North Korea in the corner

Published on October 27 2006

Putin: Don't back North Korea into corner -
SEOUL, South Korea (Reuters) -- North Korea should not be backed into a corner over its nuclear test if the global community wants to resolve the crisis over the North's atomic ambitions, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday. Putin, referring to six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program, said one of the reasons Pyongyang had resorted to conducting the test was that "not all participants in negotiations were able to find the correct tone..." "You must never push one of the participants in talks into a corner and place it in a situation from which it can find no way out other than boosting tension," he said answering questions on live television. The U.N. Security Council voted on October 14 to impose financial and arms sanctions on North Korea after it staged the nuclear test, but just what those sanctions meant and how they would be implemented was still a matter of debate. North Korea warned its neighbor against imposing sanctions. "South Korea, forced by the United States, has already halted inter-Korea humanitarian projects and is moving to stop cooperation in other areas. The South is even revealing an intention to join U.S.-led military operations aimed at blockade against us. "South Korea's participation in the U.S. racket to put pressure upon the a serious provocation leading to a crisis of war on the Korean peninsula," a spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland was quoted by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) as saying. "If South Korea joins the U.S. ploy to pressure us, we will consider it as a declaration of a showdown and take corresponding actions," the spokesman added. North Korea blamed the United States for creating the crisis. "... the world has been pushed into the vortex of nuclear arms race by the nuclear strong-arm policy of the U.S. based on double standards," said the Communist Party newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun. "Its grave policy of nuclear threat is the main factor that pushed the DPRK to access to nukes," KCNA said, using the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The United States, which as one of the five recognized nuclear states maintains a massive nuclear arsenal, has promised that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula and has also said it has no intention of attacking North Korea. China voted in favor of the sanctions but both Beijing and Seoul fear that if they squeeze the impoverished North too tightly it could ruin ties and risk the North's collapse, sending waves of refugees into China and threatening regional turmoil.
Another good article at CFR. Reading some of the news reports brought to mind the questions on this subject that I had to answer for IR class last year. In fact, I was working on the questions at the same time I was partying down at the last reunion. (Hotel wireless is so cool! Yes, I am a hick, as a matter of fact!) So I dug around in my notebook to find my answers--seems like things haven't changed all that much in a year. The problem hasn't changed. I still am so intrigued-- and impressed-- watching these kinds of negotiations and considering all of the myriad factors involved. I always end up with more questions than answers studying these ideas. Since it looks as if I'll be taking basically the same course over again beginning in December, I'm hoping maybe I'll understand a little more about it this time around. To me, it looks more like China has been put in a corner, rather than NK. What does China do next?? because, as much as NK rants and raves about the US, the power they *really* need to worry about it China. And I think that is why the US doesn't seem to have done much--at least not as much as some factions in this country think we should do--about the DPRK. In some strange way, we realise that NK is more China's baby than ours. Section 5 questions
    If you were the head of state for South Korea, what particular aspects of North Korea's weapons technology would you find most troublesome? If you were among the top officials of the U.S. government, what particular aspects of North Korea's weapons technology would you find most troublesome? Explain the difference in perspective. If you were among the top officials in China, would you apply negative pressure on North Korea, or implicitly support their policies? Why?
"North Korea (DPRK) is a country whose major element of power is its military. With the demise of one of its major supporters, the Soviet Union, North Korea has remained barely a third World Country economically, headed by a dangerously unstable dictator. Important resources and monies continue to be funneled to the military under the doctrine of “military first”, at the expense of the economy. North Korea seems very much to be a state based only on its military and preparation for war. North Korea’s military doctrine appears to have one purpose: be able to conduct an offensive into the Republic of Korea, with the eventual goal being the re-unification of the Korean peninsula under the North Korean regime. One concern would be the continual buildup of NK troops in the area of the Demilitarized Zone. According to the web page: Korean People's Army - Introduction: "Seventy percent of their active force, including approximately 700,000 troops, over 8,000 artillery systems, and 2,000 tanks, is postured within 90 miles of the Demilitarized Zone." Obviously, as a South Korean leader, I would find the constant presence of this large force massed at my northern border, within close striking range, very troubling. The DPRK’s focus on the power of its national culture as a People’s Army building an offensive force to reunify the peninsula does not lend itself to the idea that this presence is a purely defensive force, as is claimed by the DPRK. Most countries, South Korea included, would find the nuclear capability the most troubling aspect of the North Korean weapons program. In late 2002, North Korea restarted its nuclear facilities, and removed monitoring equipment put in place per previous agreements. According to the same Webpage referenced above, 2005 Defense Intelligence Agency analysts were reported to believe that North Korea may already have produced as many as 12 to 15 nuclear weapons. North Korea is unlikely to ever be a player on the worlds’ stage without the threat of its nuclear capability, and it seems to be quite prepared to use this fact to its advantage. This nuclear program, in combination with a missile program which has already proved the capability to fire missiles as far away as Japan, indicates North Korea is using the only power it has left. These capabilities enable North Korea to bargain, rather than to beg, for its economic survival. However, as long as North Korea continues to push its isolationist policies with regards to its economy, and as long as its regime’s methods of economic expansion is encouraging “donations” from the outside world, its nuclear threat may be limited. As to the third question, China’s approach to the Korean problem will be very important. China is the only support remaining to North Korea, even though there is limited trade with other countries. On the other hand, China is also moving away from the extreme Communist hard-line approach in its economic policies, something which the leadership in Pyongyang is unwilling to do. China is becoming globalized very rapidly in its economy. China, with its more open economic policy, as well as its huge natural resource of its population, will become a world superpower in time. North Korea, a client state and a rogue nation with nuclear capabilities threatening the region, is a problem China must have a role in solving if it wants to continue its march towards globalization. China will prevent the complete collapse of North Korea, based on its long association as a fellow Communist regime; but it must also find a way to use its considerable negotiating power to prevent North Korea from undermining the stability of the entire region with its nuclear threats and coercion."

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