Monday, August 10, 2009

North Korea is a Potential Threat

To know when a country is a threat to any nation or the world it is a scary reality and there always has to be a plan on how to handle this reality. North Korea is exactly this kind of situation.

As time has gone on with the issue of North Korea’s threat with their nuclear activity it has come pretty close to answer if they are a threat to the U.S. It seems that they are looking like a threat to the U.S. Paul Reynolds, a World affairs correspondent of the BBC News website, said that “The reason that the U.S. and the North’s neighbors are so concerned is that, if one day North Korea makes a nuclear warhead capable of being carried on a ballistic missile and it develops that missile successfully, it will have become a fully fledged nuclear-armed state.” Back in April of 2009 the talks with the six-party about how to stop the Yongbyon plant and its plutonium plant had been temporarily on pause (Paul Reynolds, BBC News). During that time as well president Obama had his special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, to try to get the conversation with the six-party to get started up again (Paul Reynolds, BBC News). Even thought it looks like a great possibility of North Korea attacking the U.S. and its allies, there is still this notion of being unsure what they are going to exactly do. News reporter Paul Reynolds makes two good options what North Korea could do. The first one he comes up with is “It may want to dodge and weave its way past sanctions and talks, and one day develop a usable nuclear weapon and a missile that could deliver it.” The second one is “Or it may be content to hold the world’s attention while keep its options open and making concessions here and there, withdrawing them when it feels the need.”

During the second missile that North Korea had successfully launched President Obama had made a statement that North Korea’s nuclear activity is a severe danger to peace. Part of his exact statement was, “blatant defiance of the United Nations Security Council” (BBC News). Continuing this statement Obama goes onto saying “The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants action by the international community. We have been and will continue working with our allies and partners in the six-party talks as well as other members of the UN Security Council in the days ahead” (BBC News).

Through out this time as well North Korea said it would keep under military threat towards South Korea and South Korea’s allies, which is primarily the U.S. (BBC News). It was reported that in April of 2009 Pyongyang backed out on the six-party talks about its nuclear program to show disapproval to the international criticism on North Korea’s test firing of rockets (BBC News).

On June 16th 2009 when President Obama and the leader of South Korea, Lee Myungbak spoke, Obama had said, “Allowing North Korea to develop nuclear weapons would destabilize Asia and threaten the world” (CNN). Obama had also mentioned that there is still a strong alliance between the U.S. and South Korea if North Korea should attack South Korea. He as well stated that North Korea could join the UN nations if they would end their nuclear activity (CNN). He thinks this could happen by him saying, “There is another path available to North Korea, a path that leads to peace and economic opportunity for North Korea” (CNN). During this time an un-named Security Council resolution happened, where it meant that the U.S. would forbid shipments to and from North Korea. Vice President Joe Biden said that the U.S. would make sure to keep this ban intact (CNN). With this resolution North Korea decided to protest it by saying they would enhance uranium and weaponize plutonium, which was reported by KCNA (CNN). It is reported that plutonium can be made into atomic bombs. After the U.S. had established this resolution, Japan had decided to follow along with it. On this day a Senate Armed Services Committee was told that the Pentagon planned to leave a certain amount of ground-based missiles in Alaska and California in case of any threat (CNN). Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said, “At the current time and into the immediate future, we think 30 silos and 44 missiles is sufficient for the threat we face.”

Now in the last couple of months the U.S. intelligence group does not think that North Korea means to launch a long-range missile in the close future (CNN). Japan had warned the U.S. that North Korea was going to launch a missile that was supposed to go near Hawaii on July 4th. With this news Defense Secretary Robert Gates had said he was going to put defensive protection around Hawaii (CNN). However, as it turns out nothing had happened with this possible missile being launched towards Hawaii. During the month of June 2009 there was another warning though made by North Korea which consisted of them saying they were going to only do short and medium range missile tests. The U.S. intelligence had said that the shorter-range missiles can be “roll out on a dime” but they had believed that the longer-range missile was not an immediate threat at the time (CNN). The U.S. intelligence had also said at that time that there is a concern that the shorter-range missile tests “could go wrong”. In the same month there had been recent reports that North Korea threatened to “wipe out” the U.S. if provoked (CNN). According to U.S. intelligence people they believe that North Korea will keep doing these missile tests and see how far they can get with this activity. One official had commented by saying that with the change of leadership in the U.S. it’s been a “big factor” (CNN). He also had said that he believes that with this change North Korea is “testing the new administration.”

With all of this information and events happening with North Korea there is now the issue on how to handle North Korea. There are ways that are good and or bad to handle a serious situation like this with North Korea. It is a matter of trying to choose the best solution to handle North Korea. It is also important to strategize on how going about the solution.

One of the solutions to this issue with North Korea could be confrontation. However, that is not the right way to go about handling the issue because it has been shown that being confrontational with North Korea has not made things better. It would also give North Korea’s regime a way to have legitimacy (Bleiker, p.470). In the confrontational approach there is the way of giving economic sanctions. There were economic sanctions that were given to North Korea by the UN Security Council in 2006. There is a problem with giving sanctions because it has been seen to be limited usage (Bleiker, p. 470). One of the biggest reasons why confrontation would not work with North Korea is because the natural way of conflicts. It is hard to know how North Korea perceives the military threats that have been given to them. There is a better way to handle the situation.

The better way to handle this situation is more on the theory of engagement. With the engagement approach to the North Korean issue it would bring a more peaceful result. Even South Korea has wanted to take this type of approach to try to solve things with North Korea. The start of this approach by South Korea was from their leader Kim Dae-jung in 1998. He was the one who wanted to have a co-operation with North Korea (Bleiker p. 471). After Kim’s time of ruling, Roh Moo-hyun, the next leader continued this idea. Now currently the leader, Lee Myung-bak, keeps this idea but has wanted to be more cautious.

The engagement theory also involves an emphasis on dialogue (Bleiker p. 472). Having dialogue creates both sides having to talk things out and to come to some negotiations. There was a success with this emphasis on dialogue in February 2007. During that time there was an agreement between North Korea, South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia, and Japan (Bleiker p.472). This agreement even allowed economic exchanges between all these countries with North Korea that had not been happening for a while. The engagement approach to North Korea would take some time but would bring better results of having an understanding between North Korea and the U.S. Roland Bleiker an author in the book Global Politics even said, “The engagement policy is based on the traditional liberal assumption that increased economic co-operation would eventually engender common interest and understanding.” Hopefully with the engagement approach things could eventually come to peaceful result and prevent North Korea to really use any nuclear weapons.

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