FOREIGN AFFAIRS: by Peter WestmoreNews Weekly
North Korean nuclear test: implications for Middle East
, October 28, 2006
The nuclear explosion conducted by North Korea's Stalinist regime shows that North Korea now has the means to threaten countries far from its shores, and has the potential to supply this technology to other-would-be nuclear states, including Iran.
Four years ago, the United States accused the secretive Kim Jong-il regime of embarking on a nuclear weapons program, the effect of which would be to destabilise the Korean peninsula, and create security concerns for Japan and other countries.
In response, the North Korean regime withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, expelled International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and announced that it would restart its plutonium-producing nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, which had been suspended since1994 in exchange for massive economic assistance from South Korea and the United States.
US intelligence reports have also indicated that North Korea is commencing a separate nuclear program, based on use of enriched uranium, to produce a nuclear bomb.Concessions
The constant threats from the Pyongyang regime have forced South Korea to offer concessions to North Korea, including massive food aid, in an effort to placate its threatening neighbour.
The nuclear test was clearly designed to show that the United States is a "paper tiger" which can threaten sanctions, but cannot deliver on them.
The one nation which could have stopped North Korea's nuclear activities is China, which is the country's largest trading partner, and supplier of energy and other resources necessary to keep the North Korean regime in power.
North Korea can hardly survive without assistance from China. So why is China not willing to play a more active role in the North Korea nuclear crisis?
The Chinese regime has consistently backed away from tough measures against North Korea, and has accused Washington of "lacking flexibility" in dealing with the Stalinist state.
China has backed mild sanctions against North Korea but opposed stronger measures proposed by the United States and Japan. The Beijing regime also indicated that it will not support inspections of North Korean vessels on the high seas, endorsed by the UN Security Council.
At the insistence of China and Russia, the sanctions agreed to by the UN Security Council imply that no member of the UN will attempt to disarm North Korea by force.
Meanwhile, Japan feels threatened by the nuclear tests, and has imposed its own sanctions on North Korea, including a ban on all trade with the country.
China is apparently unwilling to disarm its closest ally unless the United States abandons Taiwan, which Beijing wants to forcibly incorporate into China.
The Americans are therefore stalemated on North Korea.Iran's ambitions ...
In the meantime, the other would-be nuclear power, Iran, is closely watching events in north Asia, and has interpreted the newest member of the nuclear weapons club as an anti-American gesture.
On October 12, 2006, the Iranian daily Kayhan, which is identified with Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, published an editorial titled "Lessons from North Korea." It said, in part, "North Korea has built a nuclear bomb before American eyes ... Despite the great pressure it was under, and years of harsh international sanctions, no-one has managed to do anything [against it]".
The Iranian newspaper drew direct parallels between North Korea and Iran, which wants to inherit the mantle of ancient Persia, once the dominant power in the Middle East.
It said, "North Korea's nuclear capability is the product of persistence. Korea was not seeking to prove its regional power, nor to renew the advantages to be found in renewing the ancient empire that it had lost, so as to restore its national pride. What led Korea to this point was nothing but persistence in the face of the US, which would not agree to talk face to face and to assure it that it would not act to topple the North Korean government."
Again making a clear reference to Iran's nuclear weapons aspirations, the Iranian daily said, "What this means precisely is that if any country, such as North Korea, concludes, for political or security reasons, that it must have nuclear weapons, it will ultimately succeed in implementing its wish - even if the whole world doesn't want it to."
It added, "As long as the superpowers - like America - are connected to the aspiration to monopoly and to aggression, it can be concluded that North Korea's attaining of nuclear weapons means absolute defeat for the policy of applying pressure and threats in order to change countries' behaviour."
In other words, North Korea has shown Iran the way to stand up against the West to build nuclear weapons.- Peter Westmore