May 6th 2017


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COVER STORY Shocking truth behind soaring power prices

CANBERRA OBSERVED Malcolm Turnbull on the front foot during U.S. VP's visit

VICTORIA Doctors in Secondary Schools program sidelines parents

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Pro-EU technocrat unlikely to solve France's malaise

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE 'Equality' a false promise to end 'discrimination'

GENDER POLITICS NSW, Tasmania scrap Safe Schools program

NORTH KOREA Will to engage enemy key to Korean Peninsula

NATIONAL CENSUS Typical family: married mum and dad, two kids

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE Gay intolerance puts on its pushy corporate face

EUTHANASIA Nitschke award goes to couple of artists

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Rare win for the family at UN women's commission

OBITUARY Servant of the public and God departs in peace

MUSIC Allan Holdsworth: Unparalleled technique

CINEMA The Fate of the Furious: Families, fast cars, fantastic action

LETTERS

BOOK REVIEW Two views of our future redundancy

BOOK REVIEW Mounted Division in the Great War

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CANBERRA OBSERVED
Malcolm Turnbull on the front foot during U.S. VP's visit




News Weekly, May 6, 2017

The recent visit of U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence to Australia highlighted the real prospect of some form of military action against rogue state North Korea, with the Turnbull Government also leaving little doubt that Australia would agree to stand by the United States in any actions it decided to take.

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence
with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

North Korea has been stepping up its efforts to build a long-range missile capability, and though a recent missile test embarrassingly failed, it has since threatened a “super-mighty pre-emptive strike” over perceived U.S. aggression.

In the past such pumped-up ultimatums have amounted to nought, but with each incremental step in its nuclear development, North Korea’s capability grows, as do the concerns of the U.S. and its allies about what steps they need to take to stop it happening.

According to a recent New York Times report, North Korea’s arsenal may well hit 50 weapons by the end of President Trump’s first term, about half the size of Pakistan’s.

However, the same report concluded that North Korea was still four or five years away from fitting one of its nuclear weapons on top of an intercontinental missile capable of reaching, say, San Francisco or Seattle.

North Korea recently claimed it was planning a nuclear hit on Darwin, where the U.S. and Australia are conducting their regular joint defence exercises.

Though no credible analyst believes North Korea is capable of such a strike, nations in the region cannot continue to stand by until these cities are within its scope.

Vice-President Pence repeated his warning during a press conference with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that all avenues, including military action, are “on the table”, but he remained hopeful that China would bring its influence to bear on the recalcitrant regime’s nuclear ambitions.

“While all options are on the table, let me assure you the U.S. will continue to work closely with Australian and other allies in the region, and with China, to bring economic and diplomatic pressure to bear on the regime in Pyongyang until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile program,” Mr Pence said.

“But if China is unable to deal with North Korea, the United States and our allies will.”

For his part, Australia’s Prime Minister said resolving the situation was up to China. “The eyes of the world are on Beijing,” Mr Turnbull said. “We seek leadership from China to join the leadership shown by the United States and Japan and Australia.”

Pence’s rhetoric was a continuation of the aggressive line he has run throughout his recent tour through the Asia-Pacific region, where he visited South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and lastly, Australia.

No nuclear weapon has been detonated in anger since the end of World War II.

The doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD) adopted during the Cold War meant that nuclear weapons were used to deter aggression, rather than as weapons of conventional warfare, and the states that are still in possession of them are not likely (given the historical precedent) to use them.

Currently there are nine such states: the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and, of course, North Korea. Other countries that either had nuclear weapons or were developing them have since dismantled them.

Greg Sheridan, The Australian’s foreign editor, takes the view that Australia should be genuinely concerned about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

He argues that estimates of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal vary but the lowest credible estimates are that it probably has “15 nukes right now”.

“The real number could be substantially higher,” Sheridan says. “It has been making steady progress on miniaturising them so that they can be carried easily on long-range missiles.

“And as the world has watched in horrified fascination, Pyongyang has engaged in missile test after missile test. It has effective ballistic missiles right now. If it keeps testing, it must soon produce reliable intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“Producing an ICBM is a much smaller technical challenge than producing a nuclear weapon. Short of regime collapse, and there is no sign of that, the Stalinist regime of Kim Jong-un will soon be able to marry ICBMs and nukes.”

Contrariwise, there is also no certainty that any attack would completely destroy North Korea’s nuclear assets. And the fact is that North Korea’s deterrent capability would be eliminated as soon as it used a nuclear weapon, because the U.S. would retaliate with massive force.

Military action against North Korea is too horrifying to contemplate. At a minimum there could be mass casualties in Seoul, which lies just 60 kilometres from the Demilitarised Zone.

For his part, China’s President Xi Jinping has urged U.S. President Donald Trump to show restraint with North Korea. The U.S. President still has his training wheels on as leader of the free world and would be wise to follow President Xi’s advice.




























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