Skip to comments.The West woke up too late to the nuclear threat of rogue states
Posted on 10/09/2006 4:14:52 PM PDT by MadIvan
At last the world's leaders have found something on which they can all agree. From Washington to Beijing, from Moscow to Paris, from Islamabad to Delhi, from London to Tokyo, they were yesterday unanimous in their condemnation of North Korea's announcement that it had conducted a successful test-firing of its home-grown nuclear bomb.
In Washington, the White House demanded that the UN Security Council take immediate action to punish Pyongyang for its blatant defiance of world opinion, while in China, the only country to have anything approaching normal relations with North Korea's diehard communist regime, the foreign ministry issued an uncompromising communiqué that demanded North Korea uphold its pledges to dismantle its nuclear programme and "stop any action that would worsen the situation".
Ever since President George W. Bush first identified North Korea as being part of the troika of rogue nations that, with Iran and Iraq, formed an "axis of evil", there has been a distinct lack of unanimity among the world's leading powers over how to tackle the mounting threat to global security posed by the deadly combination of nuclear proliferation and rogue states.
Iraq, where, as the final report of the Iraq Survey Group concluded, Saddam Hussein was determined to resume development of his nuclear weapons programme, Britain and America stood alone in demanding that the Iraqi dictator face the consequences for his decade-long defiance of the UN.
On Iran, there has been a broader alliance, with other major European powers such as Germany and France agreeing that the ayatollahs should not be allowed to develop an indigenous uranium enrichment capability. Even leading non-aligned states, such as India, South Africa and Brazil, eventually lost patience with Teheran's protestations that its intentions were entirely peaceful, when all the evidence suggested otherwise.
But it was not until yesterday, and the revelation that North Korea's decidedly eccentric president Kim Jong-il had joined the elite club of nuclear-armed powers, that anything like a broad consensus has emerged to confront arguably the world's most unstable dictatorship.
This, after all, is a country where the regime's leadership is prepared to let a tenth of the nation's 22 million people starve to death while they amuse themselves by arranging trips to visit Disneyland.
Not that "the Dear Leader", as Kim likes to be known, would himself look that out of place rubbing shoulders with the likes of Mickey Mouse and Pluto. With his Elvis hairstyle, oversized glasses and khaki pyjama suit, he looks more like an escapee from a North Korean lunatic asylum than a serving head of state.
It is said the reason he wears platform shoes and styles his hair with an exotic quiff is so that, on his rare public appearances, he appears taller than his 5ft 3in. The few diplomats who have had the pleasure of meeting him in person portray him as a vain, paranoid, cognac-guzzling hypochondriac. And to cap it all, Asia's very own Dr Strangelove now has a nuclear weapon at his disposal.
In these truly terrifying circumstances, the leaders of the world's major powers are to be applauded for agreeing that it is in no one's interests to allow such a man and such a regime to have access to such a devastating arsenal. The problem is that they have woken up too late to the threat posed by rogue states that seek to arm themselves with nuclear weapons.
In the four years since Mr Bush's "axis of evil" speech, the constant bickering over how to handle rogue regimes has enabled the regimes themselves to proceed apace with their diabolical schemes. Apart from yesterday's test-firing of a nuclear warhead, the North Koreans have successfully developed a range of ballistic missiles that can hit targets throughout Asia, as they proved when they test-fired a missile over Japan.
The North Koreans have also made a significant contribution to the cause of nuclear weapons proliferation. Apart from providing the Iranians with versions of their Nodong ballistic missile, North Korean scientists have been assisting the Iranians with the development of their own nuclear military programme.
The Iranians, meanwhile, have taken advantage of international divisions over that programme to make significant technological progress, to the extent that most Western intelligence agencies believe the Iranians now have the technology to enrich uranium to weapons grade.
Which all suggests that worldwide attempts to halt nuclear proliferation, particularly since the September 11 attacks against America, have been an unmitigated disaster. For if Iran, like North korea, is successful in joining the elite group of nuclear powers, then it is inevitable that other countries will attempt to acquire nuclear arsenals of their own.
In Asia, this could mean Japan and South Korea, while in the Middle East any number of countries, from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, will feel obliged to take the nuclear option in the interests of national defence.
The seeds of nuclear proliferation are everywhere being sown, and the consequences are ultimately far more alarming than the last time the world lurched towards nuclear Armageddon, during the Cold War. Then, the concept of mutually assured destruction, where the knowledge that any nuclear attack would result in the attacker's instant annihilation, meant that even the most committed ideologues on both sides of the East/West divide shied away from direct confrontation.
But reason and logic are not factors that will necessarily enter into the calculations of paranoid tyrants such as Kim, who is convinced that the world is already committed to his regime's annihilation, or the ayatollahs in Teheran, who are openly contemptuous of earthly endeavours, and actively seek their spiritual salvation in the afterlife.
These are threats that the world, rather than individual states, needs to confront in unison, and the best place for that to happen is the UN. But despite all the talk of reforming a body that is woefully unsuited to tackle the security threats of the modern age, the UN remains incapable of rising to the challenge.
At arguably the most critical juncture in the organisation's history, the member states this week chose as their new secretary general South Korea's foreign minister, Ban Ki-moon, a name that is hardly likely to strike terror into the hearts of the despots of Pyongyang and Teheran.
Certainly, with the world's security in such a parlous state, it would be a brave government that today advocated getting rid of its nuclear deterrent, whether in Britain or anywhere else.
As I said before, we never learn.
All except the USA and Japan are still asleep. b
Well I smelled a RAT back in 1993 when Jimmah Cartah went to North Korea to capitulate. I noticed how I never heard anything from Kim Il Sung while Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush were President, but within weeks of the bent one becoming President, Kim Il Sung was making noises about his "civilian" nuclear program.
Over recent years, my "worry bone" has just been completely worn out.
I've been deluged with warnings as well as threats of increased taxes, fines, imprisonment, etc. over Alar, recreational drugs, global warming, first-and-second-hand tobacco smoke, seat belt and child-restraint device usage, bad eating habits, and the benefits of low-flow toilets among a thousand other things.
My worry bone is broken or worn out.
"When they behead your children in the wars to come, then you will know."
But everyone knows there isn't real unanimity. Nothing useful will be done.
I'm reminded of the last paragraph of Homage to Catalonia.
It is one of the weaknesses of free societies to underestimate the intentions of the evil.
Well, then maybe we should have been concerned about "REAL" threats all this time rather than who is smoking, drinking or eating what, where, or when.
Then, we could have a "REAL" reaction.
I don't see how you can compare this to those things. What am I missing?
My worry bone is broken or worn out.
Just because alarmists get attention, while the population explosion catastraophe never materialized, and neither will the global warming catastraophe, doesn't mean there is not a rational threat. The proper response is not worry, but support for stoutly facing down those upstart nations (or non-nations) that are arming.
We've purposely derailed our priorities.
Time to get them back on track.
This is not a REAL threat because we are not going to respond to it in a REAL way.
Smoke a cigar in a bar in Santa Fe and get fined and tazered if you refuse to put it out.
Develop a nuclear weapon and test it and the Great Nations of the world will debate it for years while doing nothing.
We'll have to lose a city before we take this as a REAL threat. Until then, M'eh....
Oh, I see. I think. ;)
Hope to see you in the survivor ranks.
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