In the comments section of my last post, Glenn Carlyle Smith has an excellent comment that drives to the heart of the North Korean issue.
What precedents are there for successfully moving a mass murdering, dictatorial regime out of the nuclear club? While nuclear weapons in the hands of North Korea’s current rulers are a potentially lethal danger to the whole world, from Kim Jong-il’s perspective, what better deterrent to aggression could there be? If you were in his shoes, with his goals, would you give them up?
It will be interesting to see what strategies are tried to deal with such a situation. The Clinton administration’s idea was to pay the North Koreans not to build nukes. The North Koreans took the payment and built the nukes anyway. By comparison, the Bush administration strategy seems to be to better isolate North Korea, apply stronger economic pressure (potentially through China), and, if it comes to it, pay North Korea to give up its weapons. I doubt North Korea will object to being paid. I also doubt the regime will ever give up the weapons.
Many countries have nuclear weapons, from democracies such as the U.S., Great Britain, and France, to societies less free, such as Russia and China. We aren’t looking to pay any of them to give up their nuclear weapons. Why? Because it’s not the weapons that are the problem, it’s the regime.
In my view, we aren't going to be able to take nuclear weapons away from Kim Jong-il. The only solution is take Kim John-il away from the weapons.
I wholeheartedly agree. However, military action looks extremely challenging, especially with so many South Koreans in the line of fire of the DMZ (North Korea could rain over 25,000 artillery shells on Seoul with a population of 9.9 million people). Being dragged into direct talks between the North Koreans and the US is not a good solution either. This reduces the pressure that can be applied by Russia, China, Japan and South Korea, all four of which have a very vested interest.
Further sanctions that are aimed at crippling the regime appear our best hope. But time is not on our side since we already know that North Korea is exporting its technology to Arab governments such as Libya for cash. How much technology is Iran receiving from North Korea?
The regime is the problem.