Someone is going to have to deal with North Korea. The hermit kingdom is no longer just a pain in the world’s rear end, but is legitimately a dangerous threat to world stability. Now the IAEA is reporting that the Norks have doubled the size of their nuclear enrichment facility.
From the WSJ:
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, described North Korea as rapidly advancing its capacity to produce nuclear weapons on two fronts: the production of plutonium at its Yongbyon nuclear facility and the enrichment of uranium.
As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson remarked, “the policy of strategic patience has ended.” The soft approach with North Korea has failed, and is unlikely to work in the future.
“This is a highly political issue. A political agreement is essential,” Mr. Amano said, but added. “We can’t be optimistic. The situation is very bad. We don’t have the reason to be optimistic.”
In case political doves who think world peace is a matter of soft discussion and appeasement want to compare North Korea with Iran, Armano dispels such ideas. “The situation is very different,” he said. “Easy comparisons should be avoided.”
First, North Korea is already a nuclear-capable rogue state. Iran is not (yet) nuclear capable. We can thank American and Israeli efforts for that.
Second, Iran, as much as we’ve tried to isolate it financially and diplomatically, is part of the international community. Iranians travel–generally–freely from and to Iran. Iran has a relatively well-educated, literate working class, and a burgeoning intellectual population. Iran is a fairly advanced country in culture and technology. Yes, they’re run by a cabal of Islamic extremists who regularly encourage “death to America!” chants, but that isn’t the whole country.
North Korea, on the other hand, is a destitute backwater steeped in worship of its own leaders as gods. There’s no working class, only an army, a peasantry, and a starving class. Oh, and a small ruling class who have to worry if they’ll be shot (or be poisoned with VX) because they say the wrong thing about Kim Jong Un.
To make the comparison visual, look at both countries at night from space.
That little dot on the left is Pyongyang. The rest of the country is blacked out. Iran, on the other hand, enjoys electricity.
We can reason with and influence Iran to some extent. Of course, we didn’t have to give away the whole store like former President Obama and his henchman John Kerry did. But sanctions were in fact working, preventing Iran from “breakout.” Now it’s just a matter of time unless President Trump undoes the damage.
North Korea is a whole different ballgame. There’s nobody to reason with. The entire country is one giant prison camp and indoctrination center. There’s no communication in or out unless it’s underground. Whole families are punished if one member is found with contraband. The North makes money by selling coal and iron ore to China, which has restricted that trade after the country’s last nuclear tests.
They also make money by counterfeiting U.S. currency. Every time the U.S. Treasury changes up the $100 bill, North Korean fakes disappear for a while, then come back. If there were a better definition of a rogue, criminal state, I don’t know it.
The only way to deal with North Korea is to threaten the life, safety, and future rule of its leaders. They are willing to sacrifice any number of their citizens to complete their quest for nuclear weapons and delivery systems.
The IAEA’s chief wouldn’t speculate on how many atomic bombs the agency believes North Korea has amassed in its weapons arsenal. U.S. and Chinese officials, citing the dual plutonium and uranium infrastructure, believe it can be as high as 40.
“The situation is very bad…It has gone into a new phase,” Mr. Amano said about North Korea’s overall program. “All of the indications point to the fact that North Korea is making progress, as they declared.”
The Norks cannot be allowed to have 40 nuclear weapons and ICBMs. There’s no good outcome to that. China knows it, Japan knows it, and South Korea knows it best of all.
If Tillerson believes that military strikes are necessary to deal with the north, then he may be right. He’s even taken the extraordinary step of skipping out on the upcoming NATO foreign ministers’ meeting to stay in Washington for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit. North Korea will certainly be on the agenda.
After years of playing and letting the Norks have their way, now is probably the last opportunity to stop them. It’s certainly high time someone did.