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North Korea and nuclear war with the US
Posted by: McQ on Friday, October 06, 2006

There's a fascinating article in the Asia Times by a gentleman named Kim Myong-chol. Kim is often cited as the "unofficial" spokesman for Kim Jong-il of North Korea. In a long article, Kim Myong-chol (hereafter known as Kim) relates what can only be described as North Korea's "thinking" (meaning Kim Jong-il's thinking) concerning the impending nuclear test, the future, the possibility of war, why NoKo has pursued nuclear weapons (hint: it's Bush's fault) and Korean unification.

Kim lays out all of this by describing the reasons for the upcoming nuclear test with 5 "messages" such testing is to deliver to the rest of the world on behalf of North Korea. The rhetoric leads one to believe that it was Kim Jong-il approved:
The first message is that Kim Jong-il is the greatest of the peerless national heroes Korea has ever produced. Kim is unique in that he is the first to equip Korea with sufficient military capability to take the war all the way to the continental US. Under his leadership the DPRK has become a nuclear-weapons state with intercontinental means of delivery. Kim is certainly in the process of achieving the long-elusive goal of neutralizing the American intervention in Korean affairs and bringing together North and South Korea under the umbrella of a confederated state.

Unlike all the previous wars Korea fought, a next war will be better called the American War or the DPRK-US War because the main theater will be the continental US, with major cities transformed into towering infernos. The DPRK is now the fourth-most powerful nuclear weapons state just after the US, Russia, and China.

The DPRK has all types of nuclear bombs and warheads, atomic, hydrogen and neutron, and the means of delivery, short-range, medium-range and long-range, putting the whole of the continental US within effective range. The Korean People's Army also is capable of knocking hostile satellites out of action.

All the past Korean heroes let the Land of Morning Calm be reduced to smoking ruins as the wars were fought on its soil, even though they repelled the invaders. One of the two major aspirations of the Korean people has been the buildup of military capability enough to turn enemy land into the war theater. Kim has splendidly achieved this aspiration.
How else does one take that but as a threat? And not even a veiled threat.

NoKo claims to have all means of nuclear weapons - atomic, hydrogen and neutron. It claims to have the delivery means (although the recent tests weren't particularly conclusive in that regard), and, one assumes, given the rhetoric, the will to use them "intercontinentially". So while not ruling out the "Land of Morning Calm" again becoming a "smoking" ruin, NoKo is promising to spread the ruins.

Kim then goes thorough citing a series of articles in the American press which are used to point out how toothless the Americans, under Bush, have become and how the power is shifting in Asia to ... well you read it:
The title "the greatest iron-willed, brilliant commander" is reserved for Kim Jong-il, who has led tiny North Korea to acquire the most coveted membership of the elite nuclear club, braving all the nuclear war threats, sanctions and isolation efforts on the part of the US. It is little short of a miracle that the leader has outmaneuvered and outpowered the Bush administration against heavy odds.
Having established the "bona fides" of "the greatest iron-willed, brilliant commander" (and a great indicator that this all was approved for release by Kim Jong-il), Kim moves to the second point:
The second point is that a nuclear test will be a legitimate exercise of North Korea's sovereign right in supreme national-security interests of the country. The sole reason for the development of nuclear weapons is more than 50 years of direct exposure to naked nuclear threats and sanctions from the US. The Kim administration seeks to commit nuclear weapons to actual use against the US in case of war, never to use them as a tool of negotiations.

It is sheer illusion to think that sanctions and isolation will stop North Korea from the planned nuclear test. US hostility, threats and sanctions are the very engines that have propelled the development of nuclear weapons. Absent US hostility, nuclear blackmailing, sanctions, threats of isolation and regime change, the Kim administration would never have thought at all of acquiring nuclear deterrence.
Two things to note here. NoKo says its only reason for developing nukes are the "50 years of direct exposure to naked nuclear threats and sanctions from the US" (hmmm ... I thought, given point one, it was Bush's fault). They also are very clear that they developed them to actually use against the US. They don't, according to Kim, intend to use them as a tool of negotiations - which may signal, in the convoluted world of diplomacy - that they will negotiate them, given the proper incentives ... or not.

But given this particularly stark statement, one would be foolish not to take it at face-value, at least initially. In both point one and two, NoKo has threatened the US with nuclear attack.

Also note that Kim claims NoKo would never have pursued this
course absent "US hostility". Of course it wasn't the US which attacked south in the '50s and all rational actors know that, but it is popular these days, among tin-pot dictators to play this sort of game. It plays well at home, it plays well among similar states and it is of little risk. Another example of this sort is Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

Point three is a sales job pointed at Russia and China. An appeal to back off and drop its support for the US position on NoKo:
The third message is that the nuclear-armed North Korea will be a major boon to China and Russia. Nuclear-armed, the two countries are friendless in case of war with the US. The US has nuclear-armed allies, such as the UK and France. The Americans have a network of military bases around the two countries, while they have none. The presence of a mighty nuclear weapons state in Korea should be most welcome to Russia and China.

The People's Republic of China has every reason to welcome a nuclear-armed North Korea, whatever it may say in public. The nuclear deterrence of North Korea is a major factor in reducing US military pressure on China on the question of the independence of Taiwan.
Fascinating. "Have nuke, will travel". Want Taiwan? Support us and we'll be you're nuke proxy threat should the US move to stop your intervention there. I'm not sure that's especially attractive to China, but the offer is amazing.

Equally fascinating is point four:
The fourth point is that the North Korea government of Kim does not care at all whether Japan goes nuclear, or that South Korea and Australia follow suit. In the first place, those countries are practically nuclear-armed because they are under the nuclear umbrella of the US and house American nuclear bases and because Tokyo's military spending is 10 times that of Pyongyang's and Seoul's defense budget is five times that of Pyongyang's. It is too obvious that they are capable of acquiring nuclear weapons at short notice.

[...]

Their becoming nuclear powers will signal that the US is no longer a reliable cop. At long last de-Americanization of the US allies and neutralization of the US in the rest of the world will be set into motion. This is one of the reasons why the Kim administration has every reason to secretly welcome the nuclear arming of junior US allies.

The main enemy to North Korea is the US, the sole surviving superpower in the world. Acquisition of hundreds of nuclear weapons by Japan and South Korea will not have any serious impact on the total balance of nuclear power. Japan and South Korea have too much to lose in a nuclear war with North Korea, while North Korea has little.
While NoKo may not "care", China certainly would, but it is interesting that NoKo sees advantage in a nuclear Japan and South Korea only because it believes it would signal loss of US power and prestige in the area. How it manages to not see it as an increased threat on themselves is anyone's guess.

The last part of point four is interesting as well:
It is important to note that the nuclear weapons and long-range means of delivery are not aimed at South Korea and will be common property shared with South Korea under a confederated government.
You believe that, right? And that "confederated government" will be led by whom? Heh ... who else is "the greatest iron-willed, brilliant commander" in Korea?

Last point:
The fifth and last point is a long, overdue farewell to the nuclear non-proliferation regime, with the Bush administration standing in the dock as prime defendant accused of sabotaging nuclear non-proliferation. Had the Americans been steadfast in upholding the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty by reducing their nuclear weapons and respecting the sovereignty and independence of the non-nuclear states, North Korea would not have felt any need to defend itself with nuclear weapons.

A nuclear test by North Korea will go a long way toward emboldening anti-American states around the world to acquire nuclear weapons. There is a long line of candidate states.

It is important to note that the North Korean Foreign Ministry pledges to faithfully implement its international commitment in the field of nuclear non-proliferation as a responsible nuclear-weapons state and to prohibit nuclear transfer.
Hilarious if it wasn't so serious. "Farewell to the nuclear non-proliferation regime", but NoKo promises to "faithfully implement its international commitment in the field of nuclear non-proliferation as a responsible nuclear-weapons state and to prohibit nuclear transfer."

You simply can't get anymore schizo than that.

This is a definite "ratcheting up" of the rhetoric coming out of North Korea. But it seems clear that, like many puffed up little potentates, Kim Jong-il has no idea what he's really messing with. It is worrisome that he sees his nuclear weapons as tools to force his will in the region. It is also worrisome that he thinks his use of his tools is survivable. It is that sort of irrational thinking which increases the chance of a nuclear exchange.

For all our concern about Iran and the 12th Imam, this screed (if it is indeed the voice of Kim Jong-il as implied) is just as irrational.

There have been reports that Kim Jong-il is suffering bad health. You have to begin to wonder, if true, whether he is thinking he has to act on his fantasy of Korean unification before he loses the ability to do so. No matter how odd some of the reasoning in this article may seem to most, it is something to be taken very seriously. It may indeed seem like the ravings of a isolated and slightly mad man who really doesn't have a firm grasp on reality (or what he could potentially unleash). But that doesn't mean he won't act on it if, for whatever reason, he concludes he must.

Does that mean he actually can attack the US? That's not really clear. That doesn't mean, however, that he won't try or won't end up attacking something. North Korea is a very serious diplomatic situation. And like Iran, there just aren't very many good options.
 
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Comments
There have also been reports that he is dead.

It’s hard for me to make heads or tails of this document. Could it be a sales pitch?
 
Written By: Dave Schuler
URL: http://www.theglitteringeye.com
It is a strange one ... but it seems to be the unofficial way for Kim Jong-il to get his "thinking" out in public. He can make threats through a proxy and then deny them if confronted.

But the language, at least in my estimation, seems to be all Kim Jong-il. I think this may be one of those attempts to run a bunch of trial balloons up and see how well they fly without having to take any official responsibility for them.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I think it is simple proof that the US needs to surrender, QUICKLY, to the Iron-Willed, Dear Leader.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I would imagine that it’s "Ronery" being the Dear Leader. His victory is, however, inevitar-burrrrr....Dirka-Dirka.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Everything other than point four isn’t really surprising or interesting. North Korea’s propaganda makes Iran look, by comparison, cautious and responsible. Who they do resemble - for their exaggerated, or to put it another way, deranged rhetoric, is Saddamn Hussein’s Iraq.
The point is, they make open threats, transparent attempts to blame the US, and sad attempts to overstate their value to neighbors on a regular basis. Luckily, China is past the days of Mao Zedong, and not really on the same wavelength.
I pity the diplomats that have to negotiate with them.

Point four, on the other hand:
Equally fascinating is point four:
The fourth point is that the North Korea government of Kim does not care at all whether Japan goes nuclear, or that South Korea and Australia follow suit. In the first place, those countries are practically nuclear-armed because they are under the nuclear umbrella of the US and house American nuclear bases and because Tokyo’s military spending is 10 times that of Pyongyang’s and Seoul’s defense budget is five times that of Pyongyang’s. It is too obvious that they are capable of acquiring nuclear weapons at short notice.

[...]

Their becoming nuclear powers will signal that the US is no longer a reliable cop. At long last de-Americanization of the US allies and neutralization of the US in the rest of the world will be set into motion. This is one of the reasons why the Kim administration has every reason to secretly welcome the nuclear arming of junior US allies.

The main enemy to North Korea is the US, the sole surviving superpower in the world. Acquisition of hundreds of nuclear weapons by Japan and South Korea will not have any serious impact on the total balance of nuclear power. Japan and South Korea have too much to lose in a nuclear war with North Korea, while North Korea has little.
I’ve never heard this before, and it’s a little grimmer, because it’s arguably true, to an extent. Specifically, it’s true that if South Korea and Japan acquire nukes, it’s bad for the US’s ability to control the situation. If you’re truly committed to weakening the United States above and beyond all other priorities, you might logically adopt a policy of general support for anyone who wants to acquire nuclear weapons, no matter *who* they were.

In fact, if you were a weak, stunted state ostracised by the global system and confronted by the world’s superpower, you could arguably come up with the following idea: "The global system makes our enemy strong, therefore, chaos - any kind of chaos, anywhere - weakens him!"

If North Korea was as crazy as its rhetoric, we would not have gone ten nuclear-capable years on the penninsula without a nuclear event. If they genuinely wanted nuclear war, they could have it anytime they wanted.

They’re playing for leverage and cultivating crisis. It’s an ugly game. We have no reason to care if they conduct a nuclear test. If we’re not prepared to risk military engagement, I sincerely hope we are cultivating people inside NK who we can work with.



 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Let them do a nuclear bomb test, that’s one less warhead in their inventory and it may, just may, concentrate the minds (assumption, I know) of their apologists.
 
Written By: Paul
URL: http://
Not that pointing out the mistakes of the past will change the situation now, but I have to ask...

When President Bush specifically identified NoKo as an "Axis of Evil" nation, can anyone tell me the strategic and tactical logic behind this?

I cna understanding having the view that NoKo is a serious security risk, but I just can’t fathom how tipping our hand could possibly have worked in our favor?

It seems to me like the message we sent was to tell them to get on a war footing and build nukes as fast as possible.

Does anyone think that the "Axis of Evil" assertion was thought out in any strategic manner, or, as I suspect, that it was agressive swagger that sounded good to aspeechwriter?

NoKo is certainly a greater risk today than it was the day before "Axis of Evil", and I just can’t imagine anyone thinking that this would not be the case.

By the way, I do believe that NoKo can be contained, but not by this President. I believe he has muddied the waters too much to get anything back from NoKo other than more swagger. We just need to maintain for a couple more years until someone with a cleaner slate can move this along.

Cap
 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
Yeah that’s it Captin it was THIS President that sent the North Koreans back to the Physics Lab to develop nuclear weapons.
When President Bush specifically identified NoKo as an "Axis of Evil" nation, can anyone tell me the strategic and tactical logic behind this?

I cna understanding having the view that NoKo is a serious security risk, but I just can’t fathom how tipping our hand could possibly have worked in our favor?
Well I guess we could ahve said NOTHING until one day out of the blue we just bombed them, but i think a little preparation would be useful in explaining the American People exactly WHY we had to bomb North Korea.
It seems to me like the message we sent was to tell them to get on a war footing and build nukes as fast as possible.

How would we distinguish the two realities you propose, as the North Koreans ahve been working on this program for decades, already AND the DPRK has positioned it’s army in a position to attack the SOuth with little or no warning and that this move occurred in the 1990’s. In short how does on distinguish between the DPRK of Clinton and the DPRK of Bush, they all look pretty much the same to me.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
When President Bush specifically identified NoKo as an "Axis of Evil" nation, can anyone tell me the strategic and tactical logic behind this?
No more than there was any strategic and tactical logic to Reagan calling the USSR the ’evil empire’.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

I do hope you’re not going to try to run with that as a justification for their developing a nuclear weapon.
By the way, I do believe that NoKo can be contained, but not by this President. I believe he has muddied the waters too much to get anything back from NoKo other than more swagger. We just need to maintain for a couple more years until someone with a cleaner slate can move this along.
Uh huh, and other than removing one excuse for negotiations and replacing it with another, how will this enemy of 50 years somehow become more amenable to containment?

IOW how will this new person, granting arguendo that whoever it is happens to be your perfect choice, contain NoKo?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
By the way, I do believe that NoKo can be contained, but not by this President. I believe he has muddied the waters too much to get anything back from NoKo other than more swagger.
Right, that’s why they’re insisting on bilateral talks and resisting multilateral talks. You don’t suppose that Kim has muddied the waters any, do you?

No, they want us to pay them off again. I’d rather we didn’t.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
I believe we should take them at their word.

Since they have threatened us with a nuke attack, I have no choice but to believe they intend to follow through.

Therefore, it is in the interest of the USA to first-attack nuke them into pacification or utter destruction.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Wow - talk about BlameBush as the answer to all the problems in the US.
I’m sure he caused slavery somehow, probably WWII as well.
He’s the devil, ya know?

I think someone needs to take a ’get a grip’ pill.

Regarding warning people about bombing stuff - Why do we owe any warning?
We cruised an aspirin factory right outta operation with no warning during some other Presidents time in office didn’t we?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Interesting, though, of Kim’s attitude isn’t all that much different from the attitude of the president of Iran, as you point out. Yet, we react differently to each.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
Anyone that was so funny, even in puppet form, in "Team America: World Police" can’t die just yet .. at least not until the sequel.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
It bears remembering that North Korea has seized our ships, counterfeited our currency, and flung missiles at our allies. These are all reasonably construed as acts of war. They’ve also engaged in fiery rhetoric.

The U. S. just does not have a comparable record of provocation with respect to North Korea. Most of what we’ve done has stuck to the rhetorical end of things, have been in response to North Korean provocation, and have stopped short of acts of war.
 
Written By: Dave Schuler
URL: http://www.theglitteringeye.com
Not often inclined to comment, but this is some amazing lunacy;
- and is the fault of (the fool) Bush ??
yea, "get a grip"

It would seem to be an existential threat, the same Israel is facing with Iran; and there can be only one response. But So Ko would/could never agree to a nuclear strike, be interesting to see how the world - and we - respond.
 
Written By: BillA
URL: http://
First, Capt. Sarcastic, North Korea is ALWAYS ON WAR FOOTING.

They don’t have anything else but DefCon 1 because they are a fully militarized society.

Now, that said, I recently read an article that argued that NoKos Stalinist state has collapsed and that information is getting through and that the market is back in play...

NoKo goes down soon, so they need to drop the bomb.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Most of what we’ve done has stuck to the rhetorical end of things, have been in response to North Korean provocation, and have stopped short of acts of war.

Yeah, we don’t really have much in the way of non-military punitive measures available.

However, McQ’s link points out that we’ve been putting some of NoKo’s extracurricular financial activities in lockdown recently.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Quite frankly.. I would like some kind of confermation that this artical was by the person it says its from.

If ..IF it is.. Then the only response from the USA and the world would have to be a military one.

The many countries that have voiced opinions about this issue have all basicaly said they would not tolerate NK having nukes.

The US/SOKO have been at war with NK sense the 1950’s. (Cease fire) is not a peace treaty or a surrender. The USA /SoKO or any US allies would be compleatly withing there leagal rights to bomb the hell out of NOKO.

Personaly.. I see this as just another part of what i am calling WW3. (dont think it is? Look at whats going on all over the world)
 
Written By: dave
URL: http://
Einstein believed that atomic energy be aligned under one world political structure. This is a great opportunity to further unify the world under the UN. I feel that the US needs to take leadership by sharing our capabilities and persuade all nuclear powers to share power with this organization. For what single power can arise against this unity?
 
Written By: ken
URL: http://
This guy is like the Baghdad Bob of NK.
 
Written By: Ernst
URL: http://

 
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