Cynical Synapse

Fri, 26 Nov 2010

Each North Korean Leader Gets Nuttier than the Last

Kim Jong-un with his generals

North Korea’s heir apparent hasn’t risen to power yet, but some believe Kim Jung-un behind recent North Korean saber rattling. If so, Jung-un is an even looser cannon than Kim Jong-il, his father. In any case, Pyongyang is not lieing very well. Per usual, they’re blaming South Korea and the US.

Pyongyang is certainly ratcheting up the tensions in the region. The North fired artillery at South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island twice in the last week. The first attack killed two South Korean Marines and two civilians. These events follow, by less than a week, North Korea’s unveiling of gas centrifuges at Yongbyon, their nuclear research facilities. Sanctions are obviously not working.

North Korean centrifuge plant

We know the centrifuge plant exists because Dr. Siegfried Hecker of Stanford University, and two other US scientists, were invited by the North Koreans to see it. According to Heckler, the North Koreans have installed 2,000 centrifuges. They are thumbing their noses at the West and proving they have enrichment capability.

After these latest provocations, a series that began with the North Korean sinking of ROKS Cheonan, killing 46 sailors aboard the South Korean Navy ship. In response to the shellings, the US and South Korea have scheduled military maneuvers. The US dispatched the carrier USS George Washingtion and other warships. In response, North Korea says the region is on the brink of war.

Kim Jong-il doll

Unfortunately, the US lacks a clear North Korean strategy, tending to rely on China to apply pressure on the fruitcake regime. In all likelihood, however, North Korea’s actions have Chinese approval. If not, China would slap it upside the head because of the dangers Pyongyang’s rogue actions represent to the region.

Before the Iraq War, I was more concerned about Kim Jong-il than I ever was about Saddam Hussein. And I still am. Now, with proven nuclear capability, Pyongyang must be shut down. China’s not going to stop North Korea. Sending the carrier task force to the South China Sea is a good starting show of force. The US should build up forces in South Korea and President Obama should call for development of war plans in the event North Korea attacks again.

North Korean missiles

Some have advocated placing tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea. While I admit this is appealing, there are more reasons not to deploy nuclear weapons on the Korean penninsula. In any case, the carrier group provides a nuclear-capable response in the region.

As much as anyone may want to avoid the hard choice, it has become apparent North Korea’s nuclear program must be destroyed. That requires military action. Diplomacy has served only to delay the inevitable and allow North Korea to continue development. They have proven they will not adhere to any agreements. And they gave the green light to military strikes when North Korea abrogated the armistice. Reap what you sow, Kim.

Previously on North Korea:


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