Threat From The West: The U.S. Is Threatening North Korea

After North Korea’s satellite launch on 5 April 2009, the United Nations Security Council issued a statement on 13 April, accusing North Korea of launching a “rocket” and violating U.N. resolution #1718. In order to counter North Korea’s actions, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak’s government quickly agreed to full participation in the PSI (Proliferation Security Initiative), a multi-national naval training led and directed by the United States. The Proliferation Security Initiative began in 2003 when the United States, in order to simulate the interception of smuggled weapons of mass destruction as well as drugs and counterfeit money, gathered together several nations and began staging naval exercises.

North Korea clearly stated the need for the satellite launch in order to stimulate domestic economic development and offered to allow another country to perform the tests for them, in order to allay any international doubts as to North Korean intentions. At the time there was no reaction from the United States. Prior to the second launch, North Korea notified international organizations, but afterwards the United States and Japan declared that the launch was an offensive (and illegal) “rocket.” North Korea asked the Security Council for an apology, threatening to take further measures such as initiating nuclear-test explosions, testing ballistic missiles, and declaring the PSI as a naval blockade directed against North Korea, or even a declaration of war. The United States has ignored North Korea’s warnings.

On 25 April 2009, North Korea finally took the drastic measure of initiating a second nuclear-test explosion. The next day in Pyongyang, at the celebration of the explosion, the Worker’s Party of Korea Central Committee Secretary, Choe Thae Bok, stated, “in the face of continuing American sanctions and blockades, we will strengthen autonomous national defense, in order to protect the nations greatest interest, defend racial dignity and autonomy, and before the 2012 hundredth anniversary of the birth of deceased Prime Minister Kim Il-Sung create a great socialist nation.”

Since the new American regime has taken power, North Korea has expressed a sincere desire to improve relations. It seems that although Obama was elected under a banner of change, he has yet to alter the previous administration’s adversarial policies. Instead, in a move aimed at North Korea, the Obama administration is making allies of Japan, South Korea, and other nations to increase its subordinates in the region. Thus North Korea has been forced to take the hard line- boosting seemingly threatening defensive measures to ensure self-protection. So is North Korea threatening the United States, or is it perhaps the other way around?

From the North Korean perspective, if their military actions threaten the structure of global safety, then the new U.S. government should work to create a well-intentioned understanding between the two nations. In this way, both countries can move towards the “nuclear-free world” President Obama so enthusiastically evoked in his discussion with Russia. The U.S. should also open up a channel of direct dialogue, allow North Korea back to the Six Party talks, and guide the Koreans a step further to participate in the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) and MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) mechanisms, instead of forcing them to take defensive (albeit extreme) military action.

Whatever the case, the peace and safety of the region as well as de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula cannot be achieved by solely requiring North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons or missiles. This is a lesson Obama and the United States will have to learn very quickly, should they hope to succeed in building that ‘nuclear-free world’ of which they speak so freely.

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