North Korea and America in the Same Club on the Nuclear Tests

On Jan. 13, one week after North Korea announced its successful hydrogen bomb test, South Korean President Park Geun-hye gave a national address. She said, “The best partners work together during difficult times.” She expressed her hope that China would take necessary measures toward North Korea, or South Korea would change its usual strategy of valuing China and shift its focus to a South Korea-America alliance. In the follow-up press conference, she said that due to national security concerns, South Korea will have to study THAAD*, the South Korea-America joint military installation. President Park may have panicked under the circumstances, so it is understandable she said what she did, but she cannot ignore facts and lose her composure.

One: The existence of the North Korean nuclear issue and the Korean Peninsula problem were not caused by China nor could they be solved by China. The U.S. secretary of state’s statement that China’s North Korean policies have failed is putting the blame on China and is not reasonable. South Korea should not follow suit in this regard.

Two: North Korea and America are the joint creators and beneficiaries of the nuclear test and tension in the Korean Peninsula. For decades, both sides have acted from the same script, causing the area to fall into the vicious cycle of “tension-ease-tension-ease.” It is during this kind of cycle that North Korea has fired all types of missiles and conducted four nuclear tests, while America expanded its territory in the region using various formats. The two enemies may seem fiercely divided, but in fact they actually depend on each other, and use each other in many ways.

Three: Regardless of how much tension there may seem to be on the peninsula, it is certain North Korea will not impulsively take military action against South Korea and America. The two sides are vastly unequal in their strength; even if North Korea had a will of its own, it knows the consequences of fighting a much stronger foe. At the same time, North Korea does not believe in nor is afraid that South Korea and America would attack first because of the many related consequences, such as nuclear radiation leaks, refugees, and other explosive aftermath in the region.

Four: Typical sanctions used by the international community are hard to impose on North Korea. The country has little trade activity with other countries, it manufactures and sells its own weapons and military equipment, and has isolated itself from the world at large. All the usual measures — economic sanctions, weapons embargos, political isolation, etc. — are perhaps not completely useless, but rather ineffective toward North Korea.

Five: China and South Korea are the biggest potential victims of a North Korean nuclear meltdown. The North Korean nuclear facilities are very close to Seoul and just a few dozen kilometers away from the Chinese border. Nuclear experts have long warned that North Korean nuclear technology is backward and lacks safety, so there is the risk of a Chernobyl-type disaster. Such information has circulated online, angering Chinese citizens; South Korean people likely feel the same way.

With all of the above concerns, the North Korean problem will only be solved once both America and North Korea give up their private agenda and seek a joint solution toward the goal of denuclearization on the peninsula and peace in the region, i.e., a peace accord between America and North Korea, with North Korea giving up nuclear tests or dismantling its nuclear facilities.

Regarding THAAD, anyone who understands the Korean Peninsula situation and holds no bias knows that no matter how powerful the system may be, it is useless in protecting South Korea. It cannot fight against the long-range missiles from North Korea, it only protects America. And it helps to keep China and large areas of Russia under threat. Both China and Russia have clearly voiced their opposition toward America installing THAAD in South Korea. If South Korea were to cower under American demands regarding THAAD, it would only negatively affect its relationship with China and Russia as well as worsen its own environment. South Korea should make a wise decision weighing all the pros and cons in this situation.

It was not easy for the China-South Korea relationship to reach today’s depth and range. If the North Korean nuclear tests and American selfishness ruined it, it would be exactly what North Korea and America want. They do not want to see China and South Korea getting closer, they want to create tension and alienation. The fact that North Korea and America are so similar in this goal should make President Park reflect.

*Editor’s note: THAAD stands for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. It is an anti-ballistic missile system that originated in the United States.

About this publication

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply