Sunday, January 18, 2009

DPRK Bares Its Claws

Apparently feeling more vulnerable and threatened than ever, backed into a corner by its own failed policies, North Korea has announced it is adopting an "all-out confrontational posture" with the South.

Since shooting unarmed middle-aged women in the back isn't quite aggressive enough, a Pyongyang army spokesman appeared on the television news to say:
Now that traitor Lee Myung Bak and his group opted for confrontation, denying national reconciliation and cooperation, backed by foreign forces, our revolutionary armed forces are compelled to take an all-out confrontational posture to shatter them.

This according to a Reuters wire report. Also yesterday, the New York Times carried a story that an American scholar familiar with DPRK nuclear proliferation issues has been told by officials there that had enough "weaponized" plutonium for roughly four to five nuclear bombs. However, as the article points out, understanding NK's sabre-rattling pronouncements is often complicated.

First, they often talk extra-tough just when the US and the South are nearing agreement on any kind of military-sharing or trade deal, hoping to throw a wrench in the works. Second, they're a bunch of big, fat liars. Also, affairs are particularly complicated at this juncture due to international questions about the health of Dear Leader, Kim Jung Il, who has not verifiably been seen in public for at least six months.

The scholar, Selig S Harrison, indicated that NK claims to have weaponized some 31 kg of what is thought to be a 37 kg stash of plutonium. Despite that, he said officials seemed open to the idea of talks with the incoming US administration. “All the statements about Obama were very helpful, very respectful,” he said.

It is worth remembering that when the current administration took office eight years ago, Kim's forces had ZERO kilograms of weaponized plutonium and the six-party talks were, if not productive, at least on-going. After over six years of the failure of Bush's "cowboy" diplomacy, he caved badly in a desperate attempt to salvage at least one foreign policy victory for his presidency. The US removed NK from its terrorist list on the promise that they would stop their weaponization program. Fat chance, as almost anyone could have told them--and as most experts did.

“We can live without normalizing ties with the United States, but we cannot live without a nuclear deterrent,” a spokesman for North Korea’s Foreign Ministry told its official news agency, KCNA, earlier in the week. Further, Xianhua News carried this report on Friday:
The United States is to blame for the deadlock in the six-party talks aimed at dismantling nuclear facilities on the Korean peninsula, an official daily newspaper of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Friday.
U.S. hardliners wielded a "big stick" against the DPRK, making bilateral relations "extremely tense," a commentary carried by the official Rodong Sinmun said.
The United States was preparing for an invasion of the DPRK behind the scenes of the dialogue, it alleged.
The latest round of the six-party talks ended earlier this month without a deal on nuclear verification, as the DPRK and the United States differed over related issues.

While it's clearly specious to blame the US for North Korea's aggressiveness, our foreign policy (or what has passed for foreign policy) in this decade hasn't helped matters. Try pointing out to the North Koreans that the US simply doesn't use military force to enact regime change. Or the US doesn't attack sovereign countries without iron-clad proof that they first attacked the US or have plans to do so in the very near future.

See what I mean?

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