Thursday, June 29, 2006

North Korean Missile Crisis

North Korea is suspected to launch Taepodong Ⅱ missile, which poses serious threat to Far Eastern nations. This missile test will undermine the Six-Party peace negotiations, and China and Russia express their concerns. Unlike previous missiles, this brand new arsenal can reach American mainland, as shown in the above map.

Since the Clinton era, Kim Jong Il missile has been using nuclear crises to call an attention from the United States, and have bilateral negotiations. Currently, the economy of North Korea is terrible. Since the collapse of COMECON, North Korea has been isolated from the world economy. In order to sustain the current regime, North Korean leaders badly need economic help from the West. This is one of the reasons why Kim Jong Il hopes to talk with the United States.

According to the Korea Times, North Korea is launching Taepodong Ⅱ because “In an analysis, AFP quoted security experts as saying that the North's preparation may be an attempt to grab the attention of a U.S. government distracted by its nuclear row with Iran.” Furthermore, the writer says “the test-fire of a Taepodong-2 type long-range missile that can allegedly reach as far as Alaska. But its range and accuracy are in doubt” (North Korean Missile Test not Imminent, June 13).

However, Kim Jong Il misjudged the consequence of missile test diplomacy. Things are completely different now. The Bush administration learned lessons from the Clinton administration’s North Korea policy. North Korean is good at cheating and deceiving as witnessed in the last missile test. They acquired nuclear fuel while violating non-proliferation agreement. Current US administration is firmly inclined to the six-party talk, instead of bilateral negotiations with North Korea. In Washington Post, Henry A. Kissinger explains this policy as follows:

What Pyongyang is attempting to achieve -- and what the Bush administration has rightly resisted -- is a separate negotiation with Washington outside the six-party framework, which would prevent other parties in the Beijing process from undertaking joint responsibilities. If bilateral talks replaced the six-party forum, some of America's present partners might choose to place the onus for breaking every deadlock on Washington, in effect isolating the United States. (A Nuclear Test for Diplomacy, May 16)

This missile can reach US mainland, which poses much more serious threat to than previous time. Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, currently a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, says “America’s actions must be decisive. We are faced with a brutal, totalitarian dictatorship about which we know little. It is acting in defiance of all of its own international commitments. The time for talk is over. Either they dismantle the missile or we the United States should dismantle it.”

Former Secretary of State under the Clinton administration William J. Perry and his Assistant Secretary Ashton B. Carter argue even more hardliner.
But diplomacy has failed, and we cannot sit by and let this deadly threat mature. A successful Taepodong launch, unopposed by the United States, its intended victim, would only embolden North Korea even further. The result would be more nuclear warheads atop more and more missiles. (“If Necessary, Strike and Destroy” Washington Post, June 22).

In order to deal with increasing threat of North Korea, the US-Japanese partnership is getting more and more closer. The missile interceptor test was successful, and the US-Japanese alliance can impose psychological pressure on North Korea. Though former Secretary of Defense William Perry insists on preemptive attack against North Korea, the Bush administration is willing to continue the six-party efforts. The interceptor test will be a great advantage for current diplomatic negotiations.

South Korea’s position is still ambiguous. This country has been pursuing the “Sunshine Policy” to North Korea. However, the public opinion is turning hostile to the North. Even North Korea’s close allies, China and Russia, raise serious concern over this missile test.
(Seoul, Beijing Seek Dissuade NK from Missile Test, The Korea Times, June 27)

The North Korean dictator must understand the risk of missile test diplomacy. This is not as effective as it was in the past. The US-Japanese alliance is more steadfast against a rogue proliferator. South Koreans gradually understand who the real threat is. Pyongyang must act honestly, or defeated in the end.