So in yesterday’s least surprising development there came the ‘news’ that North Korea may be working on new missiles. This should not surprise anyone.. I simply don’t believe they will give up the nukes. I will be delighted if history proves me wrong but here are my reasons for the record.
- They’ve worked too hard for too long to give them up the moment they’ve finally got them working. Doesn’t make sense.
- The Kim dynasty believes their personal security and their nation’s survival is dependent on them.
- They saw what happened in Libya.
- China is their model. Straight after Mr Kim met Mr Trump he went to a more important meeting with Mr Xi. China has shown Mr Kim the way, the truth and the light. He can have his thought enshrined, he can choose his successor, he doesn’t have to worry about democracy and he can have both nuclear weapons and a better economy. I’m guessing that is what Mr Xi is advising, ‘copy me’.
- This whole round of diplomacy will take years, there will be real concessions from the US and South Korea and fake concessions from North Korea. North Korea will behave now because it doesn’t have to misbehave and can copy China – negotiations give them wiggle room until everybody realises we could just accept the reality of a nuclear North Korea..
- No one is in a position to make them do otherwise. As Eric Schlosser says, “The abolition of nuclear weapons will require unprecedented trust between nations, a strict inspection regime, and severe punishments against any country that cheats.” and in the case of North Korea trust is low and no one is willing to punish them because you know, nuclear weapons.
I’ve argued before that we’re heading for a more nuclear world (last year in fact) where I claimed in the next 30 years we’ll see both Koreas and Japan become nuclear. Both South Korea and Japan could get there very quickly if they had the political will.
In a long essay, The growing dangers of the new nuclear arms race in The New Yorker Eric Schlosser, who knows far more about this than I do,makes a similar case.
The Cold War arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union has been replaced by a multipolar nuclear competition, with far more volatile dynamics. Russia faces possible nuclear attacks by the United States, China, France, and the United Kingdom. India must worry about China and Pakistan. China must deter the United States, India, and Russia. North Korea feels threatened by the United States, while some politicians in Japan and South Korea advocate developing their own nuclear weapons to counter those of North Korea. Nuclear terrorism poses a global threat. And everyone, it seems, hates the United States.
And just to conclude this happy thought exercise consider this alarming sentence from the same essay:
The fact that launching a nuclear attack would be suicidal as well as genocidal hasn’t put an end to nuclear-war planning.
Photo by Loco Steve