Brace for the arms race
Trust in China to negotiate with North Korea on nuclear tests
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 23:02
On Tuesday, seismic activity indicated something we’ve all been anticipating and have all been warned of: North Korea is testing nukes.
The North conducted an underground explosion in Pyongyang to test nuclear technology that could eventually be paired with long-range missile fire. The test, the first under new leader Kim Jong-un, follows weeks of threats to carry out an “all-out action of high intensity,” and as many have already pointed out, it’s a clear sign that Jong-un will be following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather: a leader who prefers confrontation rather than peace.
Should we be worried? Yes.
On Wednesday, newly sworn-in Secretary of State John Kerry called for a “swift, clear, strong and credible response” from nations, stressing this importance: the test immediately gives credibility to North Korea’s plans to mount a nuclear threat on the United States.
Urgency is key here. It’s very easy to sit and speculate if and when something will happen, just as it’s easy to panic about the ifs and whens. But if Korea is back to flexing its nuclear arms – bluff or not – we cannot simply sit and hope nothing happens.
The only real option the United States and the U.N. Security Council have is to leave it up to China, North Korea’s closet ally, who has already condemned the North for Tuesday’s test. If China is willing or can be convinced to negotiate with the North, then it will also prove it has the power to threaten to take away its aid and patronage.
The United States has other options its can utilize, but most of them range from “last resort” to “ABSOLUTELY NEVER DO THIS.” Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said we would begin by continuing the original drill of tightening sanctions. Negotiation attempts have also been suggested, but neither of those choices are even threats anymore. Rigid legislation and executive orders regulating trade and aid have been in place for years, some stretching over multiple decades, while previous leaders have ignored negotiation attempts.
Two other options could potentially be incredibly detrimental. We could either recognize North Korea as a nuclear power and do nothing, or we could attack the North’s nuclear and missile sites. The results of either could be completely catastrophic, however, if played incorrectly.
There isn’t a way to help North Korea through military action and committing to any attempt would be suicide. So it’s important to reiterate the seriousness of the situation.
If we call what may or may not be a bluff, the North will continue to evolve and develop its program; if we act too hastily, however, it could bring disastrous consequences. What’s left is an immediate and urgent decision with no easy road.
Our best bet is to work with China to force an agreement and corner North Korea into a situation that it can’t sidle out of. Whatever option we take, however, it is a risk, and we should all be prepared for a bit of a battle on the matter.