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We Will Accept North Korea as a Nuclear Power

We Will Accept North Korea as a Nuclear Power
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting a launching drill of the medium-and-long range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 at an undisclosed location. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

By Thursday, 14 June 2018 12:18 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Nuclear proliferation is bad. We’d even be nervous if Sweden or Switzerland went nuclear. That being said, countries like India, Pakistan, and Israel have barged into the nuclear club without the permission of the club’s very picky Board of Directors. There were no strenuous objections from across the world when these three did so. There will be talks about denuclearization in coming months and years, but North Korea is now headed for a similar nuclear club membership status as India, Pakistan, and Israel. Eventually, the U.S., the UN, and nuclear club members will just give up their efforts to disarm North Korea, and settle for a freeze, moratorium, cosmetic rollback, whatever. Trump knows this; pay no attention to Pompeo or Bolton, it’s all just posturing.

The threat that North Korea or Iran would actually launch a (admit it, totally suicidal) first strike was never the issue. What really relegated those two countries to the Axis of Evil were their words, not their weapons. Both have had propaganda machines spewing anti-U.S., anti-South Korea, anti-Israel, anti-Japan rhetoric for decades. This relentless saber-rattling was hugely irritating to the nuclear club. So, both became targets, just like Iraq.

The Edward Teller of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, the hugely popular A.Q. Khan, for years was central in a network distributing centrifuges and other nuclear components to Libya, North Korea, Iran, and who knows who else; when exposed by the IAEA’s Hans Blix, he was given wrist-slap treatment by Pakistan’s government. It’s well known that there is a very significant jihadist faction in Pakistan’s CIA, the ISI. Hundreds of high-level Pakistani officials aided and abetted Osama Bin Laden, who stayed not in a cave, but in some pretty comfortable digs in Abbottabad for ten years after the attacks of September 11. This was pretty embarrassing to Pakistan’s central government, but that didn’t stop them from arresting Dr. Shakil Afridi, who helped the U.S. track down Osama Bin Laden, on various trumped-up charges, torturing him, and sentencing him to 33 years in prison.

But, is the Pakistan government spewing out anti-U.S. propaganda? No, it’s too dependent on our military and financial assistance. Are there elements of the government who might in fact put nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists who could attack the United States? Yes, and maybe they already did. Does anyone in the punditocracy ever bring this up? No.

So the U.S. will keep negotiating with North Korea. We already backed off Complete Verifiable Irreversible Denuclearization before lifting of sanctions, and are back to the Clinton-Bush “Step-by-Step” compromise. Trump “maximum sanctions” had more bite than Obama sanctions because he got China to drastically reduce under-the-table coal trade with North Korea. It would come as no surprise if China already relaxed those restrictions, when the summit was announced. As time passes, if North Korea stops the saber-rattling, they will just evolve into a de facto nuclear power, not officially accepted into the nuclear club. If Trump turns his dream of North Korea with luxury condos on beautiful beaches into a reality, this will take place even sooner.

At the end of May, Bolton and Pence invoked a real third-rail word: Libya, which got the summit temporarily cancelled. No surprise. Qaddafi and Saddam were two rulers with nuclear programs who were induced by the nuclear club to give them up, then were overthrown — by or with the assistance of the U.S. and allies — and executed, without even a polite detour to stand trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Fifteen years ago, Richard Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, said in a New York Times column:

“It does not require Kissingerian smarts to calculate that a member of the axis of evil would be death-wish foolish to relinquish the weapons of mass destruction that may be the only thing, by virtue of the horrible implications of their use, that stands in the way of an American attack.”

Mr. Haass made this prediction shortly after Saddam’s overthrow. With Saddam’s execution and the overthrow and execution of Qaddafi, his prediction became even more indisputable. Do you really think Kim Jong Un is an idiot?

The fact remains that history shows that denuclearization is 100 percent correlated with overthrow. South Africa gave up its program when its apartheid government surrendered to majority rule. The Ukraine gave up its program when the shackles of Soviet control were removed. As for Obama’s Iran deal, Khamenei is probably relieved Trump derailed it, as a lot of student unrest, Mossad cyberattacks, and hijab-doffing could be in store in the ten years, as he waits out the sunset clause.

We all know that a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia would wipe all animal life save cockroaches off the face of the Earth. The atom triggers a mythic fear response — so much so nuclear power has been stopped in its tracks despite the fact that coal is rated 1,100 times more lethal. This mythic fear is why the myth of denuclearization is so persistent. The myth of denuclearization is like the myth of El Dorado. For over 200 years, Spain, England, Germany, and others sent expeditions into the jungles of South America in search of it. As we know, they never found it.

Henry Seggerman managed Korea International Investment Fund, the oldest South Korean hedge fund, from 2001 until 2014. He is a regular columnist for the Korea Times, and has also been a guest speaker, written for, or been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Bloomberg Television, Reuters, and FinanceAsia — covering not only North and South Korea, but also Asia, as well as U.S. politics. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Nuclear proliferation is bad. We’d even be nervous if Sweden or Switzerland went nuclear. That being said, countries like India, Pakistan, and Israel have barged into the nuclear club without the permission of the club’s very picky Board of Directors.
north korea, pakistan, nuclear weapons
Thursday, 14 June 2018 12:18 PM
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