U.S. must carefully defuse threat posed

Posted: Friday, January 10, 2003

North Korea already has two nuclear weapons, says Secretary of State Colin Powell.

That and its long-standing ties with the colossus that is China are worth consideration by anyone trying to evaluate the Bush administration's response to North Korea's announced plans to restart a reactor capable of producing fuel for nuclear warheads.

The recent developments in North Korea do present a delicious irony when placed in contrast with Iraq. The former is a known threat, the latter a supposed or presumed one.

But that makes the decisions no less difficult.

Any calculation involving military action must be based on likely consequences and costs. If the United States struck North Korea, the nation's leaders might well retaliate against South Korea and Japan, perhaps even employing the nuclear weapons it possesses. And we apparently do not know what China would do. That's all the more reason for the Bush administration to attempt to enlist Beijing as an ally in the effort to defuse the threat that North Korea presents.

-- The Cincinnati Post - Jan. 2

It is not Iraq, but rather North Korea, which currently provides an instructive illustration of the consequences of the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. President George W. Bush, commander of the world's strongest and proudest army, had to say meekly that he is seeking a diplomatic and peaceful solution with the regime in Pyongyang, which has thrown out inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Just months ago, North Korea -- along with Iraq and Iran -- was counted as a member of the "axis of evil." ... If President Bush -- like his predecessor -- uses threatening military gestures or attempts an intervention, then Kim Jong Il would have a terrifying instrument with which to strike back.

He could obliterate the South Korean capital, Seoul, with a nuclear attack. With the necessary missile technology, he could even hit Tokyo.

North Korea's large conventional weapons capability already represented a trump card. With the possession of atomic weapons, it has made itself practically unassailable.

This is exactly where the problem of proliferation lies. ...

The American president has no choice but to play the game for now.

Kim is a predictable man, Washington says of the reclusive ruler who has just discarded all his nation's agreements with America.

Behind this, maybe, is the quiet hope that in the end it will only be necessary to pay money or make some political concessions.

-- Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Frankfurt, Germany - Jan. 6

The international community has issued a warning that it will no longer allow Pyongyang to insist on acting in a way that flies in the face of reason and accepted norms of behavior.

The warning came in a strongly worded resolution adopted by the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The unanimous resolution strongly criticized North Korea, which has unilaterally decided to resume operations of its nuclear facilities.

The international community is united in its condemnation of North Korea's move. We believe Pyongyang must take to heart the significance of the warning and bow to the IAEA's will immediately.

The current nuclear crisis will deepen if North Korea does not toe the line. In this regard, countries concerned are advised to expedite efforts to coordinate their policies toward North Korea.

The countries concerned agree that the Korean Peninsula must be a nuclear-free zone. In this connection, the two Koreas jointly issued a nuclear-free declaration.

Consequently, we believe it is vital for Japan, the United States and South Korea to cooperate in dealing with North Korea.

-- Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo - Jan. 8

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