By Stephen Yates, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Stephen Yates is former deputy national security advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney and currently CEO of DC International Advisory, a consulting firm. The views expressed are his own.
The U.N. Security Council has unanimously passed a new resolution sanctioning North Korea for its third nuclear test. North Korea's reaction to the announcement of a vote? Threatening to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the United States.
This latest verbal volley is likely bluster, but there is a troubling quality to what we see in North Korea, and it is strategically significant.
On the surface it appears to be a cyclical melodrama – a spoiled child seeking attention or a cynical rogue extracting rewards for bad behavior. But over the last 20 years we have been through multiple leadership changes, multilateral and bilateral negotiations, humanitarian aid and U.N. sanctions, and the one constant is the steady progress North Korea has made on enrichment and other requirements for nuclear weapons. And that progress appears to have accelerated since Kim Jung Un succeeded his father.
By Global Public Square staff
North Korea's nuclear test drew the usual reprimands from world leaders. President Obama promised swift and credible action. We know what this is likely to mean – more sanctions and greater isolation for Pyongyang.
But what if the answer should really be the opposite? What if the best way to change North Korea is more commerce and communication with it rather than less?
If you look at examples of how we deal with other countries, sanctions rarely work. In Cuba, 54 years of sanctions have kept the Castros in power while its citizens have suffered. They remain isolated with the lowest rate of Internet penetration in the entire western hemisphere.
By Michael Mazza, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Yesterday, GPS heard from Cato Scholar Doug Bandow, who suggested a hands off response to North Korea’s latest nuclear test. Today, American Enterprise Institute research fellow Michael Mazza suggests a very different response. The views expressed are his own.
Tuesday morning on the Today show, senior Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett asserted that North Korea’s nuclear program “doesn’t strengthen North Korea. It makes it more vulnerable.” If only that were so. While the North’s nuclear weapons do contribute to its international isolation, it’s not at all clear that Pyongyang has any interest in joining the “world community,” as the president so often suggests.
In fact, North Korea’s nuclear achievements have, to date, made it feel less vulnerable. First, they provide leader Kim Jong-un with fodder for domestic propaganda, which may help shore up the regime. Second, and perhaps more importantly, they enhance its nascent nuclear deterrent. Kim and his cronies are already confident they can act with impunity, as they did in carrying out deadly attacks – indeed, what should be seen as acts of war – on South Korea in 2010 with the sinking of the Cheonan naval vessel and the shelling of Yeonpyeong island. As they continue to deploy their own nuclear capabilities, that confidence will surely only grow.
By Doug Bandow, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author ‘Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World.’ The views expressed are his own.
Pyongyang has dismissed international criticism of its third nuclear test, claiming to be responding to “outrageous” American hostility. The proper response from Washington is a yawn.
The so-called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has long been an international black hole. Totalitarian, impoverished, belligerent, irresponsible. Yet, while a wreck of a country, it has managed to confound its neighbors and the United States. Despite years of hope that it would either collapse or reform, the Kim dynasty staggers on, a system of monarchical communism seemingly immune to a changing world.
The nuclear test is the latest blow to hopes that Kim Jong-un, the son of Kim Jong-il, heralds a new era of modernization. But this week’s events should not surprise anyone. North Korea doesn’t work for most North Koreans. But it works well for the elite. Its members have little incentive to change. And while it might be nice to rule a wealthier, more powerful nation, opening up the political system risks leaving apparatchiks not only out of power, but hanging from lampposts.
By Heather Williams, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Heather Williams is a research fellow in international security at Chatham House in London. The views expressed are her own.
Whether the latest North Korean nuclear test destabilizes Northeast Asia in the short-term depends on how it is handled within the U.N. Security Council. The major players in the region have made stability a priority, and are likely to continue to do so. And certainly, if stability is defined as the absence of conflict or risk of immediate conflict, all signs suggest the region will indeed remain stable. After all, China’s continued economic growth is dependent on regional stability, South Korea and Japan are terrified of war with nuclear-armed North Korea, and the United States is anxious about becoming embroiled in another regime change.
But regional players will likely still have to take some sort of action against a belligerent and increasingly aggressive North Korea if there is to be a meaningful chance of maintaining stability in the long term. The hard part, though, is balancing short-term and long-term gains.
By Charles Armstrong, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Charles Armstrong is the director of the Center for Korean Research at Columbia University. The views expressed are his own.
Anyone who has followed North Korean affairs for the last several years (or the last two decades) could have predicted North Korea’s defiant response to the U.N. Security Council resolution this week condemning North Korea’s rocket launch last December and strengthening international sanctions against Pyongyang. But it should also be clear by now that while carrots only occasionally deter North Korea’s provocative behavior, sticks – whether in the form of sanctions or threats of military action – only make North Korea defiant and more bellicose.
In 1994, the first time the United States proposed taking the North Korean nuclear question to the United Nations, North Korea announced that any impositions of U.N. sanctions would be considered “an act of war.” In 2006, and again in 2009, North Korea responded to U.N. sanctions not by giving up missiles and nukes, but ratcheting up the rhetoric. In the past, promises of security and economic aid have persuaded Pyongyang to freeze or reduce its missile and nuclear programs: North Korea halted its plutonium program for eight years following an agreement with the United States in 1994, adhered to a voluntary moratorium on missile tests from 1998 to 2006, and shut down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor in 2007 as part of a multilateral agreement. The record may not be terribly encouraging, but carrots do occasionally work.
Michael Auslin is director of Japan Studies at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
By Michael Auslin, Special to CNN
With most countries, one remembers dates, such as 1066 or 1776; with North Korea, one remembers U.N. resolutions. Tuesday, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 2087, the seventh since 1993 concerning North Korea’s illicit nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program. Like the other resolutions, it is empty and meaningless, and will do nothing to resolve a growing crisis on the Korean Peninsula. It’s time for Washington to grow up and either decide to put real pressure on North Korea or to admit diplomatic defeat and reserve the right to retaliate for any unprovoked North Korean aggression in the future.
There’s nothing new, either, in North Korea’s strident denunciations of the U.N. resolution, except perhaps its clarifying reiteration of the United States as a “hostile power” and enemy of the Korean people. Nor must any observers delude themselves into thinking that, simply because Beijing decided to support this resolution, China is in any way serious about crimping Kim Jong Un’s style. The Kim regime long ago figured out that China would much rather have an obstreperous and unbalanced quasi-theocratic totalitarian state controlling the northern half of the Korean Peninsula than trust that a reunified Korea would not somehow decide to side with the United States and possibly even Japan in the game of global geopolitics in Northeast Asia.
If North Korea stays true to form, then the world should expect a third nuclear test within weeks, as a sign of Pyongyang’s displeasure with the U.N.’s temerity to express, yet again, its opposition to North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs. FULL POST
This is the latest in a series of entries looking at what we can expect in 2013. Guest analysts look at the key challenges facing a selected country – and what next year might hold in store.
By Katharine H.S. Moon, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Katharine H.S. Moon is a professor of political science and Wasserman Chair in Asian Studies at Wellesley College and an Asia Society associate fellow. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
2013 will be the year of dynastic leadership on the Korean peninsula, and the offspring on both sides of the 38th parallel have to make the best out of the baggage their fathers left for them. They can choose to look back and call forth the ghosts of their dads or look forward and forge their own priorities and a practical vision for economic reforms and peace on the peninsula.
What may surprise many about the two new leaders heading into 2013 is that they have more in common than meets the eye. The newly elected president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, was elected on December 18 with a full accounting of votes confirming her ascension on December 19. Likewise, North Korea's Kim Jong Un ascended to power on December 19 a year earlier, upon the public release of news that his father, Kim Jong Il, had died.
By John Delury, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: John Delury is an assistant professor at Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies and a senior fellow for the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations. The views expressed are his own.
South Korean voters are about to choose a new president to lead their country for the next five years. It has been a hotly contested campaign, with opinion polls too close to call and voter turnout expected to be upwards of 80 percent. The race has come down to a dead heat between the liberal candidate, Moon Jae-in, and his conservative opponent, Park Geun-hye, and it’s unclear who will win.
But one thing most people do agree on is that, of all the issues that have been fiercely debated, one topic that is seen as marginal to the outcome is what to do about North Korea.
By Michael Mazza, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Michael Mazza is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. The views expressed are his own.
On Monday, North Korea announced it was extending the window for its rocket launch due to a technical glitch. On Tuesday, South Korean intelligence officials announced there were indications that the rocket was being dismantled. On Wednesday, North Korea conducted the missile test, which it carried out successfully. What happened here?
It could be that this false delay was all about China. North Korea originally announced the missile test only a day after a high-level meeting in Pyongyang between Kim Jong Un and Wang Jiarui, head of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Department. Beijing, in the midst of a leadership transition and already dealing with a period of tense relations with its neighbors and the United States, must have been furious.
By Jason Miks
North Korea has defied the international community by launching a satellite into space. But even as questions remain over how much control Pyongyang actually has over the satellite, policymakers are considering how to respond to what the U.S. described as a "provocative" move.
Writing on CNN, Joe Cirincione, president of global security foundation Ploughshares Fund, argued today that although the launch represents a notable technological step for North Korea, it does not pose a serious military threat to the U.S. or other nations.
“If the past is any guide, North Korea's launch of an Unha-3 rocket will have international security repercussions far out of proportion to its military capability,” he wrote.
Still, the launch is being taken seriously by Washington, which is leading the global response, including at the United Nations where the issue is reportedly considered urgent.
By Stephen Yates, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Stephen J. Yates is former Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs (2001-2005) and currently CEO of DC International Advisory. The views expressed are his own.
North Korea’s seemingly successful long-range missile test presents a significant challenge to the U.S. and its allies.
This is North Korea’s most successful provocation since demonstrating the ability to detonate a nuclear device in 2006. North Korea has now demonstrated a significant leap in its long-range missile capability, and it would be a mistake to assume further leaps forward are beyond its reach in the not too distant future. New and very young leader Kim Jong Un has succeeded where his father did not – a major propaganda victory for him.