As speculation grows that a North Korean missile test could be imminent, discussion has turned to the question of whether the United States should shoot down any missile fired, even if it appears heading into the ocean.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer speaks with Fareed Zakaria to get his take on the latest developments and why China is key to resolving the current tensions.
What do you make of Senator John McCain and some others who say if they launch a missile, shoot it down, intercept it, destroy it – even if it's heading into the middle of the water? Obviously if it's heading toward a populated area in Tokyo or Guam or South Korea, that goes without saying. But just knock it out to make a point?
I think it's a very good example of the difference between what a John McCain foreign policy would be and what President Obama’s has been.
President Obama throughout this has been trying to show some restraint, not to play into the kind of the yank your chain that the North Koreans are trying to do. The North Koreans are desperately trying to get attention, to get some kind of negotiations going, to get concessions. So they have been threatening, clearly like a child who keeps screaming and has not been paid attention to. They're screaming more and more loudly.
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 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.
By David Wright, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: David Wright is senior scientist and co-director on the Global Security Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists. The views expressed are his own.
North Korea has announced that it will attempt another satellite launch in mid-December, only eight months after its failed effort last April. That rocket failed shortly after launch and dropped debris in the waters off South Korea’s west coast.
The Korean Central News Agency reported on December 1 that North Korea will launch its Unha-3 rocket during the period December 10 to 22, and that it will carry a second copy of the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite shown to reporters in April. This announcement was not a surprise since experts monitoring the launch site using commercial satellite images have seen evidence of preparations for a launch over the past few weeks.
Press reports on December 3 said that North Korea is starting to assemble the launch vehicle, with the first stage now on the pad. In the past two attempts the rocket has been assembled on the pad about 10 days before the launch. Also on December 3, North Korea announced the splashdown zones where the rocket stages will fall into the ocean – a common practice that warns ships and aircraft to avoid those areas during the launch window. These show that the launch will be essentially a repeat of the April attempt: North Korea will launch from its Sohae facility on the west coast, and the rocket will fly south rather than east over Japan as several previous launches did. Launching south significantly constrains the launch direction and the trajectory will pass close to South Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and several Japanese islands. This path is similar to that of South Korea’s launches.
By Michael O’Hanlon, Special to CNN
Michael O’Hanlon is senior fellow at Brookings and author of The Wounded Giant: America’s Armed Forces in an Age of Austerity. The views expressed are his own.
Military strikes against the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom, together with other possible targets related to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, could last for a single day and single sortie – or they could last for several days or even weeks. The latter possibility of course implies American participation too, and probably requires the use of air bases in one or more Gulf states as well, given the likely U.S. interest in using stealthy planes that at present don’t fly from aircraft carriers (though B-2 bombers could fly from Diego Garcia, for example).
So what is the likely effectiveness, and what are the likely risks, of each possible approach? I’d argue that there is there is significant unpredictability about how well an air campaign by Israel in particular would work – not least in terms of how much of the existing Iranian nuclear infrastructure it would destroy, and how long it might take Iran to recover (and that’s even leaving aside the huge issue of how Iran might retaliate).
By Brian P. Klein, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Brian P. Klein is an economic consultant and former U.S. diplomat. The views expressed are his own.
Disney characters dancing on stage, women wearing short skirts, and a country's new leader making speeches, smiling, and glad-handing military officers. In most places around the world, that’s nothing unusual. But for North Korea, it marks a sea change in image if not quite reality.
Political transition in Pyongyang has reached its apex with every major title bestowed on Kim Jong Un from head of the military to party boss. Despite concerns over a dynastic handover to the young and untested leader, purportedly just shy of 30 and apparently married, the regime didn’t collapse. And in a highly unusual show of openness this past April, foreign journalists were allowed to cover a rocket launch that ultimately crashed soon after take off. State media even reported the failure.
Editor’s note: Geneive Abdo is director of the Iran program at the Middle East Institute in Washington. The views in this article are solely those of Geneive Abdo.
By Geneive Abdo — Special to CNN
Iran is set for nuclear talks Wednesday with members of the U.N. Security Council, and the Obama administration, as well as some Iranian and European Union officials, expressed optimism that a compromise will be reached.
But it is useful to examine Israel’s long-term objectives for a bit of a reality check.
Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
The just-concluded first round of Iran negotiations with Western powers has produced "a new atmosphere," says Ray Takeyh, CFR's top Iran expert. Just months ago, there was talk of Iran potentially closing the Strait of Hormuz, and of possible Israeli military attacks on Iran's nuclear facilities, but now all parties, Takeyh says, would like "to take a step back and relieve some of the tensions that have surrounded this Iranian nuclear issue in the past couple of months." Takeyh says the Iranians understand that the harsh tone was not serving them well, and that ending tough economic sanctions and forestalling an Israeli military strike are factors in their "being receptive to a negotiating process" and perhaps even willing to curb some uranium enrichment activities. Here's a transcript of the discussion:>
By Nickolas Roth, Democracy Arsenal
President Obama was recently overheard saying to Russian President Medvedev that, assuming he prevails in the election this November, he would have more flexibility to negotiate on arms control issues. In response, some Congressional Republicans have implied that President Obama may have secret plans to aggressively pursue arms control in his second term.
Perhaps Republicans are concerned that the United States will cut its arsenal in half. Maybe they are concerned that President Obama will eliminate an entire class of nuclear weapons. Or maybe they are concerned he would do something dramatic like try to negotiate the total elimination of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons. Well, if he were to accomplish any of these tasks, he would be in good company. These are all feats attempted by Republican Presidents in their second terms. Every second term Republican President since the beginning of the nuclear age (i.e. Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, and Bush II) proposed drastic changes to the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Here's a review:
Hundreds of you have submitted very thoughtful questions for me through Facebook, Twitter and my blog. Here is my response to the question: When countries acquire nuclear weapons, don't they become more emboldened on the world stage?
Nuclear weapons don’t create some kind of magical change of geopolitical position. Do they provide you with some additional sense of immunity and power? Probably they do because it becomes unlikely that the United States is going to invade. But in the case of Pakistan, there was no such guarantee with regards to what India’s actions were going to be.
Does anyone really thing that North Korea or Pakistan are regarded as fearsome adversaries, countries to emulate, countries with great influence in the councils of the world? No. They are regarded as basket cases - failed states that are dangerous largely because they are unstable and are run by irresponsible governments that are willing to do destabilizing things in their region. The result is they are more watched, cordoned off and contained then ever before. FULL POST
Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Fifty-three world leaders pledged to jointly combat the global nuclear terrorism threat at the end of a two-day nuclear summit in Seoul, South Korea. The leaders vowed to pursue nuclear disarmament and combat nuclear proliferation, while supporting "peaceful uses of nuclear energy" (al-Jazeera). Concerns over a planned North Korean rocket launch for next month dominated the summit, prompting international condemnation. U.S. President Barack Obama, who called for a "world without nuclear weapons," met with Russian and Chinese leaders to discuss Iran's nuclear program, which the West contends is for manufacturing weapons.
Editor's note: Richard J. Chasdi is an adjunct assistant professor at the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Wayne State University and the author of "Counterterror Offensives for the Ghost War World: The Rudiments of Counterterrorism Policy" (Lexington Books, 2010).
By Richard J. Chasdi - Special to CNN
World leaders are meeting in Seoul this week to discuss how to deal with the threat of nuclear terrorism.
The effort to prevent the misuse of nuclear materials and the spread of nuclear weapons has long-placed most emphasis on defensive measures. These are essentially on the "supply side" - aiming to choke off the flow of nuclear weapon components and radiological materials to terrorists. While there is a place for such steps, there is another, and perhaps more successful way, to accomplish the goal.
One of the gravest threats to nuclear proliferation arises from the nations that use proxy groups - seemingly independent organizations that are paid to further the interests of governments.
Ending or reducing the use of such proxy groups has real potential to reduce the availability of such materials to terrorists. Perhaps the single, most dominant security threat stems from the nuclear-tipped country of Pakistan, with its accepted use of proxy groups to promote the perceived national interest.
Third-party transfer, where a country receiving weapons sells or gives them to another party, is always a danger, and with it looms the possible catastrophe of nuclear weapons in the wrong hands.