What is the Meaning of the Korean Game?

M. Junaid Alam redjaguar at attbi.com
Thu Feb 6 23:14:40 MST 2003

Mere posturing for bargaining or serious preparations for war? Also
something to consider, given North Korean "opportunism" vis. the US
Going to war in Iraq soon, will the US be more likely to use tactical
Nuclear weapons on other WMD in Iraq as a warning to North Korea?
US is told: turn on us and you get total war

Julian Borger in Washington
Friday February 7, 2003
The Guardian

"I wouldn't label it a crisis," the deputy secretary of state, Richard
Armitage told the United States Senate when he was being interrogated
over the nuclear showdown with North Korea. It was more of a "big
problem", he said.
However careful the Bush administration is with words, it clear that its
North Korea problem is getting bigger by the day, and they are well
aware that Pyongyang is raising the temperature with every degree
Washington turns up the heat on Baghdad.

On Wednesday, when Mr Armitage's boss, Colin Powell, was at the UN
making the case against Saddam Hussein, the North Korean government
announced its intentions to reactivate its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon
which is also the core of its revived nuclear weapons programme.
Yesterday, with characteristic hyperbole, Pyongyang also warned of
"total war" in response to a pre-emptive US airstrike, after the
Pentagon put two dozen long-range bombers on alert to move out to East

The Kim Jong-il regime is not famous for its sense of humour but it is
not hard to imagine it enjoying the administration's discomfort.
Washington is seeking to focus US and international attention on Iraq,
in preparation for military action. To admit it is facing a separate
crisis with a second "rogue state" - this one almost certainly
possessing nuclear weapons - would only heighten already profound
anxiety over the wisdom, morality and repercussions of an invasion of

Experts are divided, however, on Pyongyang's motives. It stunned the US
last year by admitting that it was reprocessing uranium for possible use
in nuclear warheads. Then, when the US cut off oil supplies, it threw UN
inspectors out of Yongbyon and withdrew from the non-proliferation
treaty, indicating its preparedness to make nuclear missiles.


However, some analysts, like David Albright, a physicist and the head of
the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security,
believe that the North Korean government is determined to build itself a
significant arsenal of nuclear warheads. "The reason we see those trucks
at the storage facility might be that they just don't care whether we
see them doing it or not," Mr Albright said.

Kim Jong-il may have come to the conclusion that his regime may be next
on the Pentagon's to-do list, whatever he does. In that case, it may
make sense from his point of view to accelerate his efforts to build up
his nuclear deterrent at a time when Washington is fixated on Iraq.

Once he moves the fuel rods into Yongbyon's reprocessing plant, it
immediately raises the risk involved, should the US try to carry out its
long-standing contingency plan of bombing the plant. An airstrike would
send a plume of highly radioactive dust into the atmostphere. The North
Korean leader is almost certainly right in believing that the Bush
administration's current conciliatory approach will not last. Mr Bush
has expressed his personal loathing for Kim Jong-il, and North Korea is
far more suitable as a target for the Bush doctrine than Iraq. It almost
certainly already has nuclear weapons, and it is far more starved of
cash, making it more likely to sell its warheads abroad.


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