Sunday, May 23, 2010

North Korea using its Nuclear Program as Political Tools

Nuclear deterrence

Some scholars and analysts have argued that North Korea is using nuclear weapons primarily as a political tool, particularly to bring the U. S. to the table to begin re-establishing normal relations and end the long-standing economic embargo against North Korea. A key point of this agreement is the observation that the threat of nuclear weapons is the only thing that has brought the U. S. into serious negotiations. In a lecture in 1993, Bruce Cummings asserted that, based on information gathered by the CIA, the activity around the Yongbyon facility may have been done expressly to draw the attention of U. S. satellites. The also pointed out that the CIA had not claimed North Korea had nuclear weapons, but that they had enough material to create such weapons should they choose to do so. North Korea’s energy supply has been deteriorating since the 1990s. Although North Korea’s indigenous nuclear power capacity is insignificant, the two light-water moderated plants, if built, would be an important source of electricity in a nation with scarce resources. Although couched in a derisive statement, Donald Rumsfeld demonstrated the severe lack of electricity for the entire nation in a photograph released in October 2006. Another factor in this argument is that many parties have a vested interest in the claim that North Korea has nuclear weapons. For North Korea, it has been a bargaining tool for opening diplomatic discussions and receiving aid. The Grand National Party, currently the opposition party in South Korea, has made their disagreement with the Sunshine police a major political wedge. Leading politicians in Japan have openly expressed a desire to remove Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, and the threat of a nuclear-armed North Korea feeds into the perceived need for a larger standing army and defense force. The Bush administration in the United States has also made the threat of terrorism the central focus of foreign policy since the September 11, 2001 attacks. The U. S. maintains a force of nearly 40,000 troops in South Korea, the second largest in East Asia that would likely have to be curtailed if the political situation changed significantly in Korea, something expected to negatively affect the U. S. sphere of influence in the region.

On March 17, 2007, North Korea told delegates at international nuclear talks that it is preparing to shut down its main nuclear facility. The agreement was reached following a series of six-party talks, involving North Korea, South Korea, China, Russia, Japan, and the U. S, begun in 2003. According to the agreement, a list of its nuclear programs will be submitted and the nuclear facility will be disabled in exchange for fuel aid and normalization talks with the U. S. and Japan. This had been delayed from April due to a dispute with the United States over Banco Delta Asia, but on July 14, IAEA inspectors confirm the shutdown of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor.

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