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Wednesday, July 30

North Korea: A Threat?

Should we attack or shouldn’t we? Why not, isn’t North Korea a threat to us, and why not attack them with what ‘murky intelligence’ we have got? Surely acting on such murky intelligence, Tony Blair would say, is better than waiting for the enemy to strike at us?

Therefore, we have a right, the hawks would say, to be worried about North Korea’s capabilities and motivations. So, attack. Alas, but no. Such hawks shall not get their way this time – because George Bush seems determined to deal with North Korea with diplomacy – something he did not feel was appropriate for Iraq.

Recently, North Korea celebrated its 50th anniversary of the Korean War truce, seen as Pyongyang’s brilliant victory, and the humiliation of the US. Perhaps now is the time, on this momentous occasion, to increase the drive for more arms to defend themselves against their rival, George Bush. A US report suggests that North Korea may have built a secret facility for producing weapons grade plutonium. North Korea has claimed that it has produced enough plutonium to start nuclear bombs – whether this is a threat of aggression or a warning for US pressure to back off, only time will tell. Meanwhile, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog called Pyongyang the most serious threat to nuclear proliferation.

All evidence points to the fact that North Korea might be gliding through a course that the West fears; therefore, diplomatic pressure has been given the green light, stopping short of outright war. However, are we not indulging in hypocrisy, saying North Korea should not have nuclear weapons? After all, North Korea does have a threat: the US. Should it not be allowed to defend itself, especially when George Bush decides to use a threatening tone on North Korea, before indulging in a fully fledged war? Then, at that time, North Korea wouldn’t have the weapons to defend itself. Wait a minute. Wasn’t this the situation that Iraq faced? Iraq didn’t have nuclear weapons, so wasn’t it vulnerable to threats and later to war that it lost with much humiliation?

After all, the US deems many countries as threats: Syria, Iran, and Cuba to name a few. Therefore, before either country has the chance to attack the US builds a global defence system – which starts with 10 interceptor missiles to be ready by 2004. However, some experts say that, given the threats facing the US, the money would be better spent on countering terrorism. Perhaps Washington should take its own advice rather than taking others. It might prove fruitful.