TCS Daily

Stalking the Hermit

By Josh Manchester - October 6, 2006 12:00 AM

North Korea has announced via several state-run press agencies that it will shortly conduct a nuclear test. What is going on? What should the US do?

Why This Is Happening Now

American policy against North Korea is working. That policy, in a nutshell, is this: use all methods short of war to harm the economy of North Korea, making it impossible for that government to raise revenue from illicit activities, and thereby more and more difficult to retain power or fund its nuclear ambitions. This creates cascading effects that work in the favor of the US: the possibility of a North Korean collapse forces China and South Korea to consider changing their stances in the six-party talks, making it more likely that the six will agree on a unified plan to de-nuke the peninsula, and that North Korea will have no choice but to accept.

The on-the-ground keystone of this policy is the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). An article in the Times of London over the summer described these efforts in more detail than had previously been reported:

Intelligence agencies, navies and air forces from at least 13 nations are quietly co-operating in a "secret war" against Pyongyang and Tehran.

It has so far involved interceptions of North Korean ships at sea, US agents prowling the waterfronts in Taiwan, multinational naval and air surveillance missions out of Singapore, investigators poring over the books of dubious banks in the former Portuguese colony of Macau and a fleet of planes and ships eavesdropping on the "hermit kingdom" in the waters north of Japan.

This pressure has slowly been tightening a multi-lateral, multi-pronged grip on North Korean power. And it's about to get even tighter. The International Herald Tribune notes that "since last September, the U.S. Treasury Department has persuaded 24 banks in China, Mongolia, Singapore, Vietnam and other countries to shut down North Korean accounts. Last month, Australia and Japan ordered their financial institutions to block transactions by companies suspected of having links to North Korea's weapons programs."

Got that? A new tightening of the screws from last month. And there's even more. The South Korean paper Chosun Ilbo reported last month that "The U.S. has told partners in stalled six-country talks on North Korea's nuclear program that it will take punitive measures against the North under the UN Security Council resolution condemning Pyongyang's July missile tests, officials say."

And there's even more. The same paper, in another article last month, reported that "the U.S. recently sent out official dispatches from its legations around the world informing UN member nations of the steps it will soon take against the North, and asked for their cooperation in adapting similar measures. The U.S. has included stiff measures to stop the purchase and sale of weapons of mass destruction, searches of North Korean vessels, and financial sanctions. Washington apparently made it clear it is determined to crack down on any trade that looks likely to be related to WMDs."

So why is North Korea announcing a nuclear test? Because last month the United States made it clear the world over that the measures which have circumscribed North Korean power are only going to be increased and made more painful still.

Consider: did Pakistan or India announce their nuclear tests beforehand back in the 1990s? No. Then why is North Korea? Because Kim hopes to get something. This is his way of bargaining. Announcing a nuclear test is meant to goad the US into overreaction, split the members of the six-party talks, and bring the entire issue into the front pages of newspapers, gathering publicity for his cause. So what should the US do?

The Game Plan

When the North prepped to test seven ballistic missiles this summer, two former Clinton administration officials issued a breathless warning: "if North Korea persists in its launch preparations, the United States should immediately make clear its intention to strike and destroy the North Korean Taepodong missile before it can be launched." Within their warning was an easy dismissal of the idea that such an act would start a regional war.

Instead, let's take a more calculating, sober view. These should be the steps forward as this crisis plays out:

  1. Reinforce success. The Proliferation Security Initiative is working and is gradually causing a collapse of North Korean state power. Let's reinforce success by adding more money and capabilities to this effort to continue to speed the collapse of the North Korean state and force them to abandon their weapons program. Let's acknowledge that our current course is driving the North Koreans bonkers -- and then just ratchet up the pressure all the more, absolutely unfazed by their threats.

  1. Add international legitimacy to the PSI. The PSI is basically an ad hoc group of nations that are voluntarily assisting the US in enforcing its own sanctions. UN Resolution 1695, enacted earlier this summer, "bans all UN member states from selling material or technology for missiles or weapons of mass destruction to North Korea and from receiving missiles, banned weapons or technology from Pyongyang." That's a good start. But why not take this up a notch, and offer a new resolution stating that any member nation that does engage in such trade with North Korea will immediately be referred to the Security Council for sanctions?

  1. Encourage Japan not to go nuclear - yet. The only way that the six-parties will succeed in getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear program is if they all act in concert. When the North threatens a nuclear test, one of its hopes is that some of the six will overreact. A Japanese announcement to seek nuclear weapons would comprise one such overreaction, especially given the American ability to offer Japan assurance of a nuclear deterrent under its own nuclear umbrella. If Japan announces an intention to pursue nuclear weapons, then the six party talks may dissolve completely. It's very likely that South Korea and China see Japan as more of a threat than North Korea. Indeed, It should come as no surprise that the North made their announcement only days before the new Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is scheduled to visit both South Korea and China. The President might call him before he goes and read a line or two of Kipling: "If you can keep your head when all about you/ Are losing theirs..."

  1. Begin a conversation domestically about a new nuclear doctrine. The Bush Doctrine, announced at West Point in 2002, promulgated a policy of preventive war should the US be threatened by terrorists or rogue states developing weapons of mass destruction. This doctrine needs a corollary of some kind, inspired by the principles of both non-proliferation and deterrence, which sets certain triggers for preemptive nuclear strikes against states that knowingly or not pass nuclear weapons material or know-how to terrorist organizations or other states. Elaborating such a position is beyond the scope of this article, but it's clear that no matter how robust policies like the PSI are, they are still largely defensive in nature, and at some point nuclear weapons, materials or knowhow could slip through. It would be best to attempt to curb this behavior from the get-go by offering severe disincentives for engaging in it.

Such a policy might sound drastic: destroy a state for shipping some nuclear materials? But at its formulation, mutually assured destruction was no less drastic and no less frightening. Consider reports that Iranian officials were present at Pyongyang's missile launches this summer. There's no reason to think they won't be eager observers of North Korea's test. It is just such exchanges in the shadows that most threaten the world's civilization and it's time to develop a policy that addresses them.

Josh Manchester is a TCS Daily contributing writer. His blog is The Adventures of Chester.


And Bush is doing nothing to counter DPRK?
"In a telling example of the programme’s success, two Bush administration officials indicated last year that it had blocked North Korea from obtaining equipment used to make missile propellant.

The Americans also persuaded China to stop the sale of chemicals for North Korea’s nuclear weapons scientists. And a shipload of “precursor chemicals” for weapons was seized in Taiwan before it could reach a North Korean port.

According to John Bolton, the US ambassador to the United Nations and the man who originally devised the programme, it has made a serious dent in North Korea’s revenues from ballistic missile sales. ",,2089-2261782,00.html

reality based blogging
"American policy against North Korea is working." Give me a break! Under Clinton they slowed, the first thing Bush/Bolton did was goad them into restarting. Do we count it a success of our efforts to stop them when they announce a test and we have no alternative but to believe them?

Now, a reality based wingnut might argue that hostile confrontation (the Bush/Bolton strategy) is best, but only a truly unhinged wingnut could argue that the strategy is working -- stopping them from getting a bomb.

Under Clinton they slowed, the first thing Bush/Bolton did was goad them into restarting.
One "restarts" from STOP, not from slow. The idea that they "slowed" under Clinton is conjecture on Madam Albright's part, not fact. DPRK cheated on its "agreement" under the nose of our "pretty" Secretary of State. That is fact.

What nonesense
Oh boy, they slowed their program under Clinton. What a bunch fo cr ap! This whole thing is just another Clinton foreign non-policy issue Bush has had to deal with.

My position? I'm tired of the pussyfooting, these guys were an NNP Treaty signator. Their actions are an international treaty violation of the most serious kind and deserve a non-measured response.

Nuke 'em 'till they glow; it makes it easier to shoot them in the dark. I think the whole world needs a lesson in the horror a real nuclear power can unleash. Maybe then some of the third world nutcases will get the message.

If North Korea conduct a nuclear test successfully, Bush must sucide
Why western people and countires are afraid when any poor country conduct a nuclear test?Iran, Iraq, North Korea have no right to make their nation economically and technologically milatry way stronger, improve the condition of their people? Are white people think these poor countries alway remain slave of western technology,?From genaration to ganaration western people robed them,If western countries bit of moral sense they must give same right which themself enjoying.

Don't goad them!
The liberals want to persue the beaten wife strategy. If he beats me, it's because I deserve it. I must try harder not to goad him. Liberals are fools who have no idea how to survive outside the protections and comforts Americans enjoy.

Stop crying about being a victim and...
do something. Go to Paris and fight the white power. Join the intifada!

I doubt I will get a response, but here goes an attempt at a reasonable answer
They don't. These countries are signators to an international treaty banning the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Even if they weren't, alowing dictatorships, especially wildly unpredictable ones who make claims of a desire to destroy other countries, should not even be considered in a sane world.

If North Koea and Iran were looking only to use nuclear power to help their people prosper, we wouldn't be having this discussion. There is pleanty of evidence that niether want to be limited to that use. They want (and North Korea says it has) nuclear weapons.

No one in the west has "robbed" anyone (Certainly not in the last 50-100 years), especially not North Korea or Iran; In fact, the I would say the OPEC nations have robbed the western world for the last quarter century plus.

No one conducts much nuclear testing anymore. Again treaty bans on these tests has made them all but non-existant. So your arguement, in the present day and international climate, is completely non-sensical because it doesn't happen.

If North Korea explodes a nuclear weapon I think the world response should be to nuke North Korea out of existance. The same for Iran.

And don't goe into the Israel, India and Pakistan arguement. Israel had the weapons before the treaty was ratified; India and Pakistan never signed it. To me, that makes a huge difference.

(However, I would still have done something pretty radical to India and Pakistan back when they did test their nuclear capability. Now we can only negotiate limits and peaceful resolutions. It is very hard to put the genie back in the bottle.)

as usual, LG believes propaganda, not facts
There is not the slightest shred of evidence to support the claim that NK slowed their nuke preperations in response to Clinton's begging.

So you have no problem with any country other than the US blowing up people?

God given premission only to western countries to keep Atombomb
White people are most favourable and most privailage for God.

Not at all.
Western countries tend to be stable, democratic and do not start wars unless they are attacked.

India and Pakistan go to war every ten years or so. Do you want to be living in Bombay or Islamabad the next time war breaks out?

Iran is a country that has sponsored terrorism all over the world. They clearly have no concern for the lives of the innocent. They also believe that if they are killed fighting infidels, they will go to Paradise with 70 virgins. People like this cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons.

Kim Jong-Il is a lunatic. No sane person would let him have anything sharp, let alone a nuclear weapon.

The West dosen't do a skin color test to see if you can have nuclear weapons, they ask themselves: Will they use these weapons against us or their neighbors without a darn good reason?

Is this what you believe?
That white people are the most favored of God?

Ragging Hun Ath
You apparently suffer from the terrible delusion (among your many others) that the Arab and Persian people are of a different race than the people who are ancestral to Western Europe. Too bad, so sad, but Arabs and Persians are Caucasians, too.

Mohammed's first cousin and cohort described the Prophet as "rosy white" in complexion, just in case you wanted to sell more of your racist horse s h i t.

All mankind born from monkey. Our forfather never fight on colour.or on race
You white people are true enemy of mankind. somebody rightly told that white people are curse to mankind.
Real culprit is U.S.who is responsible for war between India and Pakithan

In re action item #3
In the event of a nuclear test in NK, it would be amusing, instructive to NK, and perhaps even effective, for the US to launch a ballistic missile with a dummy warhead and have it land within 200yds of the test site. It would show that Japan has no need of going nuclear.

North Korea
"From genaration to ganaration western people robed them"
Where is your evidence we've been putting robes on them? And what's wrong with clothing them, anyway?
Seriously: Iran, Iraq, and North Korea have every right to improve the condition of their people, which is the precise opposite of what Iran, North Korea, and Saddam-Iraq have done. Western civilization promotes freedom, justice, and human advancement; Communism and Islam destroy those values. That is why we are right to oppose them and if necessary destroy them.
Against whom do you think North Korea is making weapons of mass destruction? What is their need for such weapons? Who is going to attack them? North Korea is adjacent to only two countries, China and South Korea. China wants the continued existence of North Korea and is believed to be propping up N.K.. If China wanted to destroy N.K., it would be gone in a week, with or without nukes. Free nations have demonstrated that they have no interest in attacking communist nations even when they collapse, so North Korea has little to rationally fear from South Korea. But North Korea's government is not rational, which is the base of the problem. It wants weapons to attack, enslave, destroy, and gain sycophants.

That's possibly true
regardless, it's not the question I asked you.

and just how did US get India and Pakistan to fight wars?
I always suspected that you were a racist as well as an idiot. Thank you for proving it.

I think you got it backwards
Is there a slight shred of evidence to support the claim that Bush has slowed NK's nuke preparations?

Has NK made more progress during Clinton's 2 terms, or 6 years so far of Bush's 2 terms?

To say their progress slowed during Clinton is accurate because of the speeding up of their progress under Bush.

Clinton wasn't successful. We thought he was before we learned they were violating the treaties and keeping it secret. The fact is, the plutonium was sealed thanks to Clinton's efforts. When Bush came in and scrapped all of Clinton's policies of carrots and sticks, in favor of a policy of threat, North Korea called Bush's bluff, they unsealed the plutonium and now 6 years later they actually conducted a nuclear test. What has Bush done to stop that? More threats, sanctions and rely solely on 6 party talks. Well, Bush's threats have been proven feckless. Sanctions are hurting NK but haven't slowed progress on nuclear proliferation. 6 party talks are a failure because we handed it off to the other 5 parties rather than aggressively pursue talks on our own.

Where is the proof of Manchester's statement? "American policy against North Korea is working." Manchester outlined a few successes in the effort, but doesn't the fact they tested a nuclear bomb prove the American policy is NOT working?
For example, does the arrest of the 12th hijacker prior to 9/11 prove our efforts to stop 9/11 were successful? According to Manchester's logic it does.

BTW, this is just crazy, 6 long years later, you right wingers are still crying about Clinton upon seeing criticism of your guy Bush. Is that really your argument, Bush is successful because Clinton was a failure?

Oh, but Bush is strong on national security, he talks tough, he doesn't negotiate. Well guess what, that fails when you don't back it up. NK called our bluff, now we're naked in the street with our wanker dangling in the wind. And theres Iran, looking and laughing cause they know they can do whatever they want. Hell, they just put Israel through the ringer, fighting them with another army in another country! And Iran came out looking stronger! Our army is acting as a shooting target in Iraq, dictators got nothing to worry about from America anymore. We took down Saddam but now we're proving we can't finish the job. Yeah, Bush's America is real tough.

Still think it's working?
Did Bush keep nukes from North Korea? From Iran?

Let's face it, the Bush administration likes to strut and bluster, but in the end, they are not able to protect America.

the truth be not in you
In fact, I doubt you would recognize the truth if it bit you in your partisan hindquarters.

The evidence is that NK finished their nuclear preperations during the Clinton watch. They announced that they had built their first device in Bush's first couple of years.

Once Clinton decided to let the NK's remove the fuel rods from the nuke plants, the game was over. Clinton bribed them to stop, but there isn't a shred of evidence to support the claim that they did stop. As usual, the evidence goes to the claim that they kept up their work, using the technology Clinton gave them to speed up the process.

NK had nukes before Bush was president.
Once Clinton gave them the go ahead, and the technology, this result was inevitable.

Let's face it, liberals like to strut and bluster, but in the end, they are incapable of telling the truth.

thats easy to say
In fact, a lot that you say mark is pretty easy to say. You use the right words, evidence, facts, but you never back it up.

"The evidence is that NK finished their nuclear preperations during the Clinton watch."

What does "finished their nuclear preparations" mean? Thats a very general statement for a very complex issue.

And what evidence? Please provide a link, something, anything that is evidence. I'm looking for it myself and all evidence I've read so far shows Bush is far more of a failure in dealing with NK.

"They announced that they had built their first device in Bush's first couple of years."

They didn't announce they built their first device, they admitted to a secret uranium enrichment program. We confronted them about it, their representative mistakenly admitted to it. Wouldn't you know, that admission was kept secret from the public until 5 days after Congress authorized the use of force in Iraq. Hmmmm... amazing coincidence.

"Once Clinton decided to let the NK's remove the fuel rods from the nuke plants, the game was over."

Thats total nonsense. You have to provide a link to this information, I challenge it as total fabrication. As I'm aware, there were inspectors in NK, their rods were sealed and under surveillance, from the 1994 agreement until 2002 when they kicked out inspectors, unplugged the cameras and started processing the rods again.

Heres a timeline:

I'm not trying to argue everything Clinton did was correct. My argument is 1. Bush's policies with NK are failing, counter to the premise of the article. and 2. Bush is failing on a much larger scale than Clinton did. (the only reason Clinton is a part of this discussion is because of your strategy for confronting criticism of Bush- blame Clinton) Argument 2 doesn't really matter, except to you in your desperation to glorify Bush. Argument 1 is indisputable.

reality for the liberal
it means that NK finished their reprocessing, concentration steps and started building bombs. It's widely acknowledged that NK had one or two bombs before Bush even took office.

As to your evidence that Bush is a failure, to you, breathing is evidence that Bush is a failure.

Regardless, what could Bush have done?
He couldnt invade. Not without risking the total destruction of SK. NK has 10,000 artillery pieces within range of Seoul. With them he could have rained several million artillery shells on SK.

Once Clinton gave NK the go ahead to build the nukes, and with 6 years to advance their program before Bush took office, that deal was done.

Any evidence?
Or are you still just talking.

Again your points are simply incorrect, and will remain so until you have some support for it.

"It's widely acknowledged that NK had one or two bombs before Bush even took office."
"Once Clinton gave NK the go ahead to build the nukes, and with 6 years to advance their program before Bush took office, that deal was done."

Support? Proof? Anything?

"Regardless, what could Bush have done?
He couldnt invade."

Good point. He couldn't use his only negotiating tactic. Which is why he is a failure.

the proof is there, except for those who's ideology won't let them look
Clinton tried negotiating. What he got was a nuclear NK.

The last chance to invade was in 1994, when NK was taking the rods out of the power plants.

Liberals like to think that spending enough of other people's money will solve any problems.

NK took Clinton's bribes and used them to speed up their weapons programs. And you call that a success.

You declare Bush a failure because he won't repeat a program that has failed so many times before.

ah, "the proof is there", now I'm convinced
You're such a joke. Still no evidence, and you're still making incorrect statements.

"The last chance to invade was in 1994, when NK was taking the rods out of the power plants."

1994 was when they stopped taking out the rods, when inspectors entered the country and surveillance on the rods started. You can look it up, I sent you a link.

The rest of your post isn't worth responding to. I've tried to have a meaningful discussion with you. You're just not interested. You say the same tired things over and over, no matter what subject we're talking about.

They may have sent inspectors, but they weren't allowed to see anything.

Your evidence, like everything else you provide, is sufficient to convince you. But then your mind was made up since before you were born.

Brookings Institute makes it clear that N.K. had violated the Agreed Framework
long before Bush was sworn in.

Anyone who thinks the Brooking Institute is right wing, probably thinks Mao was a moderate.

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