North Korea Nuclear Test: Diplomatic Tensions and Hypocrisy

North Korea Nuclear Test: Diplomatic Tensions and Hypocrisy

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) The third nuclear test of the DPR-Korea has been met with international diplomatic rows. The DPRK is defending its right to develop nuclear weapons in the face of a very real threat from the USA and the new-found Japanese militarism. What is behind the US, UN, Russian and Chinese criticism of Pyongyang seems to be less base on real political concerns but Hypocrisy.

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Taedong River, Pyongyang. Photo: Kok Leng Yeo

The DPRK´s newsagency KCNA reported: “It was confirmed that the nuclear test – that was carried out at a high level in a safe and perfect manner using a miniaturized and lighter nuclear device with greater explosive force than previously – did not pose any negative impact on the surrounding ecological environment”.

While Pyongyang maintains that the test was part of an effort to protect its national security and sovereignty, the South Korean President-elect, Park Geun-hye condemned the test, saying that her administration would not tolerate a nuclear armed North Korea under any circumstances.

US President Obama warned that “both the test and the earlier satellite launch are a provocation, and that far from achieving its stated goal of becoming a strong and prosperous nation, North Korea has instead increasingly isolated and impoverished its people through its ill-advised pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery“.

It is however, most likely that North Koreans are reluctant to go along with Obama´s reasoning. Is it the nuclear program, or is it the sanctions that impoverish the people of the DPRK, they will be asking. Obama´s promise of “further swift and credible action” is not exactly the message of peace Pyongyang would need to feel less threatened by the US-pivot in Asia. That is, not even mentioning the US track-record in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and japan, where it was the first and only nation to ever use nuclear weapons in anger, murdering tens of thousands.

Obama´s response is begging the question whether he would like to use the same line of reasoning with regard to Israel, which consistently has denied IAEA inspectors access to its nuclear facilities. International analysts suggest that Israel has  200 – 400 nuclear warheads and weapons delivery capabilities. During the most recent Russian and Chinese criticism of Pyongyang and while voting in favor of sanctions, neither Russia or China are mentioning a single word about Israel´s nuclear weapons arsenal either.

Iran used the attention focus by stating that it would endorse the abandonment of all nuclear weapons. As much as Iran´s position is a genuine one, as much is the timing rather opportunistic than related to realpolitik or the legitimate security concerns of the DPRK.

UN Secretary General Ban Kyi-moon condemned the nuclear test and called it “deplorable, and a grave violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions“.

There is just one problem with Kyi-moons tirade. The Security Council is notoriously known for either passing resolutions which conflict with international law or the Charter of the United Nations. Members of the Security Council are notorious for the criminal abuse of both legitimate as well as illegitimate SC-resolutions.

It is understandable that Russia has legitimate  environmental concerns over a nuclear test close to its borders: But then again, how many nuclear tests has Russia conducted before it had experience and know how enough ,to use computer-simulations for future weapons developments; and would Russia guaranty Pyongyang that any attack by either the USA, South Korea or Japan on the DPRK would be equivalent to a declaration of war on Russia ? China would have to answer the same question before criticizing the DPRK too harshly.

The miniaturization of Pyongyang´s nuclear weapons, combined with Pyongyang´s development of intercontinental ballistic missile systems lends Pyongyang, for the first time in history, at least a theoretical possibility to deploy two or three nuclear armed ballistic missiles to Japan and possibly the USA. The USA however, is perfectly capable of intercepting and destroying the odd North Korean ICBM, or even two, three or four of them.

Rather than complaining about Pyongyang´s development of missiles with the capacity to place small satellites into earth orbit, rather than maintaining that the satellite delivery system could possibly be modified so it becomes capable of delivering a nuclear war-head, the real defense issue would be the development of long distance cruise missile systems with stealth capabilities. A low flying cruise missile with stealth capabilities could be a potential threat against the USA, but as far as we know, Pyongyang is not developing that kind of technology.

The fact that the USA complains about the satellite carrying capacity of Pyongyang´s missiles, indicates that the US understands their small defense significance but also understands how to oppose North Korean technological self-sufficiency. A dependent, impoverished, underdeveloped DPRK is a perfect DPRK in the eyes of the USA.

Cutting through the hypocrisy and misinformation, the conclusions that ought to be drawn after Pyongyang´s third nuclear test are obvious ones:

Neither Russia nor China are willing to guaranty Pyongyang´s independence, security and national integrity. Meanwhile, both Russia and China benefit from a Pyongyang that defies the USs and Japan´s regional ambitions.

In the face of regional US and Japanese ambitions, or in the face of a USA, which has sabotaged Korean reconciliation and reunification for decades, can anyone blame Pyongyang for developing a weapon that would at once change the strategic balance and reduce the risk of an attack on the DPRK ? The fact that the USA continues it´s Asian pivot, that is keeps playing Koreans against Koreans while encouraging a new, potentially disastrous recurrence of Japanese militarism can hardly inspire a responsible DPRK leadership to change course.

The fact that sanctions based on UN resolutions are being enforced on the DPRK, or the fact that permanent members of the US Security Council have voted in favor of those sanctions, does not necessarily mean that the sanctions are legitimate, or that they are likely to help reduce legitimate North Korean concerns about the country´s security and integrity.

Realpolitik and the example of Pakistan show, that the only guaranty the DPRK possibly can have against an overt military aggression is a nuclear deterrent. It is a state of affairs that is as deplorable as it is a fact.

About christoflehmann

Christof Lehmann is the founder and senior editor of nsnbc. Christof Lehmann is a political writer, psychologist, and independent political consultant on a wide range of issues, including conflict and conflict resolution, negotiations, security management, crisis management. His articles are published widely in international print and online media and he is a frequent contributor to radio and TV programs. He is a lifelong advocate for human rights, peace and international justice and the prosecution of war crimes - also those committed by privileged nation. In September 2011 Christof Lehmann started the blog nsnbc in response to what he perceived as an embargo on truth about the conflict in Libya and Syria. In 2013, he plans to transform nsnbc into an independent, daily, international online newspaper.
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