Thursday, October 6, 2011

North Korea Nuclear Program Crisis Research Paper

North Korea Nuclear Program Crisis Research Paper

This paper focuses on the event of the nuclear weapons program crisis in the East Asia realm and its effects on the regions from near and far. I am only going to focuses on a couple of countries in that region for simplicity. China (The People's Republic of China), the superpower to the west; Japan, the superpower of the east, North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea); South Korea, the bottom half of the Korean Peninsula, as well as the U.S. involvement in the nuclear weapons program.

North Korea's nuclear program based in Yongbyon continues to build upon a growing arsenal that threatens U.S. cities and other countries. On several fronts, the U.S. is making efforts to control the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons-- the weapons of mass destruction. All of this comes in the wake of the U.S. confronting officials in Pyongyang with U.S. evidence of the secret uranium project, which violated the 1994 Agreed Framework international agreements.


The Clinton Administration's 1994 Agreed Framework allegedly froze North Korea's nuclear weapons program in return for low-cost oil and two atomic reactors to produce electricity. "In the deal North Korea was to end all efforts to enrich plutonium for weapons and open its facilities to international oversight"(Hoagland 2003). The U.S. insisted that North Korea began cheating on the agreement almost as soon as the ink was dry. It was also critical of provisions that had U.S. taxpayers financing the supply of fuel oil for North Korea in return for its agreement to freeze, but not dismantle, the program. Months after signing of the deal, North Korea managed to cut a deal with Pakistan to trade missile technology, and began a secret uranium processing facility near the Chinese border. There was not enough evidence of this at the end of the Clinton Administration for action to be taken. Over the next couple of years, the Bush Jr. Administration continued to compile evidence of the broken agreement, and in late October of 2002 the U.S. confronted officials in Pyongyang with U.S. evidence. North Korea admitted it was pursuing the program and would continue until they got the non-aggression pact from the United States. Bush put the squeeze on North Korea by cutting off the U.S.-supplied fuel oil. North Korea responded by restarting the plant, previously frozen, that fabricates weapons fuel project to generate electricity, worth $4.6 billion, which was largely financed by South Korea and Japan. It also announced that it would re-start the plutonium processing plant, as well as withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

As with all the evil empires that fell before, North Korea buys time to survive an economic gamble of extorting huge flows of international aid by constantly threatening to expand its nuclear and missile arsenals. The hard-nosed do-it-alone cowboy President Bush pulled another trick out of his hat by employing the six nation talks. The six-nation talks- include North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Russia, and the United States. The goal of the six nations talks is to discuss the nuclear crisis situation further with North Korea, but North Korea wanted to discuss nothing further. Instead it threatened to keep and strengthen its "nuclear deterrent force" by reprocessing spent fuel rods with chemicals to yield enough plutonium to make a dozen more nuclear weapons. The U.S., along with members of the six-nation talks are trying to get North Korea to surrender its nuclear programs, but according to the Associated Press, North Korea says "it will only do so if the United States signs a non-aggression treaty, as well as provide economic aid and open diplomatic ties before it can feel safe enough to dismantle its program." Bush said he would strike no bargain unless the North Korea scrapped its nukes first.

There is no reason to doubt that North Korea feels threatened - in general by its own weakness and isolation, and in particular by a Bush Administration which calls it names ("axis of evil"), has a declared doctrine of dismantling any acts of terror, and has shown in Afghanistan that it means business. Hence it seems logical to Kim Jong-Il to assemble a vast arsenal, by fair means or foul, to ensure he avoids the fate like that of the Taliban or Saddam Hussein. Equally, North Korea is desperately short of resources and has no other chips to bargain with to contain the U.S. threat or to win the much needed economic assistance and aid.

North Korea's government is ruled by a one-man dictatorship, Kim Jong Il, who is in his second reign and oversees the country's 1.1 million armed forces- the world's fifth largest military. "North Korea is already one of the poorest places on Earth. The government not only starves their people, but also puts them to work as slave laborers in concentration camps" (Max Boot, 2003). The government depends on funding from its export of legal goods and illicit ones such as drugs, missiles, and counterfeit currency. This income is supplemented by foreign aid. What little money the regime has goes to support the armed forces. Bush was quoted as forthrightly denouncing communism, tagging North Korea and Iran the "axis of evil". The key thing that will change in respect to North Korea is that there's now pressure here, in this region, from China, Japan, and South Korea.

China is the country with the closest ties to North Korea and could play a key role in dissuading Kim from his nuclear stand. China shares a border with North Korea and has a long history of propping up the country's bankrupt regime. "Today China is North Korea's biggest benefactor, providing an estimated 40% of immediate food needs and 90% of its oil," according to the Heritage Foundation, a Washington D.C.-based research institute. For China, the situation looks threatening. If North Korea has nukes, South Korea and possibly Japan will feel pressured to develop nuclear strike capabilities of their own to deter North Korea. That raises concerns to China which already shares borders with nuclear powers India, Pakistan, and Russia it faces its eastern flank armed with weapons of mass destruction-- pretty scary. To China, the greatest fear is a broken North Korea, perhaps leading to what the Bush Administration calls "regime change." A breakdown in the North Korean government could send a flood of millions of starving Koreans into the already heavily populated nation.

Japan has long since had tension with North Korea since Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan and Kim met for a landmark summit meeting a year ago in Pyongyang. Kim admitted that North Korea had abducted Japanese nationals to train as spies in the 1970s and 80s. This triggered outrage in Japan. Since then, Koizumi has suspended food aid and humanitarian assistance to the North and joined the United States in calls for an end to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons development. You can imagine North Korea did not take too this to well. "The North Korean newspaper urged Tokyo to "stop cooperating" with the United States in the interests of its own security" (French Press, 2003). The abduction issue is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the normalization of ties between North Korea and Japan.

South Korea remains bi-partisan, not wanting to hurt its position with the U.S. or North Korea. The Korean Peninsula, which has long been a divided country and the Koreans a divided nation, is looking towards unification for the second time since the Korean War. "North and South Korea are in what geographers call regional complementarity. This condition arises when two adjacent regions compliment each other in economic-geographic terms. North Korea has raw materials that the industries of South Korea need; South Korea produces food that the North need; North Korea produces chemical fertilizers farms in the South need"(Blij, p.487).

What to do? Clinton offered fuel oil for a shutdown of North Korea's nuclear reactors, but Kim Jong Il cheated. Bush took a tougher line. Japan fears missiles and is angry over North Korean kidnappings of its citizens. South Korea wishes it would all go away, but it is opening cross-border routes despite the nuclear crisis. China and Russia are fed up with rebel Kim Jong Il, the prot of his late father Kim Il Sung, who attacked recent six-party talks in Beijing as a "stage show".

Now the fear is that North Korea may test a bomb. It's hard to see how this nuclear crisis situation could end. The U.S. is in a situation now to increase security by including other countries in talks with North Korea because our attention is still in Iraq, and to avoid another war that the U.S. cannot afford to begin. The hard line has to be drawn and followed. The Clinton administration responded with high-level negotiations, but was undermined from the time the ink dried. Maybe its time to stop negotiating with these evil empires, and make a permanent statement on the war on terrorism by taking away the things they rely on the most. The U.S. needs to make crystal clear that it will not be threatened, or taken for a joy ride on what seems like a roller-coaster of lies and deception. The U.S. gave them the opportunity with the Agreed Framework in 1994, and they proved that they never had any attention of following that pact. So why should the U.S. attempt to make new negotiations on what could be the very foundation of the North Korean government to buy more time to stock their piles of nuclear weapons? I whole- heartedly believe that the U.S. should finish the conceived idea that the Clinton Administration had on bombing the nuclear program in Yongbyon, and destroying any opportunity North Korea has to continue building the weapons of mass destruction.

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