Monday, October 09, 2006

North Korea Tests Nukes

World Condemns North Korea's Nuclear Test - New York Times
It would appear that the North Koreans have finally tested their first nuclear weapon.
North Korea said it tested its first atomic bomb in an underground explosion Monday morning. The White House said U.S. and South Korean intelligence detected a seismic event at a suspected North Korean nuclear site and were trying to confirm Pyongyang's claims.
The US and Australia now seem ready to turn the security council loose on them.
The United States and Australia demanded immediate U.N. Security Council action against North Korea for its reported nuclear test, while China condemned its ally for blatantly defying the world.
The tests are seen as a provocative act of defiance by much of the world.

The North Korean government paints a slightly different picture. Text of North Korea Announcement
It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the KPA [Korean People’s Army] and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defense capability.

It will contribute to defending the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the area around it.

This all just reminded me of something I read this weekend in one of my text books.
The idea of deterrence due to the threat of mutual annihilation is really a product of a bipolar world and relies on the rationality and stability of the actors concerned. But as Keith Colquhoun (1993: 210) has put it: "The problem of North Korea is that the government is widely perceived to be insane."
I'm really not totally up to speed on why the North Korean government is so often labeled as insane, but the idea of procuring nukes is not in and of itself a reason for that label. Plus, if they are testing underground under scientific monitoring that seems at least as responsible as any other country and more responsible than some (remember France's test of nukes IN THE ATMOSPHERE not too long ago). If nuclear weapons are going to be synonymous with international power and first world status, third world countries are going to want to acquire them. Period. For the first world to tell the third world that we can have them and they can't, especially with the reason given that we can be trusted and they can't, just isn't going to fly.

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