NK Nuclear Test Threats Only Further Indifference

Recently, North Korea is pushing for a change in their
diplomatic approach to deal with not just countries in Southeast Asia but
Europeans countries as well. However, they are steadily continuing nuclear
threats such as re-operating nuclear facilities in Yongbyeon while pushing for
resumption of the Six Party Talks and mobilizing strategies to break out of
isolation. Such tactics are not new and it will be difficult for North Korea to
successfully reach their goals with crisis making strategies.

In the midst of Worker’s Party Deputy Premier of foreign
policy Kang Sok Ju requesting six party talks without any conditions on
September 7th in Germany, South Korean North Korea nuclear special envoy to the
six-party talks and Special Representative for Korean Peace and Security
Affairs Hwang Jun Guk is expected visit the U.S. on the 9th and meet with
personnel involved in Korean peninsula affairs, such as U.S special envoy and
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davis, the White House,
and Department of Defense in order to hold general discussions regarding the
North Korea nuclear issue. Recent discussions between the U.S. and North Korea
as well as South Korea and the U.S.’s position on the six party talks is that
talk will not take place for talk’s sake and they will not fall for North
Korea’s artificial appeasement offensive unless North Korea first displays
sincere actions for denuclearization.

However, the situation is changing rapidly. This is due to
sightings of North Korea’s 4th nuclear test. On the 5th, the International
Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] reported steams and leaks of coolant coming from
the 5MWe gas-graphite reactor in Yongbyeon. North Korea has formalized the
re-operation of their Yongbyeon various media outlets, such as American North
Korea analytic sources “38NORTH” and “NK NEWS”. However, this report is
significant as a confirmation from the official international nuclear
observation organization IAEA. So now that the threat has been officially
confirmed, will the international society panic and look for a clever scheme to
placate North Korea?

Following agreements with the U.S. in June of 2008, North
Korea stopped operation for several years after blowing up the cooling tower of
the 5MWe reactor. However, last April, while referencing “the General
Department of Atomic Energy of the DPRK adjusting uses of existing nuclear
facilities”, KCNA made an official announcement that measures will take place
for reorganization and re-operation of the previously shut down 5MW graphite moderated
reactor. In late April of this year, rapid movement was seen from the
Punggye-ri nuclear testing facility. Thereafter, North Korea has been
increasing the tension with the U.S. and the international community while
continuing regular threats of nuclear tests. On August 10th of last year, when
asked by reporters during the ASEAN Regional Forum held in Myanmar about
possibilities for a 4th nuclear test, North Korea Secretary for Foreign Affairs
Lee Soo Yong tacitly hinted at the potential for a 4th nuclear test by stating
that North Korea had the power to do whatever they want and would exercise that
power.

And like this, North Korea’s aggressive bargaining approach
of hinting at possibilities for a 4th nuclear test on one hand while demanding
talks on the other is not new. They are using overbearing crisis making tactics
in order to receive requests for talks from their opponents. The U.S. does not
seem to be very alarmed as they are able to see through North Korea’s plan. The
South Korean government’s response is also relatively calm. This is indicative
of the fact that North Korea’s crisis making tactics have lost their usefulness
and originality.

In order for crisis making tactics to be effective, they
must mobilize unpredictable factors and maintain tension for a relatively long
period of time. Or unless they intend to obtain the greatest possible amount of
gain through attrition warfare, victory must be achieved in a short period of
time. However, the topic of North Korea’s 4th nuclear test started last April
and has been dragged on for close to a year and a half, only bringing on the
fatigue and indifference of its opponents. North Korea’s warning flag of a 4th
nuclear test has only gained greater international isolation and cold responses
from China.

If North Korea does extract plutonium with the Yongbyeon
graphite moderated reactor and push ahead with additional nuclear tests, the
path to six party talks that they had hoped for will in reality be cut off. It
is now time for them to realize that tactics of nuclear test threats do not
work for resumption of the six party talks. As long as North Korea possesses
nuclear weapons, it will also be difficult for North Korea to find success in
their recent attempts to diversity their diplomatic partners. If the
international society only desires countries that intend to protect freedom,
the reality is that North Korea must truly take this to heart.

 

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