New N. Korean nuke test prompts renewed international concern

Posted on May 25, 2009

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North Korea on Monday carried out an underground nuclear test that was confirmed by seismic observations in South Korea, which registered a 4.7 magnitude tremor as a result of the blast. President Obama called the test a cause for “grave concern”, and warned North Korea it would find neither security or peace on the belligerent path the impoverished Asian nation continues to barrel down. Japan, South Korea, and even North Korean quasi-allies Russia and China condemned the test as well, and an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council was called, though no new developments have as yet arisen from that front.

With the recent test-firing of a long-range missile over Japan, North Korea under an ailing Kim Jong Il has stepped up its belligerence in the last few months since Obama’s inauguration. The President’s call for dialogue with rogue nations has been largely ignored by both North Korea and Iran, the latter of which has rejected a Western nuclear proposal while its President offers to debate Obama at the UN.

I have little faith that UN wrangling will produce little more than a “strongly worded memo” (in the words of Ed Morrissey), especially while Russia and China are likely to continue to obstruct any harsher tactics directed at North Korea. It will take more than strong words to dissuade these rogue nations from pursuing their reckless agenda. It’s been fairly obvious for the last few years that “dialogue” would prove futile against governments that have proven themselves so unwilling to listen. It was why listening to the Obama the candidate lecturing us on the importance of diplomacy and of extending an olive branch to brutal regimes was so frustrating.

Reality, I hope, has now set in, and I hope the administration will take a more pragmatic approach to both Iran and North Korea. As much as I dread the prospect, a harder line than even the Bush administration adopted may be needed to quell the nuclear threat in its tracks, as we can most assuredly not afford to merely “live with” two nations who are likely to sell their nuclear technology to terrorists and who pose grave enough threats as it is. The threat is multipled when the fate of Pakistan’s nukes is in danger as well, and the United Nations cannot sit idly for much longer before the scales begin to tip in the direction of nuclear inevitability for these two rogue nations. Idle words, however, are what I suspect we’ll see more of from an international body that has become largely ineffective and useless to solve international crises of any sort.

Update: North Korea, one day after the nuclear test, has test-fired two more short-range missiles, clearly thumbing its nose at the supposed international “condemnation.” That condemnation came in the form of, you guessed it, a strongly-worded resolution that in the end will solve nothing. The nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran are growing more worrisome by the hour.

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