Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch
by Annie Lu
Taking a look at the global news of late yields a rollercoaster of ups and downs that may be difficult to decipher without some long-range context. It is fairly common knowledge that North Korea has been a belligerent on the international stage for some time now, dropping a missile here and a nuclear threat there, and engaging world leaders in verbal warfare. The thaw between North and South Korean relations that came during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics seemed to indicate progress ahead. More recently, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced that they would stop nuclear tests and some missile tests, now that they have finished their nuclear ICBM program. This seem like an olive branch offered by North Korea just before scheduled visits between Kim and the leaders of the United States and South Korea—North Korea even announced they would shut down their nuclear testing site.
President Donald Trump has already proclaimed the development a triumph, tweeting “This is very good news for North Korea and the World—big progress!” However, the reason Kim has stated for pausing tests is a lot more ominous when dissected thoroughly. North Korean media quoted him as saying such: “No nuclear test and intermediate-range and inter-continental ballistic rocket test-fire are necessary for the DPRK now, given that the work for mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets was finished… the development of delivery and strike means was also made.” As Lockie from Business Insider put it, “Basically, Kim says North Korea has stopped testing because it’s done testing.” Testing is no longer necessary… because they already have the technology and capabilities to fire their missiles, complete with nuclear warheads. Now that sounds more like a threat. This action was not necessarily taken as an act of goodwill towards other nations; it simply happens to have fallen at a convenient time where it may also be construed as an effort towards diplomacy.
An expert on North Korea at the Atlantic Council, Robert Manning, has revealed that evidence supports that another nuclear device test by North Korea could destroy an entire test site. They might be capable of bringing down mountains. Trump’s unfounded claim that North Korea has “agreed to nuclearization” is dangerously misleading in that North Korea’s definition of “denuclearization” is vastly different from what Trump is suggesting. The North has made no indication that they are willing to dispose of their current nuclear arsenal. Most experts agree that it is naive to assume any world leader can convince Kim Jong Un to abandon his nuclear weapons. It can be concluded that the announcement Kim made last Friday is somewhat better than continued testing, but far short of a definitive success. North Korea has a history of reneging on their agreements: the Bush Administration in 2002 revealed North Korea had been operating a secret nuclear weapons program in violation of their 1994 agreement; North Korea withdrew from the 1985 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003; North Korea missed the deadline to disable its weapons facilities as promised earlier in 2007. The list goes on. All that most people can do now is watch, wait, and hope for the best.
- Colvin, Jill. “President Trump Says North Korea Agreed to Denuclearize. It Hasn’t.” Time. 22 April 2018.
- Lockie, Alex. “Kim Jong Un’s latest play for peace was actually a declaration that it’s ready for nuclear war—and it just might get it.” Business Insider. 23 April 2018.
- “North Korea Nuclear Timeline Fast Facts.” CNN Library, CNN. 3 April 2018.