Don't Panic October 30 2002

How did North Korea get nuclear weapons, and what does it mean to the U.S.?

p>In September, the U.S. decided to send a high-level delegation to North Korea. The plan was to sit down over a bowl of pickled cabbage and negotiate some more of their weapons away. In exchange, we would offer more economic aid and an upgrade of North Korea's status from "Axis of Evil" to something like "Axis of Not Quite as Evil."

All of which followed their admission and apology for kidnapping a bunch of Japanese citizens in 1978 and sneaking them back to North Korea in bags so they could teach Japanese to North Korean spies (hello, haven't you people ever heard of Berlitz?!). They'd also taken steps to open up their "so backward, it makes backward look forward" economy. And, of course, there was the agreement they signed in 1994 where they promised to abandon their nuclear weapons program in exchange for energy aid. Unlike Iraq, North Korea was a country with which we could negotiate. Or so we thought.

Then they done gone and blew it. North Korea just admitted that it's been secretly kim-cheeting on its 1994 agreement to abandon its nuclear weapons program. Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld recently said that he believes North Korea now possesses "a few" nuclear weapons. U.N. nuclear inspector David Albright says they're producing enough uranium to make two more nukes each year.

So what went wrong? We had a treaty. We had spy satellites. We supposedly have secret agents. How did this happen?

First of all, American, South Korean and Japanese fear of North Korea's military is the only leverage North Korea has with the world. Why we thought they'd abandon it for some oil and help in building power plants, I don't know. They're using these weapons to deter us from attacking them.

Remember, the Korean War ended in 1953 with a ceasefire — not a treaty. We're kinda-sorta still at war with them. Also keep in mind that North Korea isn't really a country. It's a heavily armed cult that makes Orwell's 1984 nation seem like Norway. Their leader, Kim Jong-Il, is a weirdo megalomaniac — a cross between Stalin and Jim Jones. He's a nutcase, not a leader to be trusted. Earlier this year, the man awarded a national medal to an air hammer. As for freedom of the press, North Korea gets numbingly meaningless reports about the life of its president or his late father and previous North Korean Thug-In-Chief, Kim Sung-Il. Recent "news" stories have included a report on one Kim Jung-Il visiting an industrial furnace ... in 1966. And for all you bookworms out there, Volume 45 of The Complete Works of Kim Sung-Il has been published.

That's the "why they did it" part. The "how they did it" part is even easier to explain: Pakistan gave it to them in exchange for missile technology.

Wait a minute! Isn't Pakistan our ally in the War on TerrorTM? Yup, the same ally that sponsored the Taliban and hosted more al-Qaeda members than any country except Afghanistan. They're also a military dictatorship. If America had a mom, she would so ground us before letting us play with Pakistan again.

All this bodes badly for peace. If we renegotiate away North Korean nukes, they're gonna cheat again. If we attack, they might level South Korea before we could neutralize them. Our diplomats are currently in talks with Asian governments to figure out what we're gonna do. In the meantime, let's invade Iraq, shall we?


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