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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 17:24, October 30, 2006
US seeking favorable development of Korean nuclear issue
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The nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is a shift from secrecy to openness for the country on its possession of nuclear arms. Superficially, the nuclear test is of some concern to the United States, but it is quite possible that the United States may be the biggest beneficiary of the DPRK test.

Nuclear non-proliferation is not the US' goal

In the US national security strategy, the prevention of nuclear proliferation is simply a way to ensure national security. The US is not absolutely against nuclear proliferation; its possession of nuclear weapons is proof of this. It benefits from international cooperation in developing its own nuclear weapons. Sharing its nuclear knowledge is a form of proliferation. The Manhattan Project, for instance, was a joint nuclear research program between the US, Britain and Canada and the atomic bomb was partially built with the help of these wartime allies. Britain continued to research nuclear weapons and Canada did not. The United States' missile defense project with Japan is another such project to share nuclear knowledge. This is nuclear knowledge proliferation; the key is with whom it is shared.

The United States has no lingering points of contention with Britain and France over the development of their nuclear program, because it believes that western democratic countries, even with nuclear weapons, pose no danger to US security. The US has also accepted the fact that Israel has nuclear weapons, though Israel has refused to confirm or deny this. If Israel does in fact have nuclear weapons, this will presumably be a deterrence to attack from other countries in the region. This would be a boon for the US too as political and military pressures could be shared, increasing the security of the United States.

After the eastern democratic nation of India tested nuclear weapons, the US quickly realized that imposing sanctions was not the best direction to take. It chose instead to find ways to encourage India to be a responsible nuclear power and to help India develop into one of the economic superpowers of the 21st century. It even wanted to develop a civilian nuclear power program with India. This was in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

India established a nuclear program not to defend against or attack the US, Russia, Britain, China, France or even Pakistan. India has three to seven times the amount of conventional weapons that Pakistan has. It is Pakistan that needs nuclear weapons. It is clear that the United States' deliberate violation of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty was a move to contain other nations. US assistance to India is a kind of nuclear proliferation, vertical proliferation.

This clearly indicates that nuclear non-proliferation is not America's strategic objective. Its strategic goal is national security. The US helped India to help curb the rise of autocratic nations. As long as the US needs anti-terrorism support, the US will keep Pakistan on side as a non-NATO ally and give it billions of dollars of support. It no longer worries about the impact of a nuclear Pakistan on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It will not concern itself with the legitimacy of the Pakistani government, or investigate the legal liabilities of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of the Pakistani atomic bomb.

In America's eyes, nuclear proliferation is classified into the acceptable and the unacceptable. The former benefits US security, the latter does not. When US allies break or bend nuclear rules, they are not opposed. When its rivals have nuclear weapons, the US takes a pragmatic approach. When nations not allied to the US have nuclear arms, the US faces reality and gradually grows to value its relationship with those other countries, ultimately trying to incorporate them into its global strategy.

US seeks advantageous position in region

It is important to understanding the United States' long-term utilitarian attitude toward non-proliferation, which is quite different to China's staunch opposition to any form of nuclear proliferation. China needs to grasp the US's agenda in the DPRK following nuclear testing and predict the possible evolution of US policy on the Korean Peninsula.

The United States has had to register its objection to the DPRK's nuclear test to be politically correct. China perceives this as part of the US' overall strategy in the region. The US has been monitoring the DPRK"s nuclear development for a long time and suspected DPRK of having nuclear weapons as early as a decade ago. It was fully prepared for the DPRK to take this step, and may already be resigned to the DPRK becoming a nuclear power.

The United States abandoned talks with DPRK at the end of last year. The US imposed economic sanctions on the DPRK and found reasons for the DPRK to be excluded from Six-Party talks. In the meantime, it asked China to share the responsibility of a nuclear DPRK, despite the fact that DPRK claims it was pressure from the US that forced it to develop nuclear weapons. Considering the difficulty of the mission, the requests of the United States are bound to drive a wedge between China and North Korea. The Bush administration's sanctions have caused the DPRK to believe that talks with the US have become impossible. The US is remolding North Korea's foreign policy by taking positive measures to induce the DPRK to conduct nuclear tests, imposing sanctions under the multilateral framework of the UN and weakening China's influence on North Korea.

The United States is also making strategic use of Japan and South Korea in the Korean nuclear issue. In recent years, the relationship between the United States and South Korea has weakened. South Korea insists on its Sunshine Policy for North Korea. South Korean people are more and more dissatisfied about the United States over the issue. The DPRK nuclear test will isolate the two neighboring countries, which is beneficial the US.

The next president must adjust policy on DPRK

America is confident that North Korea would not forfeit its nuclear arms and knows that a war is not a political possibility. It has to resolve the issue peaceful means, but needs to ensure the DPRK becomes a responsible nuclear state. North Korea claims it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons, that it will not sell or proliferate nuclear weapons or technology and that it is not involved in international terrorist activities.

The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1718 to impose sanctions on DPRK. As long as the DPRK guarantees its nuclear weapons are only for self-defense purpose, it will have no trouble with the US, at least until the next President of the United States is sworn in.

The US-led war in Iraq and the sanctions the Bush administration has imposed on the DPRK have affected North Korea's awareness of security; relations between the two countries have seriously deteriorated. Hopefully the next president of the United States will adjust its policy and hold talks with the DPRK.

North Korea has boosted its confidence in terms of security and will be more willing to interact with the US, as it is still being isolated by the broader international community. This is North Korea's position now but US will ultimately lift the sanctions it has imposed on the DPRK. The US will seek favorable development in the regional situation.

By People's Daily Online


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