2003 June 13 Friday
North Korea And Iran Up To Nuclear Mischief Together

Iran and North Korea are having meetings related to their nuclear weapons development programs.

The Iranian experts made three visits to North Korea between March and May, the conservative Sankei Shimbun said yesterday, quoting what it described as "a Korean peninsula source", who was not named.

It seems doubtful that they just met to discuss weapons inspectors.

The visits "may have been intended to ask North Korea for know-how on how to act when accepting inspectors", Sankei quoted the source as saying.

"Co-operation on nuclear development may also have been discussed."

These reported meetings may be part of a larger pattern of cooperative activity on nuclear weapons development.

"The level of Iranian-North Korean nuclear cooperation this year has risen dramatically," a senior intelligence source who monitors North Korea said.

United States Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says Iran will be getting nuclear weapons real soon now.

Mr Rumsfeld, who is visiting Germany, said: "The assessment is that they are likely to have nuclear weapons in a relatively short period of time."

Richard Perle, known by his critics as The Prince Of Darkness (see Amir Taheri's interview of Perle from early March 2003), is an influential hawk and member of the Defense Policy Board. In a June 11, 2003 speech Perle says we should be prepared to conduct a unilateral preemptive air strike against North Korean nuclear facilities.

"But I don't think anyone can exclude the kind of surgical strike we saw in 1981," he said, citing Israel's surprise air attack that destroyed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad on June 7, 1981. "We should always be prepared to go it alone, if necessary," he said.

Perle thinks the Iranian people hate their government so much that they can be encouraged to rise up and overthrow it. My own view is that the Iranian people are too apathetic to rebel, that Iran is not in a pre-revolutionary state and even if the government was overthrown the nuclear program may continue because even the so-called moderates in Iran support the Iranian nuclear program.

Will we have to go it alone in dealing with North Korea? We certainly can not count on either South Korea or China. The mood in South Korea is more focused on resentment toward America.

Meanwhile in South Korea, candlelight vigils are scheduled across the country tomorrow to mark the year anniversary since two South Korean middle school girls were run over by a United States armored vehicle.

Robert Koehler does an excellent job of blogging from South Korea on his blog The Marmot's Hole about the mood in South Korea and what the Korean press is saying. What is especially disgusting is the way the South Korean government tries to silence senior North Korean defectors who know details about North Korea's nuclear program. (if the Blogspot offset link does not work then look for the subject title of "A Defector's Story: My escape from North Korea--and South Korea."). The South Korean government and a significant portion of the populace are committed to self-delusion and hiding the truth about North Korea from others in order to pursue appeasement at all costs. So do not expect much help from that quarter.

Is China going to help the US on North Korea? The signs are not hopeful. CNN Senior China Analyst Willy Wo-Lap Lam sees President Hu Jintao's growing influence over Chinese policy as portending a harder Chinese line toward the United States.

It is believed that his policies major areas such as Sino-U.S. relations as well as Taiwan will be tougher than those of former president Jiang, who is often attacked by hardliners in the army for being "pro-U.S."

It may not be possible to foment a revolution in Iran. A revolution may not result in the end to Iran's nuclear program. South Korea and China are unlikely to come around to support America's position on North Korea and cut off funding for the North Korean regime. Also, an air strike against Yongbyon will not knock out the North Korean uranium enrichment program because the location of the North Korean uranium enrichment facilities remains unknown (at least according to various anonymously quoted intelligence sources).

I do not see that the Bush Administration has an effective plan for preventing either Iran or North Korea from making a lot of nuclear weapons. The Bush Administration first attacked the regime that had the weakest set of programs to develop weapons of mass destruction, the weakest military, and a populace that was most prone not to support its government. Now half the US Army is tied down occupying Iraq and the Bush Administration does not have a viable plan for how to tackle the much harder cases of Iran and North Korea. Has the Bush Administration already hit the hight point of its war against the Axis Of Evil?

Update: Howard LaFranchi of The Christian Science Monitor reports many experts think we are quickly running out of time to stop North Korea from going nuclear.

"We may look back and see that a nuclear-armed North Korea was the price of the Iraq war," says Steven Miller, director of the international security program at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. "A North Korea with nuclear weapons will be a much greater international security threat and a much tougher nut to crack. The time to deal with that is now."

Update; China sold Iran uranium in 1991.

Most of the reported violations stemmed from Iran's failure to report the uranium it secretly imported from China in 1991. Iran recently acknowledged the purchase to the IAEA, but only after the deal was first disclosed by Chinese officials. The report says Iran acknowledged converting some of the uranium into metal, as well as conducting research into heavy-water production and heavy-water reactors -- technologies that would give Iran additional options in pursuing either nuclear power or nuclear weapons

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 June 13 02:17 AM  US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control


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