The New York Times, in a story about the suicide of late Hyundai Asan chief Chung Mong Hun, mentions that South Korean trade with North Korea is growing rapidly.
Conservatives saw the project as a cash cow that funneled Pyongyang money that could be used for nuclear weapons. More to the liking of all South Koreans is straightforward inter-Korean trade, which jumped 25 percent in the first half of this year, to $269 million.
"I was in Kaesong a week ago, there were a lot of South Koreans there, still talking about details," said Tony Michell, president of Euro-Asian Business Consultancy, a British company that does business in North Korea. "They are checking the soils and surveying. Work is continuing on the road and railroad."
This makes it harder to apply economic pressure to North Korea.
South Korea is not the only country that is taking steps that make it harder to stop WMD proliferation of course. David Lampton of the Nixon Center says that the US is turning a blind eye on China's export of WMD technology to the Middle East in order to try to win Chinese cooperation on North Korea.
"Iran is a very worrisome problem and they're moving along on their nuclear program, but they're not as far as North Korea and I think we're just saying, 'Let's deal with this problem and then we'll take the next one.' There is no effective policy with respect to North Korea unless China cooperates," Lampton said.
This is a sign of the weakness of the hand the US leaders think they have to play with China on both North Korea and the Middle East.
In the face of a growing likelihood that North Korea will have nuclear weapons that can reach Japan the development of a nuclear arsenal is no longer taboo in Japan.
This month, The Shokun, a major right-leaning magazine, gathered essays from more than 40 prominent writers to debate the issue.
Even journalists with dovish reputations said the option was a valid card to play for political leverage, not only against North Korea but the United States and other nations. Some questioned whether Japan was ready for the responsibility; others preferred Japan to get a missile defense system.
For instance, North Korea's testing of a nuclear device might persuade Japan to quickly go nuclear itself, arms-control experts suggest. A nuclear Japan, in turn, might force China to increase its arsenal. That could put pressure on Taiwan to seek such weapons.
A nuclear Iran, meanwhile, could make it harder to establish pro-American governments in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan.
The US is approaching a point where its attempts to stop WMD proliferation may become a complete failure. Technological and world economic development trends increase the number of countries that can supply relevant technology and the technology becomes steadily cheaper to acquire. Containment strategies based on trade controls and diplomatic agreements are simply inadequate. But so far the Bush Administration has been unwilling to use either trade sanctions to compel more countries (most notably China) to cooperate and the will does not exist to pursue a military option to remove regimes that are pursuing WMD development.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 August 11 03:12 PM US Foreign Weapons Proliferation Control|