2003 August 27 Wednesday
Nicholas Eberstadt on North Korean Nuclear Weapons Program

Here's a very important article by Nicholas Eberstadt on the extreme unlikelihood that North Korea will agree to verifiable nuclear disarmanent.

North Korea is entirely unlikely to be talked out of its nuclear weapons program. This happens to be one of those sorry international disputes in which the most desirable outcome is also the least likely. Indeed, the practical obstacles to securing an irreversible and verifiable end to Pyongyang's nuclear program through diplomatic negotiations alone are not just formidable, they are overwhelming.

Stanley Kurtz agrees with Eberstadt and offers up possibilities I fully agree with.

What are those options? We can try to pressure the Chinese to force regime change, but the Chinese will not act unless they are convinced that America will otherwise go to war with North Korea. We can interdict North Korean shipping and trade in hopes of reducing their exports of nuclear materials. But enough is bound to get through to eventually lead to a nuclear blast in some American city. And the interdiction itself, if it is reasonably effective, may lead to war. Finally, we can go to war with North Korea. I have said for some time, and still believe, that war is the likely outcome. The administration will negotiate, but the negotiations will break down when it becomes clear, as it inevitably will, that the North will not allow effective verification. Meanwhile, during the drawn out negotiations, the North Koreans will continue to develop their nuclear weapons. Once the failure of the negotiations has become obvious, we will be on a path to war, either in the short or medium term. We will intensify interdiction, pressure the Chinese to force regime change, and hope that a bomb doesn’t get through. But at some point, if China doesn’t act, and the extent of North Korea’s nuclear development becomes obvious, we will be pushed into war. The best hope to avoid war is a credible enough threat of it that China finally acts. But the odds still favor war.

The most likely outcome continues to be that we first lose an American city to a terrorist nuke attack and only then attack North Korea for having helped proliferate nukes to the point where some ended up in terrorist hands.

Also see the Marmot and Kevin at IA on Eberstadt's article.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 August 27 09:32 AM  Korea

rabidfox said at August 28, 2003 8:18 PM:

Sadly, I have to agree with the author. At all points. The upcoming nuclear test may well be a definitive turning point. The best outcome would be for China and Russa to take Kim aside and try to unveil some reality for him. 9/11 changed everything and America's response NOW is going to be -take it to the bank Kim - different from what it was THEN.

Invisible Scientist said at August 29, 2003 10:34 PM:

If we lose an American city to a terrorist nuke attack,
then the US will not simply demolish North Korea or
those who sold the nukes to the terrorists, but additionally,
the probability will be very high that the US will
transform itself into a society similar to the one
in the "Starship Troopers" movie.I am talking about
a NEW nation with a military culture that would then impose its will
on the rest of the world by force. It is also possible
that after demolishing North Korea, the US might also
pull out of the Middle East and become a totally isolationist
society. It will become one of the two latter extreme scenarios.

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