Only talks can solve N Korea threat

A month after it riled the world with its fourth underground nuclear test, North Korea has
done it again, this time by launching a rocket into space. Its government said that the rocket was carrying a satellite. However, few in the international community are convinced of the benign intentions of the rocket launch. Pyongyang’s rocket launch is believed to have been aimed at testing ballistic missile technology. The successful test signals its expertise to launch a long-range missile with potentially offensive capabilities. Opinion is divided over whether the missile can carry nuclear weapons. Even if it cannot, there is reason for concern as with every test, North Korea’s missile technology is improving. The latest missile is believed to have a range of around 13,000 km and capable of carrying a payload of 500 kilograms compared with the roughly 10,000 km range of the missile that was tested in 2012. This means that the new missile could reach the mainland of the US. More worrying is its impact on regional security. Tension is escalating in an already edgy East Asia. It could deepen the arms race. The US has announced that it will help South Korea deploy an advanced missile defence (AMD) system soon. This is hardly the solution as AMD enhances the possibility of a nuclear attack. Additionally, China is likely to resist an AMD system in its neighbourhood.

The UN Security Council has “strongly” condemned the North Korean missile test. New sanctions are expected to be imposed on it. But is this the best way to check Pyongyang. China, Pyongyang’s closest ally, has rightly pointed out that any resolution should result in reducing tension and contribute to denuclearisation, a negotiated solution, and peace and stability. It is doubtful that tighter sanctions would achieve this. After all, existing sanctions did not work to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programmes.

The six-party talks on Korean denuclearisation, which were discontinued in 2009, must be resumed at the earliest. Pyongyang is often accused of obstructing this process but there are signs that it is keen to get back to the negotiating table. Its recent provocations seem to be aimed at pressuring the US, China and others to initiate the negotiation process. Especially in the context of China’s relations with South Korea improving in recent years – it had six summit meetings with Seoul compared to none with Pyongyang over the past three years – North Korea is reportedly seeking to regain lost diplomatic ground. This provides space for the diplomatic option.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry