Kim is at it again because his previous provocations have typically been rewarded. The most famous example is the 1994 Agreed Framework in which the Clinton Administration responded to Kim's nuclear threats by offering aid and the promise of nuclear energy plants. That deal collapsed in 2002 when Kim repudiated it, announced a secret nuclear program and kicked out U.N. inspectors.
Or consider what happened the last time Kim launched a missile, sending the Taepodong-1 over Japan in 1998. The Clinton Administration went back to the negotiating table and came close to concluding a missile version of the 1994 nuclear agreement. As part of that deal--negotiated by then-State Department Counsellor Wendy Sherman--the U.S. would launch North Korean satellites in return for the North's pledge to stop developing long-range missiles.
Given Pyongyang's abysmal record at keeping its promises, the more likely outcome would have been the theft of U.S. technology and the strengthening of the North's missile program. As late as mid-December 2000 White House sources were even suggesting that President Clinton might visit Pyongyang to conclude the deal. Negotiations stopped only when the Clinton Administration's time expired.
This time Kim has tried to raise the stakes by launching a Taepodong-2, which has the range to reach the Western U.S. The fact that the missile exploded less than a minute after launch is reassuring, especially if you live in Seattle. But Kim still hopes this launch will attract even greater accommodation, and some in the U.S. and South Korea may be ready to play along.
The last thing the U.S. should do is reward North Korea's missile provocation with direct talks. Yet before yesterday's missile tests, that is exactly what Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard Lugar advised. Former Clinton officials Ashton Carter and William Perry have accused President Bush of ignoring diplomatic options with Pyongyang, even as they also propose a pre-emptive military strike. But what are the six-party talks with the North if not multilateral diplomacy?...
North Korea's missile tests also point up the need for improved missile defenses, both regionally and in the U.S. South Korea announced last week the purchase of upgraded Patriot missiles from Germany. Japan is working closely with Washington to improve its fledgling missile defenses, including an agreement last week to allow the Pentagon to deploy Patriots at a U.S. base in Okinawa.
But nothing the U.S. and Japan might do is likely to accomplish much if China and South Korea refuse to pressure the North to abandon its nuclear program. This is what happens when a non-transparent, authoritarian regime is appeased long enough for it to acquire nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. The mullahs in Tehran have already absorbed that lesson. Iran, and other states that are considering going nuclear, will be closely watching how the world responds to Kim Jong Il's latest provocation.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Strategic Shakedown: Pyongyang's Nuclear Gamble
Last Friday I blogged about Ashton Carter and William Perry's proposal for a preventive attack on North Korea's nuclear missile facilities. It's too late for that now for this current crisis, as Pyongyang went ahead and test-fired a series of various-range missiles on Wednesday. For David Sanger's New York Times story on the outlook for the diplomatic endgame, check here. For an analysis of the implications of a North Korean missile test on the U.S. Pacific theater, check this Heritage Foundation research memo. Finally, check out yesterday's Wall Street Journal editorial on Kim Jong Il's lastest opportunistic provcation: Here's some flavor:
Posted by Donald Douglas at 8:15 AM