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 Friday, 10 January, 2003, 13:25 GMT
Viewpoint: N Korea follows Bush's lead
Thousands of North Koreans rally in Pyongyang. Banner reads:
"Bush advisers have accelerated N Korean nuclear crisis"

North Korea has decided to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, invoking its legal right to do so.

The move increases international tension and the risk of Japan reconsidering its position on nuclear weapons.

US President George W Bush
Mr Bush branded N Korea part of the "axis of evil" in 2002
But it is in line with the new approach to global security adopted by the Bush administration.

President George W Bush has either withdrawn from or expressed his opposition to implementing a number of key global arms control agreements.

These include:

  • the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty;
  • the Biological Weapons Convention;
  • the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty;
  • and the process of strategic arms reductions with Russia.
The treaty signed with Russia - the Sort Treaty - is a treaty without content and has no operative provisions.

At the same time as withdrawing from these treaties, the Bush administration initially withdrew from the political process with North Korea designed by former President Bill Clinton, and which had rolled back but not entirely removed North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes.

'Double standard'

Having been persuaded to resume the diplomatic process, Mr Bush decided in January 2002 to include North Korea in the "axis of evil", a decision that that country interpreted as tantamount to a declaration of war.

In these circumstances the North Korean regime would appear to have nothing to lose in building a weapon that the West has long declared as having a deterrent effect.

N Korean soldier eyes S Korean soldier on border
N Korea "appears to have nothing to lose"
It appears that North Korea obtained substantial help from Pakistan in its recent nuclear activities including assistance with a highly enriched uranium factory.

Pakistan's apparent help to Pyongyang came despite its vaunted alliance with the US in Washington's so-called war on terror.

The US was apparently unable to stop - or even learn about - Islamabad's rumoured support of North Korea's nuclear programme until it was too late.

Washington turned a blind eye to Pakistan's nuclear programme despite the close links between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and the oft repeated statements from leading Pakistani nuclear officials that they see their bomb as an Islamic weapon.

If there is any programme that might be associated with Osama Bin Laden then the Pakistani one has to top the list.

'Bombast'

President Bush and his advisers have pursued a policy of military options against proliferation and yet in reality even baulked at seizing a cargo of Scuds en route to Yemen.

President Bush's policy has swept away the achievements of decades in building global controls on the worst of weapons

In the meantime they have presided over the collapse of sanctions on India and Pakistan for their nuclear testing and have accelerated North Korea nuclear crisis.

By any objective measure their policy has been ineffective and has made the world situation more unstable.

Their own rhetoric and policies of pre-emptive strikes - perhaps with nuclear weapons - encourage other states to assume that they live in a world of nuclear anarchy and to act accordingly.

President Bush's policy has swept away the achievements of decades in building global controls on the worst of weapons and replaced an effective policy with nothing more than bombast.

Daniel Plesch is a senior research fellow at RUSI in London.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Caroline Gluck reports from Seoul
"Its latest move has dismayed those hoping for a diplomatic solution"
  Dan Plesch, London's Royal United Services Institute
"Pyongyang is entirely entitled to withdraw from the treaty"

Nuclear tensions

Inside North Korea

Divided peninsula

TALKING POINT
See also:

10 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
10 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
10 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
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