|You are in: Talking Point|
Monday, 17 February, 2003, 09:26 GMT
North Korea: Can tensions be eased?
North Korea has warned that it has the ability to strike American targets anywhere in the world if provoked.
Pyongyang was responding to the decision by the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to refer it to the UN Security Council for breaching nuclear non-proliferation agreements.
And amid mounting tension Japan warned that it would "use military force as a self-defence measure" if North Korea started to "resort to arms against Japan".
North Korea's latest threat comes a day after the head of the US Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet, warned that Pyongyang had a long-range missile capable of reaching the west coast of America.
What next in the standoff over North Korea? Would sanctions be justified? Is the US right to seek a diplomatic solution in North Korea and a military solution in Iraq? Should the US back off while tensions are so high?
Thank you for your comments; this debate is now closed. A selection of your e-mails is published below.
Sung J Kim, South Korea
Imagine North Korea continuing to pursue covertly a nuclear program, in the next five years. NK could be a threat to Europe, Asia and the United States. The world cannot allow a rogue state to build weapons of mass destruction and I think the world community is underestimating the capability that North Korea has right now to cause a greater problem in the future.
Kamel Darwish, Finland
I believe, in a wise decision, the IAEA has sent this issue for consideration to the UN Security Council. This body will presumably discuss this matter thoroughly. Let us wait and see.
N Korea is not a serious threat at the moment. Who in their right mind would fire one of their two or three nukes at a country that has thousands? If they fire one at the US or even the UK, afterwards the pictures of N Korea from orbit would look like a large moon crater. At least we know Saddam is a mad man, he thinks he can take on the US and win!
Y K, Korean in USA
The best thing for the US to do is to begin a long overdue complete withdrawal of all American forces from South Korea and let the two Koreas sort things out. The US military presence in South Korea only aggravates the situation. US tax dollars should be spent on the defence of the US, not protecting other countries or policing the world.
Roger, USA: I totally agree, but let's not stop there. I think we should pull out of Europe and the Middle East as well. Let someone else bare the burden for trying.
As awful and inhumane as the North Korean regime is, it has not invaded a neighbour in the last 50 years, has never used WMD, and is not in violation of a UN resolution under Chapter 7 (the chapter governing use of force). North Korea will make noise, but will not start a war guaranteeing violent annihilation. The regime is close to collapse. The best course of action, for everyone involved is to await their imminent internal implosion.
Once the unstable regime in Iraq is eliminated, the one in North Korea will realise that the United States must be taken seriously in its efforts to rid the world of despots that would hold the civilised world hostage with nuclear threats. The axis of evil is going down.
North Korea is militarily strong enough to deter and make Mr Bush and Mr Blair think twice before making a strike. Iraq is weaker. A frightening precedent, this shows that all countries have to be militarily strong enough to make the aggressor think twice.
North Korea is completely different to Iraq because they have already got some nuclear weapons. Any conflict in Iraq will be for the express purpose of preventing a similar situation arising there. The policy for North Korea is more likely to be one of containment due to their nuclear capability. The hope will then be that the regime will collapse after the cessation of foreign aid as they don't have oil to bail them out.
There are several distinct differences between North Korea and Iraq. Firstly, NK didn't invade another country 12 years ago and since then completely dishonour every UN resolution. Secondly, NK's actions are in breach of an agreement with the US, not the UN, which in my opinion does not make them an immediate priority as Iraq should be considered. Lastly, neither situation constitutes the need for war, but whatever happens with Iraq, NK will certainly get the attention it so desperately wants in the months that follow.
Aaron R, USA
If the U.S. increases its presence and North Korea did detonate a nuclear weapon at those forces (perhaps even with non conclusive evidence pointing to them) would the U.S. use its nuclear weapons in full force against the regime and its military? And would the U.N. support such a strike with such high civilian loses? - Or would it propose full scale invasion, the likes of which have not been seen since WWII?
At the end of the day, which do we value more? The lives of 100 of our citizens, or the lives of 1000 of someone else's "Third World" citizens?
Not an easy question, but one we answer everyday we let world hunger, disease and warlords continue throughout that part of the world while we live in comparative comfort.
Simply stop helping the country out. The aid is not getting through to the people and it is reasonable to assume that the money and resources needed to support their vast military program is coming at least in part from not having to buy the stuff that other countries give them. Until either someone invades them (which doesn't bear thinking about) or their own population turns on them, the North Korean leadership will continue to do exactly as it pleases. And that includes making nuclear toys to threaten everyone else with
The North Korean regime is not reasonable. However it's more unreasonable for America do anything to this country. I'm tired of listening to American talking like a final judge for whatever happens outside of America. If America is a police of this world, I can't trust the corrupt police. Don't interfere in others' business for your own sake.
Yes, it is true that North Korea's regime is unreasonable and unpredictable. But, we have to make it clear that the problem is the regime and very few people in power. Most of people living there are innocent and suffered from poverty and starvation. A war against North Korea will bring them to the worst situation and nobody will gain from such a war including South Korea.
The difference between this and Iraq is that North Korea did not lose a war and agree to disarm as a clause in the peace agreement. It agreed to stop its nuclear manufacturing as part of private agreement with the US that the US has been in breach of for years.
This is another example of the US bullying a smaller nation. Every escalation in North Korea is in response to aggressive posturing by the US. An "all out war" will only hurt the people of South Korea while the US remains safe thousands of miles away. Why not let North and South Korea try to resolve their own differences, as they have been doing in the past? Without interfering, and see what happens.
Tension could not be eased while US is sending its 52 and B1 bombers. North Korea has to be concerned and perhaps pre-emptied strike would be the proper course of action.
Alex Kim, South Korea
In a sense, North Korea is taking the same attitude as the US is over Iraq. Namely, it is talking about a pre-emptive strike against a potential aggressor. It seems the more the US becomes obsessed with policing the world, the more likely it is to provoke a serious conflict.
Colin Heyes, UK citizen in Germany
This is a militaristic, unstable regime which sells weapons to anybody who will pay. On top of that the general population lives in extreme poverty. This needs to be nipped in the bud, ideally by diplomatic means but with force if it doesn't work. As with Saddam, waiting is not an option.
Bush and Blair know well that it is one thing attacking a weak nation like Iraq and a completely different scenario when it comes to North Korea. Why is there is no talk of war when it comes to a country which kicks out UN inspectors and starts a nuclear facility? Should not Mr Bush and Mr Blair talk of weapons of mass destruction that North Korea actually possesses and do something about it rather than fight a country like Iraq under the perception that it has WMD?
06 Feb 03 | Asia-Pacific
19 Feb 03 | Asia-Pacific
Top Talking Point stories now:
Links to more Talking Point stories are at the foot of the page.
|E-mail this story to a friend|
Links to more Talking Point stories
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>> | To BBC World Service>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy