What's up with North Korea

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Well, there's been a series of articles about North Korea's missile and nuclear tests and from what I gather, this is the latest:

North Korea: US warns regime will 'pay a price' for aggression

Where do you think this is leading? In particular, for those of you more knowledgeable on global political issues, what will the effect of a war between North and South Korea have on the world? Who will jump in and whose side will they take? Do you think Kim Jong-il will deploy a nuclear weapon against a perceived adversary?
 

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  • #2
CRGreathouse
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what will the effect of a war between North and South Korea have on the world?
I don't think such a war is likely.

Who will jump in and whose side will they take?
The obvious answer would be that the US and Japan would support South Korea and Russia, China, and Iran may support the North. But the particulars of the conflict would probably determine this more than anything else. An unprovoked act of aggression by the North would not be well-received by its allies. (A show of strength, on the other hand, would be welcomed by China and Iran, even if China wouldn't admit to it.)

Do you think Kim Jong-il will deploy a nuclear weapon against a perceived adversary?
No. First, his nuclear technology is nascent: it needs much more development. Second, his conventional weapons are considerably more powerful at this point. Third, the threat of using nuclear weapons is stronger when you haven't used them before; he won't want to throw away that advantage. Fourth, if he hasn't used them he's more able to negotiate in the five-party talks. (Not that he'll be bound by them -- just that negotiating itself is an advantage, and can be used to blunt international moves against him.)

Yes, in the final moment, he'd use nukes, But he'd have to be backed very far into a corner first. He may come off as bizarre, but he's actually a rather rational individual (in a certain sense).
 
  • #3
cristo
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I don't think such a war is likely.
I wouldn't be so sure: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/8069457.stm
North Korea has warned of a military response after South Korea joined an anti-proliferation exercise which could allow it to search the North's ships.

The North said it is no longer bound by the armistice which ended the Korean War in 1953.
Either way, some sort of sanctions need to be put in place, and not just stating of "strong condemnation" from the security council and its members.
 
  • #4
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The obvious answer would be that the US and Japan would support South Korea and Russia, China, and Iran may support the North. But the particulars of the conflict would probably determine this more than anything else. An unprovoked act of aggression by the North would not be well-received by its allies. (A show of strength, on the other hand, would be welcomed by China and Iran, even if China wouldn't admit to it.)
It seems as if Russia and China may actually be against North Korea's actions. Or do you think that's only making the "right" noises?

http://www.radionetherlands.nl/news/international/6313628/China-and-Russia-criticise-North-Korea [Broken]

(I just grabbed the first news link I could find)
 
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  • #5
CRGreathouse
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So far, I haven't seen anything suggesting war. Much posturing, little actual preparation.

If I was to go to war I'd want as much surprise as I could muster, especially if I were a small country like the DPRK. (Why attack when your enemy is in a state of heightened alert?)

But it would be sensible to speak of war if you (1) hoped for concessions on backing down (doesn't seem likely this time around, though it's worked well in the past), or (2) wanted to get your Xs by threat of force rather than force (which will be the case if the PSI plans are scrapped).

But if anyone has information to the contrary I'd be interested.

It seems as if Russia and China may actually be against North Korea's actions. Or do you think that's only making the "right" noises?
I think Russia is (probably) against it. China has a history of 'making the "right" noises', but it also may be against it for real. A good test will be if a UN measure with teeth is proposed: if not proposed, it's probably because China would have vetoed it; and of course if it's proposed and vetoed we know just as much.
 
  • #6
epenguin
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If you follow that BBC link of cristo and look at the associated articles you will find that the world has very little leverage on N Korea. Only China has some and it is explained why it has always been reluctant to use even that.

The only way I can see to induce China to do more would be for Japan to make noises about getting a bomb itself. Whether that leads anywhere good is hard to see.

The big problem I see is it all weakens the antibodies against nuclear proliferation all over, also in the M.E.

If we are lucky the reason for all this is (it is speculated) a problem of the succession to the Kim dynasty. Let us hope that will soon be resolved:wink:, things can only get better but we need them to be resolved soon.
 
  • #7
neu
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Send them some food, let them trade in euros, and chill out. Who are they going to bomb?
 
  • #8
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So far, I haven't seen anything suggesting war. Much posturing, little actual preparation.

...

But it would be sensible to speak of war if you (1) hoped for concessions on backing down (doesn't seem likely this time around, though it's worked well in the past), or (2) wanted to get your Xs by threat of force rather than force (which will be the case if the PSI plans are scrapped).
The latest seems to agree with your verdict:

Telegraph.co.uk said:
Cheong Seong-Chang of the Sejong Institute think-tank said that North Korea's statement would inevitably raise cross-border tension further and a naval clash is highly possible off the west coast.

Under one scenario outlined by Mr Cheong, one of the North's warships might violate the sea border or the North could test-fire more short-range missiles. "However, the two Koreas will exercise self-restraint as they do not want a full-scale military conflict," he said...

....While analysts agree a full-scale military confrontation is in neither side's game-plan, nonetheless a serious "war of nerves" - as one Russian official described it - is now under way.

Analysis: how seriously should we take North Korea's threats?
 
  • #9
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He lives in his own world where everyone is afraid of him and does every tiny thing he orders, every second of the day. There is a bit of that which dangles on his perspective of the nations around him. He may very well be oblivious to exactly what actual weight his threats carry. He has discovered that he can build and test nuclear weapons, and draw no real change to his circumstances. How much farther can he push the line?
 
  • #10
CRGreathouse
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The big problem I see is it all weakens the antibodies against nuclear proliferation all over, also in the M.E.
It's more than just that, though -- they're actively trading nuclear technologies with the Iranians. Mostly DPRK => Iran, but also some older Russian missile tech to North Korea, I think.
 
  • #11
CRGreathouse
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If we are lucky the reason for all this is (it is speculated) a problem of the succession to the Kim dynasty. Let us hope that will soon be resolved:wink:, things can only get better but we need them to be resolved soon.
That's been going on for some years now. Do you remember the stories (~5 years ago) about changing the portraits of Kim Jong-Il and Kim Il-Sung for only the latter? It's sort of an extension of the younger Kim's never taking the title of President.
 
  • #12
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It's more than just that, though -- they're actively trading nuclear technologies with the Iranians. Mostly DPRK => Iran, but also some older Russian missile tech to North Korea, I think.
Speaking of Iran, they just tested a new rocket at nearly the same time NK did:

Iran says the missiles have a range of almost 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles). If that is true, the missile brings Moscow, Russia, Athens, Greece, and southern Italy within striking distance from Iran...
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/05/20/iran.missile.test/index.html
 
  • #13
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North Korea will now have to protect its ships that trade with countries like Iran, Syria etc. with heavily armed escorts. If the US, South Korea or other countries insist on doing inspections, then they will have to attack first.

The more we pressure North Korea using sanctions (e.g. if China were to take stroing measures), the more missiles North Korea needs to sell, so the chances of a military confrontation will then only increase.

The solution to the problem is therefore for the US to recognize not only that imposing sanctions does not work, but that it actually has worsened the situation. Lifting sanctions and dealing with North Korea as any other country will almost immediately resolve the problem.
 
  • #14
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The solution to the problem is therefore for the US to recognize not only that imposing sanctions does not work, but that it actually has worsened the situation. Lifting sanctions and dealing with North Korea as any other country will almost immediately resolve the problem.
Or just go and attack them before they harm others or themselves.
 
  • #15
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Or just go and attack them before they harm others or themselves.
Yes, but then the devastating war will start that we want to avoid. After we win, we'll have to deal with taking care of the entire North Korean population, which will be a big nightmare for South Korea. Since China will almost surely not have approved of the war, China won't be prepared to share in this burden.

In the early phase of the war, the North Koreans could have the upper hand. They have artillery inside a mountain overlooking Seoul. The entire city can be flattened within hours. And we don't know if a suicidal North Korea will fire radioactive grenades into Seoul making the area uninhabitable for a few centuries.

To take out the artillery fast enough to prevent Seoul from being damaged too much, would require the use of (tactical) nuclear weapons to destroy the mountain.

So, you could move very fast from an attempt to inspect a North Korean ship that is resisted, leading to fighting which then escalates into a nuclear war. It could all happen within an hour.
 
  • #16
epenguin
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Lifting sanctions and dealing with North Korea as any other country will almost immediately resolve the problem.
It has all been tried before, if such a formula would bring them round they would have come round years ago. And I believe Obama has in his short Presidency sent several envoys to NK without result.
 
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  • #17
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Yes, but then the devastating war will start that we want to avoid. After we win, we'll have to deal with taking care of the entire North Korean population, which will be a big nightmare for South Korea. Since China will almost surely not have approved of the war, China won't be prepared to share in this burden.

In the early phase of the war, the North Koreans could have the upper hand. They have artillery inside a mountain overlooking Seoul. The entire city can be flattened within hours. And we don't know if a suicidal North Korea will fire radioactive grenades into Seoul making the area uninhabitable for a few centuries.

To take out the artillery fast enough to prevent Seoul from being damaged too much, would require the use of (tactical) nuclear weapons to destroy the mountain.

So, you could move very fast from an attempt to inspect a North Korean ship that is resisted, leading to fighting which then escalates into a nuclear war. It could all happen within an hour.
In that case, I assumed that war is inevitable (if not now, tomorrow). But I see from the above link analysis that neither side is looking for it. If my assumption is correct, I am sure that it would be better to attack NA as soon as possible.
(I believe going on war with NA was discussed in one previous thread too.)
 
  • #18
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Speaking of Iran, they just tested a new rocket at nearly the same time NK did:

Iran says the missiles have a range of almost 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles). If that is true, the missile brings Moscow, Russia, Athens, Greece, and southern Italy within striking distance from Iran, according to Jane's, which provides information on defense issues.
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/05/20/iran.missile.test/index.html
Perhaps someone should inform CNN that Athens is in Greece and Moscow is in Russia and that they shouldn't be listed as separate entities! :rolleyes:
 
  • #19
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If this happens then Russia will sit this one out. China will provide passive assistance since so much of the government assets are tied up in the dollar. If China switches positions then they will dump gold on the market and devalue the dollar.
 
  • #20
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Perhaps someone should inform CNN that Athens is in Greece and Moscow is in Russia and that they shouldn't be listed as separate entities! :rolleyes:
Perhaps you should not consider them as separate entities, such as in Paris, Texas.
 
  • #21
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Perhaps you should not consider them as separate entities, such as in Paris, Texas.
So are you implying that in the context of this article, I should consider them as "Athens (Georgia, Ohio or wherever), Greece, Moscow (Idaho), Russia" ???
 
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  • #22
berkeman
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Perhaps someone should inform CNN that Athens is in Greece and Moscow is in Russia and that they shouldn't be listed as separate entities! :rolleyes:
Agreed. I didn't check if that was a direct quote. But if it is, it's pretty bad for the journalistists involved. Ouch.
 
  • #23
Hurkyl
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Before y'all criticize the journalist, how would you have written it? :tongue:

You could use semicolons, but that isn't exactly common knowledge:
... brings Moscow, Russia; Athens, Greece; and southern Italy ...​
 
  • #24
cristo
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You could use semicolons, but that isn't exactly common knowledge:
A journalist should have that sort of knowledge, though! We were taught in primary school that semi colons should be used either to separate independent clauses, or separate items in long lists.

Still, I would have written it as "Athens (Greece), Moscow (Russia) and Southern Italy..."
 
  • #25
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Agreed. I didn't check if that was a direct quote. But if it is, it's pretty bad for the journalistists involved. Ouch.
That was an exact "quote/unquote" from the article.

Before y'all criticize the journalist, how would you have written it? :tongue:[/indent]
I'm with cristo on this one. :wink:

Also, one can throw yet another angle into this equation. The norm is that the sole use of the name (without the specification) implies the original city, whereas the distinction should be made when referring to cities who "inherited" these names.

However, I'm willing to make an exception here since CNN is an American news agency and we all know how geographically-challenged some Americans are! :biggrin:

(Note the use of the qualifier: "some" Americans :tongue: )
 

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