North Korea has once again pushed its self into the worlds headlines with the testing of a second nuclear device on Monday morning followed my the test launching of 5 short range missiles. As is common the guessing game is in full throttle as to what North Korea really wants if anything.
First the nuclear test: North Korea might be trying to achieve what India and Pakistan did when they first tested nuclear devices in 1998. Recognition by the worlds governments as independent nuclear powers. First India at that time and continuing to this today is a rising world economic power. Pakistan has since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has been at the forefront in the worlds fight against terrorism. So what can North Korea offer the world? No natural resources, a collapsed economy and little else.
Sanctions: There are sanctions in place voted on by the United Nations plus additional ones from Japan and South Korea that deal with remittances, travel, trade, humanitarian aid and fuel oil deliveries. China the North’s closer ally has worked around or ignored these sanctions out of fear. Fear that if economic aid was cut off North Korea would collapse leading to a mass influx of refugees across the boarder into China which the Chinese government believes would lead to instability which it would be unable to control. South Korea would also suffer from a sudden collapse.
North South relations: Over the previous ten years the governments of Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun worked to engage the North under the Sunshine Policy. With the election of Lee Moon-bak a conservative politician who once worked as an executive for Hyundai all that changed. Believing that North Korea would never adhere to any agreements unless there were consequences for violations. Thus Lee’s government reduced humanitarian aid along with fuel oil shipments causing strained relations which led to the expulsion of South Korean workers from the Kaesong industrial zone after the government accused a worker of spying.
Finally there is the question of succession: Its believed that last August Kim Jong-il suffered a stroke adding to already existing medical problems. So the question of succession became a hot topic. Who would succeed Kim Jong-il is eldest son who once tried to enter Japan on a fake Jamaican passport for the sole purpose of going to Tokyo Disneyland. Perhaps his 26 year old son Kim Jong-un who was recently given a minor post on North Korea’s Defense Council.
So what is the reason behind North Korea’s testing of a nuclear device your guess is as good as anyone else’s as reading the tea leaves of reclusive North Korea are almost impossible. Many expect North Korea is looking for recognition from the United States giving them, in their minds equal status among the worlds nations.