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Saturday, July 24, 2010

North Korean Threats and Promises

I am not sure The Boston Globe got it right about North Korea in their Saturday Edition.  The headline is:
N. Korea warns of ‘nuclear deterrence’ to naval exercises
This was followed by:
North Korea said yesterday that it would counter US and South Korean joint naval exercises with “nuclear deterrence’’ after the Obama administration said the government in Pyongyang shouldn’t take any provocative steps.
Here is what Night Watch has to say:
North Korea-US-ROK:  "There will be a physical response against the military steps imposed by the United States," according to Ri Tong Il, spokesman for the North Korean delegation to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, Yonhap reported 23 July.  The military exercises are another expression of hostile policy against North Korea, he stated, adding that it is no longer the 19th century, which maintained the gunboat policy.  This is a new century and Asian countries are in need of peace and development, and Pyongyang is moving to that end, he said.

Comment:  An analysis by linguistics experts earlier this year found the term "physical response" is a particular usage by the North Koreans that refers to the science of physics in Korean. It is a poor translation, but there is no other comparably nuanced English idiom.

The significance is the North is promising -- not threatening -- a nuclear test or nuclear-related demonstration.  The North might be bluffing and might substitute a military provocation, but the language of the statement refers to physics.  The North needs more testing and one must be expected during every crisis.
I would tend to go with the Night Watch assessment, which suggests another nuclear test, justified in the minds of the North Koreans by US and South Korean military exercises.

I think The Boston Globe softballed this.

The more serious issue is what would be a US response.  I assert that what we have is the continued economic strangulation of North Korea, which works by hurting the North Korean People (we should not ignore that fact) and by keeping hard currency out of the hands of the North Korean Government.  This is a long, slow process.  However, because of Iran (and because of the Iranian threat to Israel and, implicitly, to Saudi Arabia and other nations) we will have to continue on this path and continue to make noises about North Korea.

Regards  —  Cliff

1 comment:

Craig H said...

so glad we've spent the last ten years destabilizing iraq and riling up afghanistan instead of respecting the danger posed by these guys