Nuclear North Korea. Positioning by China, Japan, Korea

In connection with North Korea’s testing of a nuclear bomb, three things I want to notice:

1) China’s reaction when the UN Security Council meets. Until now China’s attitude towards any proactive steps on UN’s behalf has been one of stalling or preventing. China has actively opposed any and all sanctions or even harsh language against countries like Iran or Sudan.

Now that China’s own ass and interests are on the line. Will they change their attitude? Will they agree to sanctions?

My guess is that they will agree to token sanctions. China still has to weigh the alternatives of a nuclear Korean peninsula and an actual collapse of the North Korean regime with the flood of refugees and economic chaos that will inevitably ensue. China can not, in fact, push too hard on North Korea.

A nuclear armed North Korea is, however, a blow to China’s prestige, security and credibility.

2) Japan. Will they or wont they work towards developing their own nuclear arsenal?

The smart money is on No. For one thing, Korea and China have talked the “threat” of “militaristic Japan” up to levels that are completely out of touch with reality by. Japan is very far from being either militaristic or a threat to anyone. This crisis poses an opportunity for Japan to show that fact to their neighbours. Just don’t count on them picking up on it.

With Koizumi now replaced by Shinzo Abe, maybe China and Korea will want to make reconciliatory or encouraging remarks to Japan over their policies. Who knows? Maybe the trees really do grow into heaven.

Spokesman of the Japanese Foreign Minister Tomohiko Taniguchi was on CNN an hour ago and clearly rejected the idea that Japan was looking to build a nuclear deterrent. The American nuclear umbrella did that job very well, he said. He also noted that if Japan should decide to change its mind, it would only take a matter of weeks to assemble a weapon.

I wonder if that remark isn’t going to keep popping up in the coming days. Just to let North Korea know that they have the resources.

3) South Korea has been as vague as usual.

“President Roh Moo-hyun said Monday that it will be difficult for South Korea to stick with its engagement policy towards North Korea”.

“We won’t give up pursuing peaceful and dialogue-based settlements. Unlike in the past, however, we may not continue to be patient about whatever North Korea does.”


So Korea is thinking about halting food aid in return for nothing but threats of annihilation?

Good job! You tell’em Roh. Don’t let that bad man get away with teasing you like that.