North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts with scientists and technicians after the successful test-launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14. (Reuters.)
What an Independence Day gift to Donald Trump from Kim Jung-un. Alaska is now within North Korea’s reach. It is only a matter of time or a few more tests before Washington DC, New York City, and other parts of the United States become vulnerable to North Korea’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) attacks. The message in the crisis over North Korea is that nuclear weapons assure the holder protection from any invader.
North Korea’s July 4/5 missile test was a big success. It reportedly flew on a steep trajectory to a height of more than 2,500 km before landing some 900 km away in the Sea of Japan. If the trajectory is changed, experts believe it could travel more than 6,000 km.
Don’t blame North Korea alone for making this world a dangerous place to live in. Every nuclear power should be held responsible for pushing this planet to the brink of nuclear hell. More so the United States, for it heralded the nuclear weapons era. North Korea’s missile and nuclear path is paved with US policy blunders such as the squandering of opportunity after opportunity at the six-party talks from 2003 to 2009.
If only the United States had dismantled its atomic bomb programme soon after it successfully tested its first atomic bomb on July 16, 1945, in the New Mexico desert, we would not have seen a demented nuclear arms race. If the US had given leadership for an anti-nuclear weapon international treaty completed with provisions to slap tough punitive measures, we would not have seen the nuclear weapons proliferation that is threatening to make the Earth a planet for zombies.
It is not global nuclear disarmament, when those who call on North Korea to give up on its nuclear weapons and missile programmes are themselves armed with thousands of such weapons. The United Nations should play no role in partial nuclear disarmament, allowing only a handful of countries to possess nuclear weapons and bully those who do not have such weapons. It is total disarmament or no disarmament.
If one says that a maverick state like North Korea cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons, we ask: “Can we trust Donald Trump with nuclear weapons?” Uncertainties over Trump apart, the United States has etched its name in the dark depths of history as the world’s only nation to use killer atomic weapons on civilian targets.
North Korea has every reason to arm itself with nuclear weapons to protect it. It has apparently learnt a lesson from the United States’ invasion of Iraq. If only Iraq had nuclear weapons, war-hungry George W. Bush would not have invaded Iraq and more than one million Iraqis would not have died in a war driven by greed for oil and power. The Iraq invasion came about the same time North Korea was upping its ante by flaunting its nuclear programme. The United States, probably, knew then that North Korea had secretly developed nuclear weapons. Although Bush lumped North Korea together
with Iraq and Iran in a so-called ‘axis of evil’, he did not order an invasion of North Korea for two reasons: North Korea did not have oil and he feared the secretive state had by then developed nuclear weapons.
The then North Korean leader, Kim Jung-Il, the father of present North Korean leader Kim Jung-un, had long believed that for North Korea to survive and preserve its independence and sovereignty, it needed to equal its military power vis-à-vis its rivals. And nothing brings this power parity faster and more effectively than nuclear weapons.
Kim Jung-un once said that no nuclear state had been invaded in modern history and that “the greater the nuclear attack capability, the greater the strength of the deterrent against an invasion.”
“Our nuclear strength is a reliable war deterrent and a guarantee to protect our sovereignty,” he said.
Yes, nuclear powers do not go to war. This is why India and Pakistan have been holding their fire despite regular provocations by both nations. This was why Iran also revived its nuclear programme.
North Korea’s successful test of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Alaska and many US bases in Asia is indeed a game changer. What can Trump the political novice do, apart from tweeting rhetoric? “It won’t happen!” he famously tweeted two weeks before he was sworn in as President, in a response to reports that North Korea was in the final stages of developing a nuclear missile capable of reaching parts of the US.
And now when it really happened, he tweeted, “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”
Why China? Isn’t the United States capable of dealing with North Korea and the issue of nuclear disarmament? On Wednesday at a special UN Security Council meeting, US envoy Nikki Haley warned that her country could use its “considerable military forces” against North Korea, if diplomacy failed. Haven’t we heard this before?
In another lame response, the United States and South Korea carried out a large-scale military exercise which involved missile tests. And there were warnings about more sanctions. That the latest North Korean provocation came despite heaps of economic sanctions is not only an indication that sanctions do not work but also an indictment on failed US policies.
How can the US get China on board to check North Korea, when the Trump administration has been making China unhappy with a series of provocative moves? Washington has sold arms to Taiwan, deployed Thaad missiles in South Korea despite protests from China and even Russia, imposed sanctions on Chinese companies trading with North Korea and increased the US naval presence in the South China Sea in such a way as to challenge China’s sovereignty.
With the United States being reduced to mere onlooker as North Korea went on a path to achieve nuclear parity, the North Korean leader had the cheek to describe the ICBM test success as a “package of gifts for American bastards.” He has also blithely asked his nuclear scientists to “frequently send big and small ‘gift packages’ to the Yankees”.
The world is witnessing the dawn of an international order where many players will have the capability to destroy the planet. We are like passengers in a heavily booby-trapped boat with a dozen people carrying a wireless device each to detonate the explosives and kill us all.