North Korea’s Nuclear Testing Draws International Concern
by Daphne Chow on Friday, March 8th, 2013
On Tuesday, February 12, 2013, North Korea conducted its third and most successful nuclear test, on the very same day President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address thousands of miles away in Washington, D.C. Choosing this day, whether intentionally or not, sent a clear message to America. If it has a nuclear weapon in its possession, North Korea will have a powerful threat to use against its enemies, a capability America has had for years. Only a year into North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s reign, this nuclear test could be a demonstration to the world that he is not someone to meddle with. Immediately following the announcement of the test, the United Nations Security Council met for an emergency session in which delegates unanimously condemned North Korea. As of yet, the council has not decided upon a resolution to address this issue. But for North Korea to truly adhere to the United Nations Security Council’s demands, China must support the council’s decisions.
The Chinese Communist Party has historically been allied with the North Korean Communist Party. Following the nuclear test, China’s state-run news source, Xinhua, blamed the United States and other countries for North Korea’s aggression, arguing that outside pressure led to North Korea’s need to defend itself with nuclear weapons , according to the New York Times. Its response suggests that China will once again side with North Korea. However, as reported by the Times, China has warned North Korea not to take “provocative actions” concerning nuclear activity. Furthermore, North Korea’s disobedience may cause the Chinese to feel their regional authority is being threatened and could damage the relationship between the two countries. Hopefully, China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, will realize the necessity of stricter safety precautions and bring China away from its alliance with North Korea, as the key to forcing North Korea into obeying more regulations is a united front. If China, North Korea’s biggest ally, cooperates and threatens to reduce its enormous amount of economic and military aid, North Korea will be forced to adhere to the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions.
Even though this test has been North Korea’s most successful yet, they are still far from Western nuclear standards. North Korea’s previous bomb, tested in 2009, was the equivalent of 6 kilotons of TNT, and the newest one is not much more powerful; in comparison, “the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, were about 13 kilotons and 20 kilotons, respectively” according to the Christian Science Monitor. North Korea began its nuclear program in 1989 and has taken over twenty years to produce a product only half as effective as America’s was in the 1940s. Because North Korea will not possess a truly effective atomic bomb for years, now is the time to make a sound resolution. The United Nations Security Council should take its time, not rush to quick action. Some of North Korea’s neighbors, China and Japan, recently transitioned between leaders and are now in a particularly vulnerable position. As the Monitor noted, these leaders want to gain a strong group of followers soon and avoid a global crisis, making them “more likely to resort to damage-control diplomacy.” But if they act too quickly, they might jeopardize everyone’s safety. If North Korea feels too threatened, it may act rashly and commit an act that endangers us all. After a recent United Nations summit, a North Korean government agency posted a YouTube video depicting the destruction of Washington and the end of the United States. This council must find a way to strike a balance between sufficiently satisfying North Korea and ensuring the world’s safety.
In addition, they should not place these sanctions on North Korea alone. With the threat of a nuclear bomb, other countries, especially North Korea’s neighbors, may respond by creating their own nuclear programs. In a recent United Nations meeting about disarmament, North Korea threatened the “final destruction” of South Korea. With such talk of violence, North Korea provokes other countries to retaliate. North Korea may not stop at threatening the lives of Americans and South Koreans. If other countries feel vulnerable, they may build up their own defense and possibly even preemptively strike. This event may snowball into another nuclear arms race unless the council takes action.
Whatever action the United Nations Security Council takes, it must be well-thought out. Reacting quickly but inefficiently may calm this crisis now, but any big issues that they fail to address could worsen the situation later. If China does involve itself in these affairs or the council places overly restrictive regulations that anger the North Koreans, this nuclear test may be the harbinger of a deterioration in world security.
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