A View From Across The Pond

Untitled document

Con Coughlin in the Telegraph notes that the West has woken up to late to the danger of rogue states with nuclear weapons. He places the blame on the West and its endless bickering over how to deal with these threats to the whole world.

But it was not until yesterday, and the revelation that North Korea's decidedly eccentric president Kim Jong-il had joined the elite club of nuclear-armed powers, that anything like a broad consensus has emerged to confront arguably the world's most unstable dictatorship.

This, after all, is a country where the regime's leadership is prepared to let a tenth of the nation's 22 million people starve to death while they amuse themselves by arranging trips to visit Disneyland.

Not that "the Dear Leader", as Kim likes to be known, would himself look that out of place rubbing shoulders with the likes of Mickey Mouse and Pluto. With his Elvis hairstyle, oversized glasses and khaki pyjama suit, he looks more like an escapee from a North Korean lunatic asylum than a serving head of state.

It is said the reason he wears platform shoes and styles his hair with an exotic quiff is so that, on his rare public appearances, he appears taller than his 5ft 3in. The few diplomats who have had the pleasure of meeting him in person portray him as a vain, paranoid, cognac-guzzling hypochondriac. And to cap it all, Asia's very own Dr Strangelove now has a nuclear weapon at his disposal.

In these truly terrifying circumstances, the leaders of the world's major powers are to be applauded for agreeing that it is in no one's interests to allow such a man and such a regime to have access to such a devastating arsenal. The problem is that they have woken up too late to the threat posed by rogue states that seek to arm themselves with nuclear weapons.

In the four years since Mr Bush's "axis of evil" speech, the constant bickering over how to handle rogue regimes has enabled the regimes themselves to proceed apace with their diabolical schemes. Apart from yesterday's test-firing of a nuclear warhead, the North Koreans have successfully developed a range of ballistic missiles that can hit targets throughout Asia, as they proved when they test-fired a missile over Japan.

The North Koreans have also made a significant contribution to the cause of nuclear weapons proliferation. Apart from providing the Iranians with versions of their Nodong ballistic missile, North Korean scientists have been assisting the Iranians with the development of their own nuclear military programme.

The Iranians, meanwhile, have taken advantage of international divisions over that programme to make significant technological progress, to the extent that most Western intelligence agencies believe the Iranians now have the technology to enrich uranium to weapons grade.

If the West has truly woken up, then maybe, just maybe, we can start dealing with this issue. But endless negotiation will not fix the problem. North Korea must be sanctioned – and sanctioned very strictly. Iran must be shown that defying the world will not bring rewards.

This entry was posted in North Korea. Bookmark the permalink.