North Korea Violates Agreement, Fails To Close Nuclear Plant
North Korea failed to shut down the Yongbyon nuclear plant by a deadline Saturday, violating the recently concluded six-party agreement aimed at removing the rogue nation from its status as the newest member of the nuclear nations club.
That inaction by North Korea served to buttress warnings of military analysts and Asia experts who say that the isolated nation has broken agreements before and will do so now, so that the only safe course forward for the United States is to continue developing a multi-layered ballistic missile defense (BMD) shield.
Not only has North Korea confessed to developing and producing nuclear weapons, which it had promised more than a decade ago not to do, but the peninsular regime also has developed missiles of various ranges.
It is developing one, the Taepo Dong 2, which is thought capable of striking targets in the United States. Shorter-range missiles already developed are capable of striking U.S. allies such as South Korea and Japan.
The U.S. BMD system went on alert when North Korea fired off a series of missiles in July. As well, North Korea tested a nuclear bomb underground in October.
The North Korean failure to meet the weekend deadline drew downbeat responses from U.S. and other developed-nations officials, who managed only to hope that perhaps with more time North Korea will comply and shut down the reactor.
But that is a vain hope, according to several experts who spoke at a recent American Enterprise Institute panel forum. Their predictions that North Korea wouldn’t meet the deadline Saturday were proven right.
“Do you believe that North Korea will ever voluntarily give up its nuclear weapons program?” John R. Bolton, a senior AEI fellow, asked rhetorically. He earlier was ambassador to the United Nations, and before that held various State Department posts.
“If you believe as I do that North Korea will never voluntarily give up its” nuclear weapons program, then negotiations producing a deal seeming to guarantee that result are both “futile and dangerous.”
Bolton said the political reality here is that the North Korean regime of leader Kim Jong Il can’t truly give up its nuclear arms, because their presence helps to undergird his power over the people.
“Agreement by North Korea to give up nuclear weapons is [tantamount to] a suicide note for that regime,” Bolton stated.
Another skeptic is Nicholas Eberstadt, who holds the Henry Wendt chair in political economy at AEI.
“Can we plausibly imagine … the (North Korean) government … will enter into voluntary negotiations to scrap permanently” its nuclear program? Eberstadt asked.
Hardly, he indicated.
Rather, North Korea has been pursuing nuclear capability for decades, since the 1960s, and “Kim Jong Il has been in charge of the nuclear program since the 1980s,” Eberstadt said.
Despite all the pressures applied by other nations to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear-weapons ambitions, it has endured, Eberstadt said.
Yet another criticism of the isolated nation came from Dan Blumenthal, an AEI resident fellow. He previously served in the Pentagon where he was senior director for China, Taiwan and Mongolia in the office of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
“I do have faith that the North Koreans will violate the agreement,” Blumenthal said.