North Korea: Missed Opportunities for Two Decades


By: Kristia Cavere

Yesterday, June 25, to commemorate the day North Korean soldiers invaded their southern neighbor and began the Korean War, an anti-America rally was held in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. Approximately 100,000 citizens were present as the communist regime stated there would be a “fire shower of nuclear retaliation” for any attack led by the United States. A senior official stated before the crowd that North Korea’s “armed forces will deal an annihilating blow that is unpredictable and unavoidable, to any ‘sanctions’ or provocations by the U.S.”

This demonstration of North Korean belligerence came one day after President Obama imposed another year of economic sanctions on North Korea. He stated that North Korea’s production of nuclear weapons “continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat” to the America.

Although their first testing of a nuclear weapon was over two years ago during the W. Bush administration, it was during the Clinton years that North Korea began accumulating the equipment needed to build a nuclear device. And it was twenty years ago when our intelligence agencies discovered that North Korea was beginning a nuclear weapons program. During the course of the past two decades and three presidential administrations, the North Korean issue has been avoided. A brief history of the significant events leading up to the current crisis is below:

1989 – The C.I.A. revealed that North Korea was building a facility to create nuclear weapons.

1994, spring – North Korea forces U.N. weapons inspectors to leave and withdraws from a treaty (known as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) in which countries pledge not to transfer nuclear weapons to nations which do not have them. President Clinton asked the U.N. Security Council to consider sanctions, but a North Korean official stated that sanctions would force them to initiate war.

1994, October – President Clinton appoints Jimmy Carter as his envoy to North Korea, which signs an agreement with us. The terms are that North Korea stops their nuclear weapons program and let inspectors back, and the U.S. would provide North Korea with two nuclear reactors for electricity as well as a large supply of oil. Congress did not approve the finances for the two reactors, although we began supplying North Korea with oil.

2002, October – President Bush stated that we are formally withdrawing from the 1994 agreement, which was drawn up by Jimmy Carter. The U.S. stops giving oil to North Korea and encourages other countries to end their economic dealings with them.

2002, December – North Korea kicks out the weapons inspectors again and publically restarts their nuclear weapons agenda.

2003, April – North Korea’s foreign minister announces that they have a nuclear arsenal.

On May 25, 2009, North Korea tested a nuclear weapon. In response, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution condemning North Korea’s nuclear test and mandating that U.N. countries inspect North Korean ships thought to carry weapons or nuclear material.

North Korea then vowed that it will consider any interception of their ships as an act of war. Presently, an American destroyer is closely monitoring a North Korean freighter, the Kang Nam 1, which is suspected of having prohibited weapons on board. Intelligence analysts suspect artillery and missiles are on the Kang Nam 1, which is believed to have Myanmar as its destination.
A second situation is also being closely examined. Japanese intelligence stated that North Korea is planning to launch a Taepodong-2 towards Hawaii this July 4th. A Taepodong-2 is a long-range missile capable of reaching distances up to 4,000 miles. Hawaii is 4,500 miles from North Korea, but the close proximity is still very aggressive. On June 19th, the U.S. stated that it deployed anti-missile systems to Hawaii, which would enable us to shoot down the missile.

During the Clinton administration the North Korean population was starving and the government was on the verge of collapse, but U.N. humanitarian assistance was given with the intent to ease the suffering of the people. However, this humanitarian aid was diverted by the North Korean government and given to their military rather than the starving masses. Rather than allowing the regime to disintegrate under the pressure for democratic reform pushed by starving North Koreans, humanitarian aid enabled the continuation of this despotic regime as well as its ability to become a nuclear threat to the world.

The brutality of the North Korean dictatorship is known to include horrendous public execution, massive starvation among the populace, and harsh labor camps for any dissenters. In addition, North Korean assistance to Middle Eastern terrorists is well documented. They have exported missile technology to Iran and have given Syria the blueprints for building a nuclear reactor and weapons (the Syrian reactor was destroyed by Israel in September 2007).

We should do everything possible to ensure that the current North Korean regime is stopped. The U.S. must insist that there is no aid of any kind, from any country, given to North Korea, as any economic or humanitarian aid will be misused and will only prolong the totalitarianism. We must use our veto power in the Security Council to ensure that no U.N. assistance or humanitarian aid is given to North Korea. To take anything other than the most firm position with embolden them to become a greater threat to America and the world. If we do not want another hot war with North Korea, then we must start a war of attrition with them.

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