Monday, October 10, 2005

Nuclear Tae Kwon Do

North Korea, a country with an area of 47,000 square miles and a population of 23 million, merits attention given its nuclear program. It pursued an active weapons program until 1994 when it undertook to freeze all nuclear-related activities under the "Agreed Framework" negotiated with the Clinton administration. In 2002, the Bush administration accused North Korea of violating its earlier international commitments. Pyongyang retaliated in dramatic fashion by restarting its nuclear reactor, expelling UN monitors and pulling out of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in December, 2002.

North Korea appears to have a dual track of producing weapons grade plutonium and enriching uranium. The United States has threatened to refer Pyongyang's nuclear program to the UN Security Council. While China is likely to veto such a move, it remains concerned that a Korean nuclear program could lead to the renewed militarization of Japan. India expressed concern that Pakistan had provided uranium enrichment technology to North Korea in exchange for the liquid fuelled Ghauri/Nodong ballistic missiles. This impacts on the security of India.

Many view North Korea's threat to restart it nuclear program as a ploy to leverage greater levels of American economic aid and energy assistance. This explains the demands for light water nuclear reactors. A cash-stripped economy plagued with recurrent famine due to the failure of socialist agriculture, Pyongyang could easily trade nuclear technology with Middle Eastern fundamentalist outfits in exchange for hard cash. Some estimate that at least 2 million people had died in that country since 1996 due to acute food shortages. An article by Harsh Pant provides additional analysis.

2 comments:

Sukhinder said...

An informative blog, Jaffna. Do you think that China uses North Korea as a front to transfer defense technology to third parties in order to avoid direct international condemnation? The story of the Ghauri missile makes me think so.

Jaffna said...

Sukhinder

An apt parallel indeed. The Druze diverted from mainstream Islam in the 11th century. The Sikhs, similarly assumed a distinctiveness vis-a-vis the surrounding Hindu countryside from the 16th century onwards, a process that was perhaps completed only in the late 1900s, if at all.

And yet, I view the Guru Grant Saheb as a text that reflects a profound Hindu devotionalism. Sindhi Hindus view it as scripture and so do I.

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