Opinion: Nuclear-armed N. Korea a reality to be dealt with

North Korea will not give up its plan to become a nuclear power. If the world didn’t know that before it should now.

Pyongyang’s provocative decision this week to launch a missile over Japan was designed to make the point.

In effect, dictator Kim Jong Un was telling America and its allies that neither threats nor flattery will deter North Korea from developing and deploying nuclear weapons capable of hitting the continental U.S. and allies like Japan.

The unarmed missile launch came just weeks after both U.S. President Donald Trump and his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, praised North Korea for its restraint.

“I respect the fact that I believe he is starting to respect us,” Trump said of Kim then.

Tillerson hinted that continued good behaviour on the part of North Korea might lead to formal talks with Washington.

Kim’s rebuff seems to have scuppered that possibility, at least for now. “Talk is not the answer,” Trump tweeted Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in his own news release, Kim called the Japan gambit “a meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” the American Pacific island territory that houses a key U.S. airbase.

What he didn’t need to say is that the overflight was also a reminder of Japan’s vulnerability should the Korean crisis escalate into a full-scale shooting war.

Japan certainly understands how dangerous its position is. The missile launch set off air raid sirens and warnings to take shelter. Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, suspended regular programming for three hours.

Rising tensions with North Korea come at a time when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to promote constitutional changes that would make it easier for the country’s military to wage war. Monday’s overflight, while denounced strenuously by Abe, may turn out to be politically convenient for him.

Other leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, were equally strenuous in their condemnation of North Korea’s missile test. But there is very little they can do about it.

Economic sanctions against North Korea, while severe, are not working. China, North Korea’s chief sponsor and trading partner, is unwilling to do anything that might bring down the regime in Pyongyang.

A pre-emptive U.S. military strike against the North would lead to an unthinkable and bloody war in the Korean Peninsula.

The only remaining alternative is to accept the fact that North Korea has become a nuclear power — and then deal with it.

There are precedents. Pakistan, an unstable country in a dangerous neighbourhood, has nuclear weapons that it occasionally threatens to use against archrival and equally nuclear-armed India.

Yet the world interacts and trades with both countries. Canada, whose technology India illicitly used to build its first nuclear weapon, even sells uranium to that country.

Similarly, it may be possible for the world to coexist with a nuclear-armed North Korea.

Certainly, there would be repercussions. Already some South Koreans are arguing that they can no longer count on the U.S. deterrent and should instead develop their own nuclear capability to counter the North.

Even Japan, with its well-known allergy to atomic weapons, might find them more acceptable when faced with a nuclear-armed North.

In other words, accepting the fact of North Korea’s nuclear status is not the perfect solution. But short of reigniting the bloody 1950-53 Korean War, I am not sure that there are any others.

As well, once the nuclear question is out of the way, it may conceivably be possible to have the real and substantive peace talks between Washington, Seoul and Pyongyang that have been promised since the armistice of 1953 suspended fighting in that war.

Until this happens expect more of the same. North Korea will be outrageous. Washington, as it tries to figure out way to stop something that is virtually unstoppable, will be confused.

Thomas Walkom is a national affairs writer.

Just Posted

PHOTO: Black Friday shoppers hunt for bargains

Red Deer retailers participate in annual event

A long wait ends: Trudeau to apologize to excluded residential school students

GOOSE BAY, N.L. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Goose… Continue reading

Trump wants to end welfare as Bill Clinton knows it

WASHINGTON — Overhauling welfare was one of the defining goals of Bill… Continue reading

UK bookmaker suspends bets on when Prince Harry will marry

LONDON — A major London bookmaker has suspended betting on whether Prince… Continue reading

Black Friday enthusiasm wanes as some consumers, retailers shun practice

VANCOUVER — Chaotic images of people clamouring to be the first through… Continue reading

VIDEO: Red Deerians taste what the city has to offer

Red Deerians sampled some of the finest foods Central Alberta restaurants have… Continue reading

Volunteer with victim services in Red Deer

Learn more at info session on Nov. 27

Updated: Missing Sylvan Lake women found

Women were reported missing earlier this week

Liberals propose billions for affordable housing, including individual benefits

A Liberal government fond of promising help for those working hard to… Continue reading

Alberta Party sees growth in Central Alberta

Greg Clark addressed health care needs addressed in Red Deer

Ponoka council freezes Ponoka Fire Department spending

All discretionary spending frozen until full budget numbers are presented

WATCH: Ponoka’s Festival of Trees sees continued support

Three days of celebration and fundraising held at the Calnash Ag Event Centre

Creationist will speak at home-schooling convention in Red Deer

Ken Ham has debated Bill Nye on the Earth’s origins

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month