Every few months or so, North Korea will make a statement to try to antagonize the United States. In a news release today, North Korea has claimed that they have turned the plutonium from 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods into nuclear weapons “to serve as a deterrent against increasing U.S. nuclear threats and to prevent a nuclear war in northeast Asia.”
Over the last few months, they have been claiming that they are getting closer to having nuclear weapons. North Korea is talking big to try to scare the US into bribing them to give up their nuclear weapons. They are taking a big gamble. They could be provoking a war with the United States, but I don’t believe this is what they want. They don’t want any war. I would even be inclined to believe they are exaggerating their nuclear weapons claims to try to get the United States to intervene. All along they have wanted one on one talk with the United States, because they know that there is a benefit to the United States as well as North Korea if the United States intervenes and resolves the nuclear issue. The United States will get the publicity of being the country that led the Korean peninsula to peace without resorting to war. This would make up for some of the credibility lost when the US invaded Iraq in 2003, and might even make people forget the Korean war that took place over 50 years ago. It would benefit North Korea in that they will receive some perks in exchange for dismantling their nuclear weapon program, such as the possibility of financial aid, food, lifted sanctions, etc. North Korea currently depends on the international community to feed their country. Their army size is around 1 million people, and their Military expenditures as a percent of their GDP is 22.9% (2003). (According to the CIA World Factbook). Compare that to a peaceful nation like Canada, where our Military expenditures/GDP is 1.1% (2003) or even compare to the USA where it’s only 3.3% (Although I’m sure that has increased slightly since 2003). So North Korea is pushing their army to its limit, and I believe this is all part of the plot to scare countries into giving them perks, but also deter them from invading. If the United States decided to invade North Korea, it would be a much tougher battle than they have seen in Iraq, and I don’t know if the Americans or South Koreans want to take on this much risk and responsibility unless it’s absolutely necessary.
I predict that when the Iraq war is under better control, and the United States has more time on its hands, you will see them get more involved in this crisis. The United States can’t talk very tough right now because they are utilizing a large chunk of their military in Iraq, so it would be difficult to bargain with North Korea at this point. But when they do have more time and more resources, you’ll see the USA trying to engage a 6-way conversation between N. Korea, S. Korea, China, Russia, Japan and themselves to collectively resolve this crisis, and I predict you will see N. Korea getting most of their ‘asks’, dismantling their weapons, and of course you will hear about the Americans as the leader of the peace conversations. On the other hand, if things turn ugly and North Korea doesn’t get what they want, let’s just hope they talk tough, but don’t act as tough, because they could potentially start a major crisis or a major war, and it would be very ugly.