Twenty-one year old dictator seems unprepared to run country
by Liz O’Malley
In an attempt to flex the prowess of a fledgling nuclear program and establish itself as Public Enemy #1, North Korea has defied UN sanctions against nuclear proliferation for a third time.
On February 12, the same day President Obama gave his State of the Union Address, an enormous crowd of DPRK soldiers and civilians stood in eerily straight lines to ‘celebrate’ the detonation of a nuclear weapon. Though South Korean planes were deployed to collect traces of nuclear isotopes in the air and were met with negative results, the situation itself has radiated a provocative gloom upon international relations.
The United States provided North Korea with approximately 1.3 billion dollars in foreign aid (around 90% of which went towards food and energy programs) from 1995 to 2009. This aid was promptly cut to next to nothing after Kim Jong Il ignored the demands of the international community and moved forward with nuclear testing. Because of tensions caused by impotent promises of aid in exchange for denuclearization, North Korea’s National Defense Commission refers to the U.S. as “the sworn enemy of the Korean people.”
In response to the test, President Obama stated, “The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community.” North Korea’s commitment to performing nuclear experiments has also been a source of concern for the United States on account of the DPRK’s chummy relations with Iran. Though condemnation and threats of placing more sanctions have been echoed by many nations, definitive action has yet to be taken to punish the country for their flagrant disregard of the UN Security Council. Furthermore, even if further sanctions were to be placed, it is highly unlikely that it would deter the highly isolationist and erratic DPRK from continuing its tests.
North Korea’s testing last week is just another piece of evidence that its nuclear incentive trumps the well-being of a periodically starving populace. Much like his predecessor, Kim Jong Un refuses to bow to international pressure to irreversibly halt its nuclear expansion, severing ties with countries that had previously provided massive foreign aid. Typified by its infantile refusal to act with diplomatic professionalism and an insatiable hunger for nuclear notoriety, it seems hardly likely North Korea will do anything but continue to expand its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, placing several U.S. allies in jeopardy.
South Korea is highly concerned that the testing threatens peace along the Korean peninsula. Japan, especially sensitive to the issue of nuclear technology in light of the recent Fukushima disaster, likewise stands in staunch opposition to North Korea’s nuclear proliferation. Even China, a DPRK ally, is opposed to the country’s increasing nuclear capabilities, acknowledging that the testing poses a serious threat to peace in Northeast Asia. Though they continue to provide aid to North Korea, this is largely to prevent a massive wave of Korean refugees from swelling across the border in flight of poverty.
Frankly, continued DPRK nuclear testing comes as no surprise to the rest of the world. Though we may not know exactly what happens beyond its borders, the third round of nuclear testing proves that North Korea is not likely to let up anytime soon.