No One Trusts North Korea

A commentary by Andrei Lankov
2013-02-22
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Pyongyang residents watch a news report of North Korea's nuclear test, Feb. 12, 2013.
Yonhap News Agency

North Korea conducted a nuclear test on February 12th, calling it an answer to the U.N. Security Council’s resolution that condemned its recent rocket launch. North Korea insists that the U.N. resolution is a provocation against North Korea brought on by the "anti-North Korea policy" of the U.S.

The North suggests that if not for the U.S., there would be no criticisms of the North’s nuclear programs.

This claim however is far from the truth. In fact, the U.S. is not the only nation that supported the U.N. Security Council’s resolution criticizing the North’s development of nuclear weapons and its rocket launch. Even China, which is in severe rivalry with the U.S., approved the resolution.

Russia, which is also not on good terms with the U.S., also approved the resolution and strongly criticized the North.

Voices from all over the world are criticizing the North for carrying out its nuclear test. Why?

China and Russia are now criticizing the North for its nuclear test because of concerns over the spread of nuclear weapons. If North Korea develops nuclear weapons, there is a possibility that even more countries will scramble to develop nuclear weapons in the future.

The world order would become insecure because of this increase of nuclear powers around the world, and the small-scale armed clashes that erupt all over the world could easily become large-scale nuclear wars.

Another danger is that North Korea is a country that simply cannot be trusted. Almost no one in the world trusts the North Korean regime.

When North Korea began developing nuclear weapons, didn’t it lie and say that its nuclear program was being developed not for weapons but for nuclear power generation?

When it began its missile development, didn’t it lie again and say that the purpose of its program was to peacefully study the universe?

No guarantee

Neighboring countries now think there is a possibility the North Korean regime will sell its nuclear technology or materials to other countries or to terrorist organizations.

North Korea was once notorious for making and selling large quantities of narcotics. There is no other country in the world that has smuggled drugs abroad like North Korea has. Russia and China, like the U.S, are well aware of this fact.

In fact, the drugs that the North exported went more to Russia and China than to the U.S.

There is no guarantee that a country that has been recklessly selling drugs all over the world will not also sell nuclear technology and materials to other countries. And since neighboring countries know this, they cannot just stand by and watch the North develop nuclear programs.

North Korean leaders will of course ignore these criticisms because the development of nuclear weapons is important to the North Korean establishment for maintaining its regime, power, and privileges.

Not only the U.S. but China, Russia, and almost all other countries in the world will, however, put constant pressure on the North to give up its nuclear programs.

And this pressure will inevitably be a factor hindering the North’s economic development.

Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, is a Russian historian, North Korea expert, and regular RFA contributor.