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Korea: the real threat
By Amitrajit Chatterjee

Throughout the past year, the Bush administration has bombarded the world with false claims and doctored evidence about the evil intentions of Saddam Hussein and the large cache of Weapons of Mass Destruction in his possession. When the public was informed that America had achieved victory in Iraq, there was still no evidence of WMD's. As serious questions are being raised about the underlying motives behind the attack, we should explore the real threat that is facing the United States and the rest of the world.

As the Bush administration was preparing to launch a pre-emptive and unprovoked attack on the sovereign nation of Iraq, North Korea was busy developing its own nuclear programme. In June 2001, North Korea warned the world that it was going to reconsider its moratorium on missile tests if the Bush administration didn't resume contacts aimed at normalizing relations.1 According to the State Department, North Korea was going on with its long-range missile development programs. In January 2002, Bush labeled it as part of "axis of evil" countries along with Iran and Iraq. Later that year, North Korea reactivated its nuclear facilities and asked the UN nuclear watchdog to leave. In January of 2003, North Korea formally withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.1 In face of mounting US military buildup in the region, North Korea fired surface-to-vessel test missiles. In July 2003, North Korea began reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods, supporting the notion that they intended to produce nuclear weapons.1 For the first time in July of 2004, the communist country publicly acknowledged 'that most of their nuclear programs are weapons related'.

In spite of the July 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, a state of War has continually existed between North and South Korea. The huge military buildup on both sides of the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) and the tense relationship between the two countries is a constant source of instability in the region. With an unpredictable, ruthless, secretive despot as the head of state who may already or shortly have access to nuclear weapons, the country provides a serious threat to its immediate neighbors, and the world at large. Kim Jong-Il has continually declared that his country's nuclear weapons program is aimed at acting as a deterrent against U.S.'s aggressive foreign policy, but there are other possible explanations for this nuclear arsenal. One rationale may be the prestige of joining the elite global nuclear weapons club. The other, more serious reason may be the possibility for the cash-strapped nation to earn revenues by selling the weapons and/or the technology to hostile nations and terrorist organizations.

The issue at hand here is the fact that the Bush administration has consistently brushed off the threat posed by North Korea. Bush may rationalize this decision based on the fact that Kim Jong Il has threatened to use his weapons on various occasions, but has repeatedly withdrawn, or because he under-estimates North Korea's capability and willingness to launch an attack. But the fact still remains, there is a rogue nation with nuclear weapon capabilities, and this is a matter of grave concern for one and all.



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