Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The nuclear lesson from North Korea and Libya

So the Libyan rebel forces, aided by the massive military power of the United States and NATO, have cast Muammar Qaddafi onto the rubble heap of history.
As pundits contemplate the lessons that other states may take away from this undertaking, it may surprise one to learn that perhaps the shrewdest of those pundits has been none other than the "volatile," "unpredictable," and "irrational" leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Il.

Just days after NATO commenced its "enforcement" of a UN-authorized "no-fly zone" by launching cruise missiles directly at Mr. Qaddafi's house, an anonymous North Korean Foreign Ministry official stated that "The Libyan crisis is teaching the international community a grave lesson."-- Qaddafi should have held on to his nuclear weapons program.

If Libya had possessed the capability, oh, to obliterate a major American military base in Italy, or to vaporize an entire American "carrier battle group" off the southern coast of France, it almost certainly would have dissuaded Washington (not to mention Rome and Paris) from military action. If the Libyan regime wanted to ensure its own survival, then, just like North Korea, it should have developed a nuclear deterrent – small, survivable, and just lethal enough to inflict unacceptable damage on any aggressor.

But instead, Qaddafi was seduced by the siren song of the West. Give up your weapons of mass destruction, they said, and we will welcome you into the international community.

No such fate awaits North’s Korea’s Kim. Volatile, irresponsible, and loathsome though his regime, he holds in his hands the royal flush of a nuclear deterrent.

-Tad Daley, author of “Apocalypse Never: Forging the Path to a Nuclear Weapon-Free World”

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