Concessions to N. Korea likely to elicit only ‘paper promises’

POLITICAL and economic concessions to North Korea will at best secure “paper promises” from Pyongyang to give up its nuclear-development programme, a Foreign Affairs analyst has warned.

Such a strategy would also create a “perverse incentive” for countries to play the nuclear card to extract concessions from the United States, said Mr Ted Carpenter of the Cato institute, a Washington-based think tank.

His article, Closing The Nuclear Umbrella, was published in the latest edition of the American journal Foreign Affairs.

“Diplomatic or economic inducements are unlikely to dissuade regimes that have expansionist aims or that fear for their own survival from acquiring independent deterrents,” he wrote.

On the flip side, hardline policies in the form of economic sanctions or pre-emptive military strikes were equally ineffective in resolving the impasse on the Korean Peninsula, Mr Carpenter said.

He pointed to the poor record of sanctions in persuading countries to alter their policies.

Embargoes were unlikely to compel Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear aspirations, since North Korea was already isolated from global trade.

In the case of a pre-emptive military strike, it could increase the prospect of terrorist incidents and attacks on US military forces and its allies, he said.

Mr Carpenter, who is director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato institute, said that despite the drawbacks in adopting either approach, Washington could still pursue a number of “worthwhile, low-risk initiatives” on the Korean Peninsula and in other areas.

Said Mr Carpenter: “The relevant task now is not so much to prevent proliferation as to learn how to live with it.”

His view was echoed by Mr Seth Crospey, director of the Asian Studies Center at the US Heritage Foundation.

In his article, The Only Credible Deterrent, also published in latest edition of Foreign Affairs, Mr Crospey argued that the spread of nuclear weapons had already advanced so far that the question now was how to prevent their usage.

He said the US could deter a nuclear aggressor, such as North Korea, through conventional means.

The US cruise-missile system, he said, contained many of the essential elements that could provide conventional deterrenceagainst a nuclear threat.

With at least 2,300 cruise missiles in its current inventory, Washington was at least five years from fielding such an extensive deterrent system.

The missiles were extremely accurate, he noted.

A thousand conventionally armed missiles “could decimate an enemy’s military, providing an effective deterrent against … a smaller nation’s use of nuclear force.”


* PURSUING an active diplomacy to minimise miscalculation. * DEVELOPING a reliable command-and-control system to prevent accidental launches. * REDUCING America’s own nuclear arsenal to foster a less threatening global environment.

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