Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Looking Beyond The Headlines

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, stands with visiting Chinese official Liu Yunshan above the parade in Pyongyang.

"[The Chinese Communist Party is North Korea's major source of food, weapons and energy. The CCP sustains the tyranny of Kim Jong Un by its opposition of] harsh international sanctions on North Korea in the hope of avoiding regime collapse and a refugee influx across their border."
Council on Foreign Relations, New York
North Korea Anniversary
North Korean soldiers in historic uniforms march during a parade on the Kim Il Sung Square -- AP

North Korea has not been in the news very much lately. Space and attention has been taken up by the threat of terrorist attacks, the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, Russia's latter-day aggressiveness, and China's regional South and East China Sea tensions with its neighbours. Yet, if anyone believes that a quiescent North Korea is the future, they haven't been paying close enough attention to what North Korea has actually been up to.

The reclusive nation's military initiatives have been four-fold; expansion of fissile material (plutonium and enriched uranium); production of longer-range missiles to reach into the Pacific and on to more powerful models to reach the continental U.S.; development of a smaller, lighter nuclear warhead; and a survivable, strategic "deterrent" with small missile-launch submarine or mobile land-based missile launchers.

North Korean soldiers march beneath a portrait of late leader Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un's father, during the parade in Pyongyang.
Pyongyang October military parade

Admittedly ambitious for any country, all the more so for a country that has scant income, is subject to sanctions, and faces year-on-year food shortages for its population. But North Korea manages to surmount those difficulties, and it has been a major beneficiary of the indulgence of China, helping it to maintain itself, to sideline the necessities of life for its people, while pursuing its agenda of hostile mechanical and atomic science.

Satellite imagery demonstrates the restart of North Korea's plutonium reactor at Yongbyon and another plant that houses centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium. What other possible reason than to expand the nation's nuclear stockpile from the six to ten currently possessed to increase that stockpile by at least double or more by 2020. Propelled by paranoia, North Korea's little tyrant is determined to ensure "security" for his status as undisputed ruler of the cloistered country.

There are those, watching North Korea's preparations for a future assertion of itself as a dominant world power attacking actual dominant world powers becoming nervous at the prospect. That being an obvious scenario, given the hysterical threats emanating in the past from the pathological mindset of the Kim dynasty, and past offers to negotiate along with economic sanctions having failed, little is left but to employ threats that will not be rhetorical in nature, but backed by the conviction of follow-through militarily.

Unfortunately, there is always China, hovering in the background, like an anxious mother toward a wayward, unnervingly obnoxious child intent on doing harm to itself and to others. China has always been a staunch supporter of North Korea, and in the Security Council chamber has championed it. Yet China never quite can be certain of how the volatile Kim Jong Un will react to anything when the most obscure perceptions can set him off into a dangerous sulk.

And this appears to be one of those times. In October the North Korean National Security Department had arrested, imprisoned or executed over one hundred Chinese nationals, accusing some of them of being spies. Others accused of disseminating videos, supporting "defectors", being money carriers, or holding religious rites. Even the Chinese ambassador to North Korea was placed under investigation and being monitored, according to DailyNK, a Seoul, South Korea-based news agency.

DailyNK was informed by an anonymous source in North Korea that his country's campaign against Chinese nationals is involved with an "emergency investigation" taking place throughout North Korea. And that it represents the Kim regime's petulance with China for establishing cozy relations with South Korea. "Some Party cadres have even speculated that this move will spell the beginning of the end for Sino-North Korean relations", speculated the DailyNK.

China, it seems, has its own use for North Korea; using it as a political tool for propaganda, as a reminder to Chinese of what China had been like in the dangerously repressive days of Mao; in that life could be worse for the Chinese than it is now under the current administration as opposed to the days of the Cultural Revolution. As for its external use of the relationship with pathologically jittery North Korea, it does keep the West on edge.
In a carefully choreographed show of strength and celebration to mark the 70th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party, hundreds of troops marched in elaborate formations across Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square.
Kim il-Sung Square, Pyongyang

But the myth that China has clout with the Kim regime is a fallacy. While China has aided the North Korean madman in his lunatic schemes of self-aggrandizement to the status of semi-immortal playing with nuclear fire, the Chinese regime has become an uncomfortable target of North Korean spleen, so how much confidence can the world have that saner heads are capable of turning North Korea away from the threat it wishes to become to the outside world?

North Korean soldiers march below statues of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il.
North Korean soldiers march under statues of North Korean founder Kim il Sung and his son Kim Jong il

Labels: , , , , , ,

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Follow @rheytah Tweet