North Korea: Insecurity Triumphs

Where does responsibility lie for the deteriorating situation on the Korean Peninsula? Is the answer to be found in secretive Stalinist North Korea or in Washington? Which state was responding rationally to events with a likely chance of its policy succeeding?

The World Today
Published 1 April 2005 Updated 15 October 2020 4 minute READ

While all eyes have been fixed on Iraq and the Middle East during President George Bush’s first term, a crisis with potentially disastrous consequences for the world has been looming in Asia. If one version of events is to be believed, it all began when the United States representative – James Kelly – met his North Korean counterparts in the autumn of 2002. According to one highly disputed translation of that encounter, North Korea apparently indicated it might have nuclear weapons. This in turn provoked an American reaction, and Washington began to look for ways of punishing and isolating Pyongyang.

Inevitably the North responded and did so by threatening to withdraw from the Non Proliferation Treaty to which they had been a reluctant party since December 1985. The situation deteriorated further still in January 2003 when the North finally did withdraw.

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