North Korea’s Second Nuclear Crisis By Dewi Barnas (18 June 2009)On May 25th, coincided with United States’ Memorial Day, North Korea once again executed a nuclear test and created tension in theregion. Seouls National Intelligence Service said Tuesday that the second test by the North was believed to have an explosive forcefour to eight times stronger than that of the first test. However, even a few weeks after the test was conducted, there was noradioactive material found in the air samples in the vicinity.Nevertheless, the alleged nuclear test did create an anxiety in the region. President Lee Myung Bak of South Korea immediatelydiscussed the situation with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso and the leaders of other allies in the afternoon of t he launching. Ona brief phone conversation, President Lee and President Barack Obama of the United States (U.S.) also agreed to seek a stern, unifiedreaction to North Korea’s action. The next day, South Korea immediately indicated to join the U.S. in its anti-proliferationcampaign and the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), which they have been avoiding for years since the previous Roh Moo -Hyunadministration. This was promptly responded by North Korea with a threat of taking the move as a de facto declaration of war.A third nuclear test was suspected to be conducted on June 16 th, the exact same day as a meeting was scheduled between President Leeand President Obama in Washington. Despite their vile threat, there was no nuclear activity recorded in North Korea on the day. Themeeting went smoothly between Lee and Obama, and the discussion ranged from the nuclear crisis to the Free Trade Agreement(FTA) between the two countries that is still under discussion.A lot of controversies spin around as what was behind this recent nuclear test. Some say that the nuclear test was aimed at distractinginternational attention from North Korea’s ailing economy and providing a stage for Kim Jong Il’s youngest son’s to resume thethrone. While others say that it was aimed at getting U.S.’ attention back, since North Korea has felt quite neglected by Obama’sadministration, as well as displaying their progress in nuclear capability.
Overview of North Korea Provocations Over the YearsPyongyang’s first nuclear crisis took place in 1998, with the launching of Taepodong rocket that flies over Japan and landed in thePacific Ocean. Within the decade since then, there have been many more incidents provoked by North Korea, while also there hav ebeen some remarkable achievements reached through bilateral and multilateral negotiations with the rogue state. The following tablewill briefly show the fluctuation of North Korean nuclear crisis, since Kim Jong Il first took the throne from his father, vi ewed fromthe different regimes that he dealt with in South Korea. Kim Dae Jung Roh Moo Hyun Lee Myung Bak (1998-2001) (2002-2007) (2008-present) Taepodong launch. North and South Korean naval Expelled South Korean South Korea captured North vessels waged a gun battle in the managers from joint Korean mini submarines in its Yellow Sea; some 30 North industrial base in Kaesong. waters; 9 crews inside were Koreans and 4 South Korean North Korean soldiers shot a found dead. sailors were killed. South Korean tourist in Mount Reactivated Yongbyon nuclear Kumkang special tourism area reactor and kicked out IAEA of North Korea, in June 2008. inspectors on December 2006. Launched a three-stageAssaults and Withdrawal from Nuclear Non- rocket capable of carrying aOffenses Proliferation Treaty (NPT). warhead that could reach part Striked 7 missiles, including one of the US, in April 2009. long-range Taepodong 2 and Conducted second nuclear several medium-range rockets on test on May 25th, 2009. American Independence Day (4th Fired a total of 5 missiles of July) in 2006. in the 2 days that followed. Conducted first nuclear test Prepared to launch an on October 26th, 2006. ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile).
Ultimatum that any move taken by the U.S. or South Korea is a de facto declaration of war. Reconciliation and Cooperation Peace and Prosperity Policy Mutual benefit and Co- “Sunshine Policy” to engage Passengers train crossed the Prosperity policy North Korea through cross- North-South border for the first border business projects. time in 56 years. Inter-Korean Summit in The second Inter-Korea SummitSouth Korea’s Pyongyang on June 2000. was held in Pyongyang on Called a review of NorthApproach October 2007. Korean policy.and/or The summit was followed with Roh symbolically crossed theAchievements cabinet-level meetings between yellow line that officially South and North Korean officials, separated the two countries, three family reunions, and a host of watched by millions of viewers Criticism toward North Korea’s working-level meetings on a variety on national and international human rights record. issues. televisions. 1. Preventing a war on Korean 1. Promoting peace on the Korean 1. Further enhancement of inter- peninsula Peninsula Korean relationship along with 2. Easing military tensions and 2. Pursuing co-prosperity changes in North Korea establishing peace o Realizing co-prosperity of 2. Realizing an advanced KoreanPolicy Goals of 3. Substantiality improving the both Korea peninsula through peace andSouth Korea inter-Korean relationship o Pursuing co-prosperity of economic community 4. Inducing changes in North Korea the Northeast Asia 3. Laying the foundation for 5. Achieving a peaceful and gradual peaceful unification through unification which people on both Koreas can live happily Kim successfully ensured Roh was often confrontational Agreed to join PSI with US Clinton’s administration that toward the US. and Japan, which was North Korea will cooperate. Rejected US’ Proliferation rejected by the previousSouth Korea – Not in-line with Bush’ Security Initiative (PSI) administration.US Alliance administration policy. Agreed to the relocate one third Lining policies with the US of the US Forces in Korea (USFK) and allies. Reduce financial share to USFK in 2004.
More of a partnership than a patron-client relationship Conducted talks to regain wartime operational control from the US. - Agreed to denuclearization in Withdrawal from Six-Party exchange to emergency energy Talks in April 2009. assistance.North Korean IAEA was allowed access toReciprocity in verify the shutdown of YongbyonSix-Party reactor.Talks Agreed to shut down nuclear facilities, deadlocked on the talk to disablement and dismantlement of the facilities.International ResponseNorth Korea’s second nuclear test came as a shock in South Korea, which is still mourning over the lost of their previous presidentRoh Moo-Hyun. However, North Korean government claimed that the test was already scheduled before the incident happened andhad nothing to do with Roh’s death. The timing could not be any worse for South Korea, which was also hosting the ASEAN-KoreaCommemorative Summit and thus had all heads of governments from ten Southeast Asian nations invited to the country just a fewdays after the test.President Lee quickly called for joining the U.S.-led PSI strategy, and even regretted Obama’s approach which was rather “soft”toward the rogue nation in the early days of his administration. South Korea plans to sell steel products which were supposed to bedelivered to North Korea in return for denuclearization, as a sanction for the nuclear test they conducted. Further, in a meetingbetween South Korea’s Defense Minister Yu Myung Hwan and US’ Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on June 5 th, the two parties
agreed to take joint action and on the need of “extended deterrence” to protect South Korea under the US nuclear umbrella andconventional military posture in times of emergency.President Lee also met with President Obama in Washington on June 16th, to further discuss about US security umbrella in SouthKorea. The summit, however, only resulted in limited response on North Korea’s offense. The two leaders agreed that South Kor eawill play a larger role in fighting global challenges, either security or economic challenges; the U.S. in return will stand firm toprovide South Korea with security deterrence capabilities as well as its nuclear umbrella. The two presidents also signed a d ocumenttitled the Joint Vision for the Alliance of the USA and the ROK, which is basically a reassurance on the alliance’ commitments oncommon goals and strategic operations on every level.Meanwhile, the rest of Six-Party Talks member countries, particularly Japan, also condemned North Korea’s belligerent act.Currently, Tokyo prohibits port entry to North Korean ships and exports of luxury items and material related to weapons of ma ssdestruction. Aso also reached out to South Korean President Lee Myung Bak, who confirmed the importance of tripartitecooperation with the U.S. Concurrently, Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone also tried to secure China’s support for anew Security Council Resolution. Japan and South Korea also joined in United Nations Security Council (UNSC) discussion todraft a resolution sanctioning North Korea for its latest act, which took approximately 2 weeks to reach agreement.After the first nuclear test which was conducted in 2006, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 1718,which called for partial arms embargo, ban on luxury goods, and ship searches for illegal weapons or materials toward NorthKorea. However, the recent negotiation to draft another resolution did not proceed smoothly; as China and Russia were undecidedon the level of severity they would consent to apply sanction on North Korea. The full 15-member council finally adopted Resolution1784 on June 12th, which reaffirmed the previous resolution to ban all weapons exports from North Korea and most arms imports intothe country. It also authorized U.N. member states to inspect cargo, requiring North Korean sea, air and land cargo, requiring them toseize and destroy shipped goods that violate the sanctions. On the financial side, the resolution forbids transactions and moneyflows that could support Pyongyangs missile or nuclear program. It also prohibits all financial assistance other than for humanitarianor development purposes.
The resolution was immediately rebuffed by North Korea, claiming that the resolution was orchestrated by the U.S. and does not holdany ground from the point of view of international law. Further, North Korea stated that they will response the resolution byweaponizing the newly extracted plutonium, and any kind of blockade that the U.S. or “its followers” attempt at North Korea will beregarded as an act of war and met with a decisive military response.Condemnations on North Korea’s latest move do not only come from the parties in Six Party Talks, but also from European Union ,Australia, ASEAN, and even Iran. Leaders of ASEAN member states and President Lee Myung Bak took time to adopt a Join PressStatement in the midst of their summit in Jeju do, South Korea, to denounce the nuclear test.US Policy on North KoreaThe beginning of Obama’s administration in the U.S. brings a lot of hope for people in many countries. America’s maturity to elect apresident from a minority group was expected to also be the beginning of a whole new chapter in American global policy. In NorthKorean nuclear issue, in particular, Obama has particularly shown a different intention of U.S’ foreign policy by calling for a renewalof American diplomacy, by talking to both friends and foes.Despite Obama’s openness to have a dialogue with Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s request to let their nuclear negotiator, Kim Kye-Gwanto attend Obama’s inauguration was plainly rejected by the administration. This among others was translated by North Korea as asign of U.S’ consistency in carrying confrontational policy toward them, despite the rhetoric of Obama’s engagement policy.
Nevertheless, Obama’s administration policy has been essentially “benevolent”, especially in comparison with Bush’ administration.Defense Secretary Robert Gates has made it clear that the U.S. was not considering military action against North Korea, but t hepreferable course was to inflict “real pain” on the regime with tough sanctions. The U.S. has also made clear that they will nottolerate North Korea’s aggressive attitude, by rewarding or fulfilling their demands following a military assault.The fact is, up until June now, Obama’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell,was still not confirmed by the Senate; which leaves a key policymaking role for East Asia unfulfilled. This is probably one of thereasons why Obama’s administration was rather undecided on how to deal with the recent nuclear test.Up to May 29th, State Department had still not elaborate on what kind of sanctions Washington was seeking, but diplomats in NewYork said that the U.S.-drafted resolution circulated later in the day among the 15-member of UNSC members called for financialsanctions, among others, on North Korea. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the administration of President Obamaand its allies were still open to dialogue but won’t bend to pressure or provocation.North Korea is also reported to have captured two American journalists earlier this year, near the North Korean border while onreporting trip to China. The two journalists were convicted with 12 years labor work in North Korean labor prison camp oncharges of illegal entry and “hostile acts”. There is an increasing anxiousness that North Korea might use them as bargaining chipsin negotiations with the U.S. This also adds to the factors to be considered in U.S. final call on how to deal with North Koreanregime.Current Development
Following the nuclear test, North Korea launched six ground-to-ship and ground-to-air missiles two days in a row, making it difficultfor South Korea, the U.S, and Japanese airplanes to measure the radioactivity-level of the nuclear test conducted. Japans DefenseMinistry said it has sent several T-4 fighters on surveillance missions to monitor radiation levels, without any results. The firing ofanti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles was said to deter U.S. and Japanese ships and aircraft from coming close to collect evidence of thenuclear test, while at the same time threatening South Korea. A quake expert and official at Japan Meteorological Agency saidthat North Korea’s latest nuclear test was measured at magnitude -5.3, higher than the first nuclear test in 2006 which was atmagnitude -4.9. However, a few days after the test was conducted, there was still no radioactive material found in the vicinity.In the recent development, North Korea has also banned vessels from navigating in the mid and upper parts of the Yellow Sea fornearly two months until the end of July. Pyongyang has also warned to conduct military strikes against South Korean and U.S.naval ships that are operating along the western sea border, where North and South Korean naval vessels waged a gun battle in 2002which resulted casualties on both sides.They are also reported to have had transported their most advanced long-range missile to a launch site on its western coasts. Theywere also preparing to launch several medium-range missiles, possibly modified versions of the Rodong series, from a base in the eastcoast of the country. The latest missile which is believed to be capable of reaching the US was reported to be ready for launch in aweek or two.Meanwhile, South Korea – U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) has upgraded their surveillance level on North Korea, followingthe latest nuclear test and the firing of six short-range missiles on May 25 th-26th. The CFC, led by a four-star American armygeneral, raised its Watch Condition (WATCHCON) to level 2, which denotes vital indications of a security threat – WATCHCON fornormal peace time is level 4. South Korean navy has also deployed a brand-new patrol boat armed with state-of-the-art ship-to-ship guided missiles to waters on the western coast yesterday, to anticipate for any possible development in North Korea.Meanwhile, the air force will also carry out a training exercise with its high-tech F-15K fleet, which is capable of air-to-ground, air-to-air, and air-to-sea missions day and night, in any weather conditions.
It is rather difficult to predict what might come out next in North Korea’s nuclear strategy, since the international community seems tobe running out of time to continue whatever it is that has been reached so far with Kim Jong Il. Intelligence source has reported thatshort after the nuclear test, a memo was circulated to North Korean embassies overseas notifying that Kim Jong Il’s third son, 26years-old Kim Jong-Un, will continue his father’s footstep as the leader of the communist state. Some sources said that the memowas part of the official succession, which is not yet complete; and other sources said that North Korea Workers Party members,military personnel, and diplomats have taken an oath of allegiance to Kim, Jr.Currently, South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities have begun surveillance on 11 North Korean sites on possible third nucleartest, as an act of response to UNSC sanctions. Washington had sent a fact-finding team to Geumchang-ri in exchange forproviding 600,000 tons of rice to North Korea, but failed to find any proof of nuclear activities there.Regime ChangeKim Jong-Un, who is issued to carry on North Korea’s leadership torch, is the youngest son of Kim Jong Il. North Korea’s next leaderis reported to have attended the International School of Bern in Switzerland in the late 1990’s, under the pseudonym of Chol Pak. Aformer classmate described him as a shy student who loved basketball and Jean-Claude Van Damme. A Swiss news magazine,LHebdo, reported earlier this year that classmates recalled him as timid and introvert but an avid skier, basketball player and fan ofNBA star Michael Jordan. He was humble and willing to step in to break up schoolyard fights, a former school director told themagazine. Susanna Schranz, a spokeswoman for the private school, however, refused to comment, noting that for some parents,"discretion is really important." After returning to Pyongyang, he attended the Kim Il Sung Military University, and graduated in2007.Little is known about Kim Jong-Un, who has made only few public appearances since his Switzerland days. Pictures of the young boyfrom his days in Switzerland is no longer verifiable as he had ballooned to nearly 200 pounds as he had developed a drinking habitfollowing the lost of his mother – Kim Jong Il’s third wife – in 2004.
In Pyongyang schools, the authorities seem to have started to arouse an atmosphere of succession. According t o a Japanese source,children in North Korean elementary schools have started learning a new song, “The Song of General Kim Jong Woon.” The sameinformation was reported by South Korean Dong-A Ilbo later in the week. The source reported that children were not allowed to gohome before they memorized the song. The schools also taught the children that Kim Jong-Un is 34 to 36 years old, ten years olderthan his actual age. Officials of the Party also inflate his career, by even saying that he graduated from seven universities.However, there is skepticism rousing among analysts, because there has not been official nominating process in Pyongyang, nor anyofficial announcement concerning Kim Jong-Un’s succession. Instead of Kim Jong-Un, there is likeliness that Kim Jong Il’sbrother in-law, Chang Sung-Taek, will play an even more crucial rule as Kim Jong-Un’s regent. Washington Post reported thatsince last summer, when Kim Jong Il was said to have suffered a stroke, Chang had been consistently mentioned in propaganda a ndhas been named frequently in connection with Kim Jong Il. Chang was also recently elected to the National Defense Committee,which aroused even more suspicion to the international community.Kim Jong Il was originally believed to want to name a successor by 2012 – the centenary of the birth of his father, Kim Il Sung.However, his health conditions, among other things, seem to have stepped up the pace, marked by the launching of “150-day battle” tourge North Koreans to work harder to build the country’s economy. In 1970’s, Kim Il Su ng also arranged for his son to take credit fora “70-day battle” before he was affirmatively announced as the Great Leader’s successor.“150-day battle” is a propaganda that has progressed from May 10 th, the foundation day of the Worker’s Party, to October 10th thisyear. The fundamental aims of this movement are construction of houses, normalization of farming and railroads, and enhancingthe activities of local factories and mines. One source said that the backdrop of the battle is to prepare an economic breakthroughto achieve the completion of the strong and prosperous state by 2012. The workers Party is reported to have handed a secret lettercontaining a detailed tasks to complete a strong and prosperous socialist state by 2012. The precise production goals for the strongand prosperous state announced in the letter were to generate 7.76 million kilowatts of electricity a year, pr oduce 33 million tons of
metal, 13 million metric tons of coal and 7 million metric tons of food, move 72 million metric tons of freight and, additionally,modernize the economy and technology-intensive industries. North-South RelationFormer South Korean President Kim Dae Jung had just returned from his trip to Beijing and Washington when North Korea launchedthe second nuclear test. The former president analyzed that Kim Jong Il’s move was fueled by his disappointment to Obama’sadministration, who did not give him the attention he deserves. He complained that while Obama focuses on Afghanistan,Pakistan, the Middle East, Iran, Russia, and “even Cuba,” he has not even appointed his full time experts on North Korea yet. Theformer president further analyzed that Kim Jong Il is in a great hurry, despite his recently reported recovery from stroke, t o secure asuccessor. And to do so, he needs the Western superpower’s recognition.However, Kim Dae Jung is not voicing the popular opinion in South Korea. Soon after the nuclear test was known by public,protesters gathered in South Korea and burn North Korean flag and portraits of Kim Jong Il. Conservative protesters even rallied witha mock North Korean missile during an anti-North Korean rally in Seoul on June 2 nd. Some protesters also hold pictures of KimJong Il and his assumed successor, Kim Jong-Un, in the demonstration. This view is also shared by a lot of security experts, whomostly believe that North Korea is merely using the nuclear program as some kind of trump card to extort guarantees of the re gime’ssurvival and financial assistance from the US – as it usually does.Another issue that remains unsettled in North-South relation is the continuation of the joint industrial complex of Kaesong, which islocated in North Korea. North Korea has suggested a four times raise for North Korean worker’s in the industrial area, and 500 milliondollars rent for the use of approximately 3.3 million square meters of land. Aside from that, North Korea is also still holding oneSouth Korean worker who was working on the complex for more than 70 days now.
End-Notes Korea Times, 26 May 2009. Korea Times, 25 May 2009. Korea Times, 26 May 2009. Ibid. Reuters, 26 May 2009. Ibid. Park Hyung Jung, “Seeking Sustainable North Korea Policy 1: Centering around the Former Government’s Policies for the Last Ten Years”, presented in2009 South-South Dialogue: Seeking Sustainable North Korea Policy Through South-South Cooperation, 14 May 2009. Korea Times, 31 May 2009. Korea Herald, 16 June 2009. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 27 May 2009. Ibid. Ibid. Korea Herald, 1 June 2009. Korea Herald, 15 June 2009. Arab Herald, 13 June 2009. Reuters, 13 June 2009. Korea IT Times, 2 June 2009. Council on Foreign Relations, 21 January 2008. Newsweek, 29 January 2009 New York Times, 8 may 2009. The Telegraph, 20 May 2009. Korea Times, 17 June 2009. Washington Times, 26 May 2009. Korea Times, 29 May 2009. Korea Times, 31 May 2009. Korea Times, 4 June 2009. Ibid. Ibid. Associated Press, 2 June 2009. Ibid. Ibid.
 Korea Times, 1 June 2009. Ibid. Associated Press, 3 June 2009. Korea Times, 28 may 2009. Ibid. Korea Times, 2 June 2009. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Korea Herald, 16 June 2009. Associated Press, 2 June 2009. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Daily NK, 21 May 2009. Ibid. Ibid. Washington Post, 3 June 2009. Ibid. Ibid. Associated Press, 2 June 2009. Daily NK, 6 May 2009. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Spiegel Online International, 1 June 2009. Ibid. Ibid. Reuters, 2 June 2009. Spiegel Online International, 1 June 2009.