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Could Obama End North Korea's Nuclear Ambition?

Posted by: Ihlwan Moon on June 17, 2009

President Barack Obama and his South Korean counterpart Lee Myung Bak on June 17 displayed a strong unity, both vowing to depart from a pattern of rewarding North Korea for creating a crisis. After a meeting at the White House, they told a news conference that they are committed to the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula despite North Korea’s second nuclear test on May 25. They also pledged stern measures against North Korea aimed at blocking its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Yet, in spite of the achievement of a high level of solidarity between Washington and Seoul that lacked during their predecessors’ presidency, the past pattern of alternating between pressure and dialogue may well continue. That’s because there appears to be no better option, given that a military strike is out of the question and China, Pyongyang’s main ally, is not prepared to pull the plug. North Korea’s reclusive leader Kim Jong Il, on the other hand, has made it clear that he will push ahead with his nuclear ambition at all costs.

Sure, the international community is united in condemning North Korea’s defiance of calls for an end to nuclear proliferation. The U.N. adopted a resolution of sanctions last week and the new penalties toughened an arms embargo against Pyongyang that had been already in place since its first nuclear test in 2006. The U.N. Security Council also authorized searches of North Korean ships suspected of carrying weapons, but stopped short of endorsing the enforcement of the measures through military force.

The question is what would Obama do if Pyongyang continues to threaten the international community with more provocations? Obama said after his meeting with Lee: “Belligerent, provocative behavior that threatens neighbors will be met with serious enforcement of sanctions that are in place.” But he left the door open for dialogue. “We are more than willing to engage in negotiations to get North Korea on a path of peaceful coexistence with its neighbors, and we want to encourage their prosperity,” he said.

Meanwhile, with all the display of unity (Lee was the first foreign leader in Obama’s presidency to appear in the Rose Garden together with the U.S. president), parliaments in Washington and Seoul are unlikely to approve a bilateral free trade agreement any time soon either. Asked about the issue, Obama talked about the need to clear some barriers, including concerns among industries to be affected, and said: “Once we have resolved some of the substantive issues, then there’s going to be the issue of political timing and when that should be presented to Congress. But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse.”

Reader Comments

aaron silverstein

June 17, 2009 1:12 PM

north karea has nukes we should be a littel more nise

Don B.

June 17, 2009 1:21 PM

The declarations have been made; the dots have been connected.
The bombed nuclear site in Syria shows North Korea's intent to export nuclear weapons.
Kim Jung Il has talked himself into a corner. and feels he has to show that he means business.
If we don't neutralize him we should convince China to move in and take over. It can't possibly be worse, for the world, and especially for the North Korean people.


June 17, 2009 1:30 PM

The US are hypocrites. The ONLY country in the world that ever used a nuclear weapon on another country is not North Korean.


June 17, 2009 1:36 PM

Easy solution to the North Korean stupidity: give them the nukes they want. Rain nukes down upon their heads until they all glow. Problem solved. And as an added bonus, scientists will get to observe radiation accelerated evolution/adaptation.


June 17, 2009 1:40 PM

obama can do nothing.


June 17, 2009 1:49 PM

I'm all for reopening carpet bombing if it comes to that to deal with N. Korea. I don't see the need to sacrifice more of our men.


June 17, 2009 4:58 PM

obama was elected to be mr nice guy
when rogue states strike
a nice guy dont strike back
he sends diplomats to talk

C. H. Ng

June 18, 2009 2:02 AM

Hello you people out's not so easy as ABC. Now we are dealing with a "rogue state" (or whatever) who got nuke weapons, not countries like Iraq or Aghanistan or Vietnam where you can just carpet bombing them and / or just nuke them.
No doubt North Korea has yet the technology and capability to nuke your country back BUT what about countries like South Korea and Japan for the matter? Millions of people there including the North Koreans are going to suffer from the effects of a nuclear catastrophe. Not counting those nearby countries who are not even the targets.

Go ahead IF only you or your country can totally guaranteed a clean knockout of her nuclear threat. Or just honestly admit you don't care a damn about other countries' / people's suffering. If not, just shut up.


June 18, 2009 11:33 AM

Ahh.. "C.H.Ng": another one that would have predicted "at least 10,000 dead U.S. soldiers in Iraq during Desert Storm." N. Korean "forces" are a joke. They can barely feed their soldiers let alone arm them decently. As to their "nuclear capabilities". Bah. Stupid little Russian made missiles that's been proven easy to shoot down.


June 18, 2009 11:46 AM

Hit them first before they do.

Paul Pablo

June 18, 2009 1:07 PM

How can we enforce A nuclear ban on North Korea wen we are an agressor state has used nuclear weapons before. Don't forget that we did an unprovoked attack against Iraq and our navy is off shore in Asia. Are any Asian navy present off shore of America ? the N, Koreans have a right to be frghten by our presence in their neighborhood.


June 18, 2009 3:29 PM

Obama's policy to North Korea:

"President Obama attempted to calm those fears, saying that the United States was prepared to "scour the thesaurus" to come up with additional adjectives and was "prepared to use adverbs" if necessary.

"Let's be clear: we are not taking adverbs off the table," Mr. Obama said. "If the need arises, we will use them forcefully, aggressively, swiftly, overwhelmingly and commandingly."


June 18, 2009 3:30 PM

Their are about 10 odd countries in ME , N Africa and elsewhere with “civilian” nuclear programs on fast track for “security” reasons (Read Nukes) . NK will likely provide the Nuke Weapons tech when they have build up enough on “civilian” side to use it. While China smiles with complete deniability, while it gets preferred ME resource access in exchange at best or use it as super leverage against the west at least. There is presidence for this, just look at at Chinas -Pakistan - NKorea , nukes and DF rockets saga. & NK -Syria activity .

Note**: Any country can LEGALLY pull out of CTBT/NPT at anytime for national security reasons , fact that msm downplays. Nk did just this to stay legal when it was ready to test, so will others.


June 18, 2009 4:55 PM

Obama should work to get rogue nuclear states such as Pakistan, India, Israel and NK to sign the NPT and verifiably elimnate their nuclear weapons.


June 18, 2009 9:06 PM

US has almost 10,000 pieces of nuke, why not North Korea. In fact, every country is entitled to have nukes unless everyone abolishes at the same time. Make sense to you? By the way, the only country that actually USED nukes, not one, but two, is not North Korea.

Business Nguyen

June 18, 2009 9:12 PM

Why North Korea can not have nuclear weapons. They are under dictatorship and nepotism, but more responsible than democratic US. They didn't drop atomic bomb to anyone. They didn't kill millions of innocent people in the name of democracy or anything. Time of the US to be the world police is over.

By the way, I do not believe in propaganda about their rampant famine or poverty. Westerners here should take a look at real pictures of North Korea by Westerner tourists. People look well-fed and well-clad, streets are modern and clean, infrastructure are relatively good. Yes they are a poor country but also a high-discipline, urbanized, relatively highly educational and civilized societies. Their GDP per capita, in nominal term, is about 2000$, still much higher than many countries in the world.

C. H.Ng

June 18, 2009 10:17 PM

How well do we or rather you, Mr DanTe, know about NK's nuclear capability? Even if they are exactly what you have claimed, how sure are we that we can assume total destruction of her nuke capability in a preemptive strike? What will going to happen if NK managed to fire a few of her nuke missiles at SK or Japan or whatsoever?

The prediction of some 10,000 dead American soldiers is never my concern but the hundreds of thousand or maybe millions of innocent people within the danger zone from a nuclear fallout.

I think you are making a mistake of underestimating your "enemy" and became too cocksure of your country's military might, Mr DanTe. Nevertheless I think you also missed out an important other factor... China and Russia. Will they just stand and watch an attack on their ally?


June 19, 2009 10:03 AM

To "C.H.Ng": I was not advocating the total destruction of N.Korea's nuclear capability in a preemptive strike. I was advocating the total destruction of N.Korea's gangster population. Remove the slimy trigger fingers and you don't need to worry about nukes and what not. Most of the world's counterfeit dollars & yens comes from there. They're known to sell their women to the U.S., Japan and China as prostitutes by telling those women that they will be "spying" for N.Korea. Drug trade into China is rampant. They control the illegal pachinko/gambling dens. Global kidnapping is routine business for N.Koreans. So who will cry for irradiated N.Koreans? None.


June 19, 2009 1:14 PM

LOL. you called that one right on target. Even JFK, an amazing speaker zipped it when missles went to cuba and got down to the business.

Obama is too full of rhetoric which he uses to distract everyone while he sends America into the the socialistic dark ages.

C. H. Ng

June 20, 2009 7:49 AM

Ah...this sounds much better, Mr DanTe. At least you are not advocating massive use of forces. As far as I am concerned, I dread war which usually bring much sufferings and destructions.

As for your description of the NK's regime, I have no comment as I haven't being there and I know next to nothing about the country & her people. Without evidence, I can't say anything. But if given the choice, between NK & SK, I will choose the latter and her beautiful ladies hands down.


June 20, 2009 6:19 PM

the pass two bombs on japan were two save lives it is estimate over 11 million japanise lives and 10,000 american lives. nuclear bombs should not be allowed to a fanaticle dictater who has nothing two loose. as far as stoping him, well depending on what he has it might be possible to destroy north karea's nuclear threat. they should not have been allowed to have them in the first place. and now one has the right to have nuclear weapons but if i had to trust someone i would perfer it to be the us or better yet the un, instead of cray dictators. also don't speak if you do not no what your talking about.

C. H. Ng

June 21, 2009 8:59 PM

Talking about nuclear bombs, threats and all that, if we are going to look back from the day such weapon was first developed, it's an interesting fact that the only country in this world who had ever used the bombs was USA on Japan during WWII.
Since then the American was also the one who have threatened to use such weapons during the Korean war, Cuba crisis & Vietnam war (in that sequence). Other countries who have or had followed US's tactic of threatening to use nuke weapons on other countries, whether openly or quietly, are (if I am not mistaken) Russia, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and N Korea. So did Iraq and Iran even though they did not managed to successfully built such weapon in their arsenal.

So from the above, it's easy to note that not only dictatorship regimes or governments are the source of worry of starting another nuclear holocast but open & democratic governments as well. Another case of a pot calling a kettle black? So who is the one who is doing the speaking when he or she doesn't know what he or she is talking?


June 23, 2009 2:04 PM

North Korea's funny, Thinking they have power over the US? Do they not understand that we have 20x the power there small ass country offers? Not to mention there leader, Kim Jung? He need's alot of mental help. What a sick puppy. Barack needs to take him down just like we took down Iraq leader Saddam before it's too late. Is the wait worth a bad disaster? No. Let's get Kim Jung before he get's us.

C. H. Ng

June 24, 2009 1:31 AM

It's funny reading all the comments posted here. As far as I can see, those comments posted by westerners tend to emphasize their nations' power over underdog countries like NK & Iraq.
It makes me wonder whether you people think it's your divine rights to be the masters of this world? Or is that you think God will be forever on your side to remain as the most powerful nation for the past decades, now and in the next generation? And it's your rights to have as many powerful nuke weapons in your arsenal whereas no other countries (other than those who have already had) can even dream of having such bomb?
If that is the case, then just go ahead and obliterate all these small nations and her people who dare to dream such dreams. You can even treat it as your nation's divine rights to totally erase them from this universe BUT DON'T EVER TALK OR MENTION OR PREACH ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS / FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND WHATEVER BLAH, BLAH, BLAH AGAIN. IT SUCKS!!!

And please remember these...what goes around will come around and that empires come & go; it does not last forever.

Thomas O Bergquist

July 14, 2009 1:47 PM

The North Korean gangsters are committing Economic War against the US.
So, we (the US) should commit Economic War (Total) against the gangsters. If those in the West want to cooperate with the gangsters then let the pressure fall on them also.

Sanjay Shende

July 17, 2009 1:00 AM

@ Patricia

"Obama should work to get rogue nuclear states such as Pakistan, India, Israel and NK to sign the NPT and verifiably elimnate their nuclear weapons."

What planet are you from ? How dare you call India a rogue state ? India is the country that showed the world the path of peace, and oh, US is the only country to have ever used the N-Bomb in an actual war, BTW. What gives her the right to even assume that US has the moral right to play big brother to the whole world, and they are the ones who have the right to be the 'nanny' and the duty to eliminate the nuclear weapons of other countries, huh ?

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