North Korea Goes "Boom"

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on May 26, 2009

Or something like that. Depressingly, there are few options that the United States and other countries can pursue. It is possible to put North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and to increase sanctions, but being on the terrorist watch list didn’t do much to regulate North Korean behavior in the past–though perhaps the argument can be made that some kind of opprobrium is appropriate–and sanctions have a diminishing effect on a country that is so poor and deprived as to defy belief. The only real solution to this crisis is to get the Chinese more involved, but who is to say that the Chinese would not mind seeing the North Koreans further tie down China’s competitors–the U.S. being first and foremost among them–with its belligerent acts? To be sure, the Chinese did condemn the North’s nuclear test and may be set to pass a tough resolution out of the Security Council, but I am not sure that they will go too far in condemning the North.

I am curious to see what the Obama Administration is going to do about this. The President campaigned on the claim that if we only reach out to the North more, we will see progress on the nuclear front. But that hasn’t worked out thus far. Complicating the issue is the increasing likelihood that there is a power struggle ongoing in Pyongyang. In addition to potentially reconsidering its approach to North Korea, the Administration has to consider how any possible power struggle impacts the situation. It is early in the lifetime of Barack Obama’s Presidency, but the problem of North Korea and nuclear weapons is already well-advanced, and it does not seem that the Administration knows how to deal with the crisis.

UPDATE: And now we have rockets. If North Korea wanted attention, it has got it.

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