North Korea Continues Its Screaming Baby Act
North Korea reports a lot of things, so I'm waiting for independent confirmation of the success of their underground nuclear test. Clearly the President is taking it seriously, given his comments today.
Appearing on the White House steps, Obama said that its latest nuclear underground test and subsequent test firings of short-range ground to air missiles "pose a grave threat to the peace and security of the world and I strongly condemn their reckless action."
It was his second statement within hours of the tests, the latest in a number of nuclear actions that Obama said "endanger the people of Northeast Asia." He called it "a blatant violation of international law" and said that it contradicted North Korea's "own prior commitments." Obama had released a written statement chastising the North Koreans in the early morning hours of Monday.
In his statement in the White House Rose Garden, he noted that the latest tests had drawn scorn around the world. Pyongyang's actions "have flown in the face of U.N. resolutions" and had deepened its isolation, he said, "inviting stronger international pressure."
"North Korea will not find security and respect through threats and illegal weapons," the president said. "We will work with our friends and allies to stand up to this behavior. The United States will never waver from our determination to protect our people and the peace and security of the world."
I just don't see the North Koreans paying much attention to these threats. With troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States is hardly in the position to invade, and making an airstrike seems unlikely as well. The sanctions are about as deep as you can get already, and the Kim Jong-il regime has dealt with it. He seems to have no compunction against mass starvation of his own people. The nuclear explosion triggered an earthquake in the country, suggesting that the North Koreans don't exactly care about the safety and security of their own people. I don't see a lot of options here. The North Koreans historically have sought headlines rather than peace or stability. They are the screaming baby in the corner demanding attention. It's unclear what they want after that attention is paid.
What this does show is the need for a robust nonproliferation program. The President's seriousness about this is a hopeful sign, but that does little for the situation at hand.