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North Korea – Fears of a Regional Arms Race

Published on: April 19th 2009 17:12:56

Speaking only hours after North Korea launched a multistage rocket on April 5th, drawing new international concern and condemnation, President Obama spoke in Prague vowing to pursue the elimination of nuclear weapons. Despite public statements by US officials calling for swift punishment of North Korea, the UN Security Council has yet to act. The stalemate at UN Headquarters is turning into an early test of the Obama Administration’s multilateralism. With China and Russia resisting a draft Security Council resolution that would at a minimum enforce military and financial sanctions on North Korea and the US and Japan differing over whether to specify those who would be targeted by any new economic sanctions, no resolution appears in sight. While experts remain divided on whether the test demonstrated any new capacity in building a long-range missile, Tokyo is becoming increasingly alarmed by the mild reaction in Washington. Pyongyang’s latest technological progress has motivated Japan to reassess their need for nuclear capabilities. With a regional arms race in sight, US officials have become ever more motivated to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table. Driven by the intrinsic need to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear program as well as the necessity to discourage Japan and South Korea from following suit, this issue has attained top priority in political circles in Washington. A State Department official familiar with this issue told us: “There has to be a balance and focus for us between Beijing and Tokyo. Also we need an Ambassador in Japan asap. Harvard’s Joe Nye is the White House favorite. North Korea is a dynamic problem that needs immediate attention.”

 

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