North Korea has a dangerous and irresponsible government, there’s no doubt about that. The hopes that Kim Jong Un would be more level-headed that his loose cannon father look more and more like they’re misplaced.
Last December, multinational talks involving the United States and North Korea were derailed when Kim Jong Il died. As the power of government has transferred to his son and others, the eratic behavior that is the hallmark of negotiations with Pyongyang officials has continued.
During the testing earlier this month of its missile technology, North Korea’s demonstration flopped so badly that even the Pyongyang government, which is loathe to admit its shortcomings, had to concede that the missile launch failed. That led government officials to insinuate that they will conduct another nuclear test, apparently to show North Korea isn’t as inept militarily as the botched billion-dollar missile test showed it to be.
And with talks under way about resuming negotiations — diplomats talking about talking, as it were — in which North Korea would abandon its nuclear weapon ambitions for food aid, officials in the communist government have felt a need to do a little peacock strutting, perhaps as a negotiating ploy.
This week, North Korean officials said they would turn South Korea into ashes. Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho also asserted that the North Korean military has powerful weapons and is capable of knocking out the United States military with “a single blow.”
That comes after the April 15 parade that caught international attention because of the images of missiles that, at first blush, appeared to be capable of delivering a warhead a considerable distance from North Korea, perhaps has far as the United States.
But, not so fast.
While many experts do believe North Korea has nuclear weapons, its “show of force” is convincing many that its ability to do anything with them is being exaggerated by Pyongyang officials. Examinations of the images of the missiles show they are a mixture of liquid fuel and solid fuel parts that won’t work together. Also, the casings are too thin to handle flight, there were design differences even though all were the same “make,” and they didn’t fit on the launch vehicles.
What it all adds up to is smoke and mirrors for negotiating purposes. But there’s also little doubt that North Korea has ambitions to have nuclear weapons and to build the means to deliver them across the ocean.
Right now, the solution is still a diplomatic one. It’s in the world’s best interest to make sure it stays that way.