From the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection: North Korea: Daily life remains a struggle
By Leong Jia Qin
North Korea’s aggressive actions towards South Korea and the US have forced the world to the edge of war. Their refusal for peace and harmony has made it near impossible for the US to negotiate and defuse tensions between the involved parties. With a new leader and renewed nuclear capabilities, North Korea holds the wild card to playing out the situation in the future, and hence greatly threatens the international peace that had been fought for so vigorously by past leaders. Hence, it is crucial that leaders of the US and the UN take North Korea’s threats seriously to prevent the precarious situation from getting out of hand.
North Korea’s nuclear capabilities have infinitely raised the stakes of a war to a whole new level. With the weapon of nuclear threats, North Korea has the ability to destroy the economies of many countries, infrastructure, innocent lives, to name a few, and the threat it now poses will not only cripple the economies of those around its region but also devastate the entire world. On April 2013, North Korea pledged to restart its Yongbyon nuclear complex that was shut down in October 2007 under an agreement with North Korea, US and four other nations, thus undermining the importance of negotiations and peace. North Korea even went on to block access to the Kaesong Industrial Complex, an important symbol of cooperation between the two countries, which houses the operations of multiple South Korean companies, and the livelihood of hundreds of South Korean workers. These actions prove the aggressive stance North Korea is taking and warns the world of the imminent, though rudimentary, threat to the world. Much effort is thus needed to defuse the tensions and hostility of North Korea’s intent but the US must firstly view the impending threat as a very real and possible hazard to the world. By doing so, appropriate actions such as negotiations or diplomatic cooperation can then be taken to defend diplomatic relations and protect the stakes of innocent countries in the world.
Additionally, North Korea’s actions have inflicted an even more severe long term hazard, which throws the world into peril. Despite the harsh mistreatment against its people, a failing economy, and fanatical misbehaviour in global conferences, North Korea’s nuclear abilities have the world bowing down to their threats and appeasing its needs. They have easily wounded the immense strength of the Western powers in its fingertips and have hence proven a solution for other extremists around the world. Even if the conflict were to end now, with all weaponry and missiles back into place and with everyone agreeing to peace in the region, North Korea’s confrontation has succeeded in spreading its aggressive message across the globe: develop nuclear power. Tyrants and extremists internationally now have the means to become a thorn to Western forces by simply developing their nuclear technologies, and they can stab the vast powers of such Western forces in the back, making them succumb to their needs and allowing them to strengthen their hold on power and secure the support of their military.
Despite such intensity and conviction, North Korea’s nuclear threat may just be a case of ‘a dog’s bark is worse than its bite’. Highly dependent on its nuclear plants for hard cash, North Korea is suffering economically and militarily and may not hold out in event of a war. North Korea’s reason for being so hostile could also purely be due to personal defence against the entire world. The US has deliberately angered the North Koreans with certain actions such as its massive military drills with Asian allies, UN Security Council sanctions, the flying of B-52 bombers across South Korea, deploying additional ground-based missile interceptors etc which are all elaborative actions against the North Koreans. Hence the North Koreans may not have the actual intention to cause a nuclear war outbreak but are only putting an act to enhance its prowess and get attention from international leaders. North Korea has also been threatening to bomb the rest of the world through since October 2012 when Kim Jong Un stepped into power, and still has not done so many months later, making their empty threats a mere say in the conflict. From this perspective, perhaps the US and its allies have good cause to ignore the North Korean threat.
Still, the potential destructive ramification of the North Korea’s nuclear threat means that the international community should not disregard it entirely. The notion of being unable to handle an attack by Western powers may force North Korea to fuel much more dangerous and powerful nuclear weapons to demolish its opposition once and for all, and hence the US and UN are held responsible for preventing that scenario from becoming real. Hence North Korea’s threats must be viewed critically.