North Korea Nuclear Program Poses Global Challenges
“The US cannot solve this problem alone. However, in order to take steps that could fundamentally affect the North Korean leadership and its decision-making, we need to work even more closely with our allies in the region who feel this threat acutely. I would urge China, in particular, to intensify its leadership role in helping to solve the crisis,” Nunn says with regard to North Korea’s program.
China Will Play Key Role In North Korea Negotiations
In response to North Korea’s decision to go ahead with another nuclear weapons test, Australia announced plans to cancel a scheduled visit by North Korean diplomats. Meanwhile, South Korea opted for a military alternative by deploying a new cruise missile capable of a precision strike on high-ranking members of Pyongyang’s government.
The nuclear tests may be causing some discomfort for China, Harvard University professor Keith Richburg writes in The New Republic that it is unlikely to result in a break in a longstanding relationship.
“So one can safely expect somewhat chillier relations between China and North Korea. And maybe even some more publicly blunt talk. But a full break seems unlikely; the ties of memory and sentimentality among the elite of both countries are still too deep for that,” Richburg asserts.
As symbolically important as US assertions it would take the lead in dealing with North Korea, the reality may be that China that holds the key to preventing North Korea from taking more strides toward a nuclear showdown.
“Moving forward, China really holds the key to what extent the actions will be different this time,” Suzanne DiMaggio, an expert at the Asia Society, tells The New York Times.
This belief is also expressed on the editorial page of London’s Daily Telegraph, which argues the “only realistic opportunity of heading off a potentially disastrous confrontation lies with China” because “North Korea could not survive without Chinese support.
International Sanctions So Far Have Failed To Slow North Korea
Efforts to cull the nuclear ambitions of the rogue nation through the imposition of sanctions by the United Nations also have failed to yield the desired results. As Foreign Policy magazine notes, “The U.N. Security Council first called on North Korea to rein in its nuclear ambitions in 1993; more than a decade later, in 2006, it imposed its first round of sanctions to compel Pyongyang to freeze its nuclear and ballistic missile tests.”
“Pyongyang demonstrated once again this week it has no intention to heed those threats,” adds the magazine.
Regional Response Complicated By Ancillary Issues
As difficult as it has been to form a coalition of the willing to enforce sanctions on either Iran or North Korea, relations among nations in Asia are complicating any comprehensive, united response to North Korea’s hostilities.
Japan and China currently are engaged in a territorial dispute, while China, the Philippines, and Thailand are at odds over access to the South China Sea
North Korea Not The Only Nuclear Concern
Efforts to slow Iran’s nuclear weapons stalled again as talks with the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA) broke down before an agreement for greater access to Iranian sites could be reached. Iran recently disclosed that it has started installing a new generation of machines for enriching uranium.