Yesterday, my friends Jeff & Lee at KKMS Radio asked me what would happen next in North Korea, which had dropped off the radar screen for the most part during the Iranian uprising. I predicted that the attention-seeking dictator Kim Jong-Il would shortly make a wild threat in order to get some media attention. Right on time:
North Korea vowed Thursday to enlarge its atomic arsenal and warned of a “fire shower of nuclear retaliation” in the event of a U.S. attack, as the regime marked the 1950 outbreak of the Korean War.
The anniversary came as the U.S. Navy followed a North Korean ship suspected of carrying weapons in violation of a U.N. resolution punishing Pyongyang’s May 25 nuclear test, and as anticipation mounted that the North might test-fire short- or mid-range missiles in the coming days. …
State-run newspapers in Pyongyang ran lengthy editorials accusing the U.S. of invading the country in 1950 and of looking for an opportunity to attack again. The editorials said those actions justified North Korea’s development of atomic bombs to defend itself.
The North “will never give up its nuclear deterrent … and will further strengthen it” as long as Washington remains hostile, Pyongyang’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.
In a separate commentary, the paper blasted a recent U.S. pledge to defend South Korea with its nuclear weapons, saying that amounted to “asking for the calamitous situation of having a fire shower of nuclear retaliation all over South Korea.”
Has there ever been a dictator with such a need for global attention? Kim acts like a spoiled child, throwing tantrums as a means to get concessions. Parents can teach their children to stop throwing tantrums by ignoring them, but unfortunately that doesn’t work with nuclear-armed dictators.
The US continues to follow the North Korean ship, the Kang Nam, apparently on its way to Burma. The US and other nations believe that the Kang Nam carries missile parts, a violation of UN sanctions. As yet, though, no one has decided to intercept the ship before it gets to its destination. Kim has warned that he would consider such interdictions an act of war, and if the US risks that kind of response, they had better find something of interest when they do. A cargo of minerals would still be a violation of sanctions, but it would embarrass the US and its allies. The ship may have to dock in Hong Kong for refueling, and I suspect that the US will try something a little more covert first.
Meanwhile, Kim still plans his missile tests for the 4th of July. He has declared a “no-sail” zone around the Korean peninsula for “military drills,” but people widely expect that he’s clearing the area to launch short- and medium-range missiles. This would be another UN violation, which will result in a strongly-worded memo from the UN, which will result in another temper tantrum from Kim. He has this down to a science.
Update: Comments somehow got disabled on this post; I’ve re-enabled them. Sorry about that.