The Washington Post on May 27 (“More Repercussions From N. Korean Blast”) referred to a South Korean newspaper report that U.S. spy satellites had detected steam emanating “from a reprocessing facility at North Korea's Yongbyon plant,” which apparently indicates that the nuclear reactor is operational. Regarding the armistice that North Korea is now claiming it will no longer honor, this was only a cease-fire agreement, not a peace treaty. The agreement hasn’t prevented North Korea from building up its military and pursuing nuclear weapons, so North Korea’s open disregard for the armistice is little more than admitting what has already been going on for more than half a century.
The effort to inspect ships, known as the Proliferation Security Initiative, is a voluntary arrangement agreed to by South Korea but not North Korea that's designed to prevent the transport of weapons of mass destruction. More than 90 nations have joined. The Guardian for May 27, in an articled entitled “North Korea restarts nuclear reactor and threatens to attack south,” noted how upset North Korea would be if they were caught in the act of transporting WMDs. A North Korean army spokesman said: “Any hostile act against our peaceful vessels including search and seizure will be considered an unpardonable infringement on our sovereignty and we will immediately respond with a powerful military strike.”
In a sense, North Korea is right; any search and seizure of its naval vessels would infringe on its national sovereignty. But to the degree that North Korea has ever accepted international aid in return for holding off on its nuclear program, it was supposedly accepting an infringement on its sovereignty. Now that the communist dictatorship in Pyongyang has proven beyond a shadow of doubt that they never really did accept any limits to their nuclear program, a declaration of its objection to sovereignty-infringing actions is once again merely stating the obvious.
What may not be so obvious is the way all the furor over North Korea’s nuclear capabilities is serving only to strengthen the United Nations and other international institutions at the expense of U.S. sovereignty. As the Obama administration seeks to work through the UN and international arrangements such as the Proliferation Security Initiative, it is carrying out a policy first proposed to the United Nations in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. Titled Freedom From War: The United States Program for General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World (also known as State Department Publication 7277), this incremental disarmament policy seeks to reach a stage when “progressive controlled disarmament and continuously developing principles and procedures of international law would proceed to a point where no state would have the military power to challenge the progressively strengthened U.N. Peace Force.”
The UN does not now possess this level of power, but if the United States continues to seek international solutions to challenges like North Korea’s nuclear capability, it will only serve to make the UN more unchallengeable in the long run.
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