After giving the order to launch on ICBM, North Korean
Jong-un enjoys a smoke while
progress, Dec. 12.
Only Deaf and Dumb
Miss Truth of North Korea Nukes (Daily North Korea, South Korea)
North Korea has been developing an ICBM capable of reaching America's west
coast has been around for years, so this latest launch isn't the least bit
surprising. The fact is that we've been daydreaming. ... What is the purpose of
Kim Jong-il's nuclear strategy? It is very clear. After
reaching agreement on a peace treaty with Washington, it is to break the military
alliance between South Korea and the United States."
North Korea has successfully tested their Unha-3 intercontinental
ballistic missile (ICBM).
Information that North Korea has been developing an ICBM capable
of reaching America's west coast has been around for years, so this latest
launch isn't the least bit surprising. The fact is that we've been daydreaming.
It was July 2004 when the chairman of the Committee for
Democratization of North Korea, Hwang Jang-yop, gave a lecture on the "solution of North
Korean issues." He had been invited to speak by Grand National Party
lawmaker Kwon Young-sae.
[Editor's Note: Hwang Jang-yop,
who dies in 2010, was a former professor of Kim Jong-il
at Kim Il-sung University, and a former chairman of North Korea's Supreme
People's Assembly. Having fled to South Korea in 1997, he remains the
highest-ranking defector from North Korea.]
Hwang's theory was that the Kim Jong-il
regime and the North's nuclear weapons stemmed from the same context: North
Korea's absolutist system. Consequently, the problem couldn't be addressed by
focusing on nuclear weapons, but only by entirely getting rid of that system. Hwang
said at the time, "Fighting North Korea's nuclear weapons is not like
playing with fire. It's playing with the fire's shadow."
Hwang explained that North Korea was developing ICBMs capable
of reaching the western United States. But no one believed him. The South
Korean government and mass media didn't feel the weight of Hwang's testimony. So
why are we in the situation we are today? Because the domestic political situation
in 2004 allowed it to happen.
The Roh Moo-hyun
Administration in office at the time thought the North's nuclear strategy was designed
to lead to talks with the United States - and some experts continue to believe
this. That is why, upon returning from a visit to the United States, President Roh said, "There is a point to North Korea's nuclear
It was in this atmosphere that Hwang gave his testimony on
Pyongyang's plan to, "develop an ICBM that can reach the western United
States." His views were not taken to heart. The affair came to be regarded
as a battle between conservatives and progressives. But the truth is that this
was vitally important information for the South Korean government which had
nothing to do with the ideological leanings of conservatives or progressives.
Sometimes truth is not accepted as such, and this is
certainly the case when the subject is North Korea. When we talk "facts"
about North Korean issues, people hearing them immediately make then into a
conservative or progressive issue. There are North Korea experts who like to
call Hwang Jang-yop an extreme conservative. But such
people are judging him blindly, often without having any conception of what
being extreme right or extreme left means.
It is very important for people to be informed of the "whole
truth" about problems in North Korea, and then from that point, to look for
solutions. It takes time, but there is no other way. Then if we look at Hwang's
testimony, what are the key points? There are two.
First, in the late summer of 1996, when North Korea Party
Munitions Industry Secretary JeonByung-ho
appeared at a meeting of the Party Central Committee for the first time in
ages, Hwang, who was then International Secretary, asked him "Where have you
been?" Jeon replied, "Now you don't need to
go to the trouble of buying plutonium when you go abroad. I traveled to
Pakistan and signed an agreement under which we give them missile technology in
exchange for uranium centrifuges."
Second, Jeon also said, "The
ICBM we are working on can reach the west coast of the United States. But we
still cannot be sure where it will land. Even if we aim for Los Angeles, it may
fall elsewhere. But in any case, we can hit the U.S. west coast."
So Jeon's words tell us the
following: 1) North Korea began developing a uranium enrichment program in
1996, although they didn't admit it until 2002, when U.S. Envoy James Kelly was informed;
and 2) the ICBM technology tested on Wednesday in the form of Unha-3 rocket was
already quite advanced back in 1996.
Even if the entire issue began in 1996, that was still 16
years ago. Sixteen years ago, North Korea had already made progress on an ICBM that
could reach the western United States. So we shouldn't be so surprised by the
Unha-3 that has suddenly appeared on the front pages of major newspapers.
What we should be surprised about the ignorance of some
so-called North Korea experts and politicians who still don't believe the truth.
The success of Unha-3 should surprise no one, but the ignorance within us all
Hwang passed away in October 2010, after ten years during
which all I ever heard him say was, "the South Korean government doesn't
believe us!" or "these ignorant so-called experts give me a headache."
"When I was in Pyongyang, I was distressed by the "extraordinary
genius" of Kim Jong-il,"
he said. "But today I have a headache because there are too many 'expert' geniuses."
Young know-it-all experts who behaved as if they knew that policy
toward North Korea during the Kim-Roh era was under control.
And even today within Lee Administration continue to think so.
When Hwang defected in 1997, he stated clearly, "North
Korea already possesses plutonium-based nuclear weapons, and it plans to make
more." He also mentioned ICBMs. But the "experts" didn't want to
believe him. They said North Koreans weren't capable of such things. Even
though they were forever being made fools of by North Korean strategy, they
still managed to take Pyongyang lightly.
Hwang said, "When I point at the moon, such 'experts'
tend to focus on the stars. Some don't even look in the direction I'm pointing,
preferring to criticize the dirt under my nails. They don't get the gist of what
is being said. People stand around and chat about how right they are. They only
believe what they want to believe, and only view the information they want to
see. People stuck in their own beliefs do no favors for this country. How can
the Republic of Korea move forward in this kind of atmosphere?"
If you want to know exactly what North Korea is and what it's
doing, read Hwang's books. The way to resolve the North Korea issue can be
The problem isn't that there isn't enough information available
about North Korea's nuclear strategy, but that the people implementing our
strategy haven't read exposed themselves to the right information. People
prefer to blame their ignorance on a lack of data, whereas the source of the problem
is within us.
Although the experimental Unha-3 missile was finally launched
in the Kim Jong-un era, it is an extension of Kim Jong-il's final instructions, and was launched according to
Kim Jong-il's nuclear strategy. In November of 2010,
North Korea invited U.S. nuclear scientist Siegfried
Hecker to review their enriched uranium
facilities, and the success of Unha-3 shows that they have completed another
step of that strategy.
The last two steps are re-entry and miniaturization. A third
nuclear test, which would use highly-enriched uranium, may soon reveal that
North Korea knows the basics of how to miniaturize nuclear warheads. We don't
know whether they have re-entry technology as they just haven't attempted it. But
there is some evidence.
I heard from Hwang that Professor Seo
Sang-kuk of Kim Il-sung University, where Hwang once
taught Kim Jong-il, developed
the mathematical theory for North Korea's weapons program. He graduated from a
university in Moscow and is known to be a mathematical genius. Apparently in
1980, Seo participated in a communist bloc defense
technology competition in Hungary, and while other participants proved their
points with tests, Seo proved his by writing a board
full of mathematical formulae that the audience was amazed by.
Posted by Worldmeets.US
We should expect North Korea, which has used every resource
at its disposal to develop nuclear weapons and missiles, to be ahead of South
Korea. In any case, the key to security is preparing for the worst.
What is the purpose of Kim Jong-il's
nuclear strategy? It is very clear. After reaching agreement on a peace treaty
with Washington, it is to break the military alliance between South Korea and
the United States, maintain military superiority on the Korean Peninsula, and
to receive a reliable flow of economic support from South Korea. South Korea would
become a nuclear hostage state, and pro-North factions in South Korea would move
toward unification under the North Korean regime. Whether or not this is possible,
that is their goal. This is the purpose behind the existence of the North
So then, what should we do?
North Korea's nuclear strategy is not an overnight
occurrence, and there is no silver bullet for addressing it. If Pyongyang behaves,
then it must be given bread. If not, it must be punished in cooperation with
the international community. Certainly, it is fair to punish North Korea when
they launch missiles.
The government and private sector must clearly understand
Kim Jong-il's nuclear strategy. We must no longer say
that North Korea's nuclear weapons are a tool for negotiations or a triviality.
Most importantly, in seeking to resolve the North Korean
nuclear problem, the people and government should share a similar goal. For as
long as totalitarian dictatorship exists in North Korea, the problem will
continue to worsen.
But we don't have much time. The North Korea problem must be
resolved within the next five years. Only then will we be able to offer hope to
the young. This is the only way to assure the future for the 80 million people
living on this peninsula.
*SohnGwang-joo is director of the
Daily North Korea Unification Strategy Research Institute
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