Friday, October 13, 2006

But Mine Is Bigger Than Yours

This is a little disturbing.
The United States has evidence of radioactivity from a site where North Korea was suspected of conducting a nuclear weapons test, a U.S. official said Friday.

The official said the evidence is preliminary, but if it is confirmed, the United States will be in a position to confirm North Korea's claim on Monday that it successfully set off a nuclear blast for the first time.
Well, crap.
Officials emphasize the data collected are preliminary and provide no conclusive evidence about the North Korean event.

It is possible there was no radiological data. That could be the case if: the North Koreans successfully sealed the site; it was such a small detonation and so deep underground there was no escape of nuclear debris; or the test was actually conventional explosives
I'd say that's just whistling in the dark, there. We need to go forward with the assumption that not only does North Korea have the technology to create a nuclear weapon, they also have the means to create more.

Unfortunately, the situation is more complex than it appears. China will most definitely block any resolution that includes military intervention. They will also not accept any resolution that would cut off aid and food. At first I thought it had more to do with the with the balance of military might, but I think there's a simpler explanation.


It seems North Korea has threatened to relax border security in the past, and China is absolutely terrified of this. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of refugees seeking to escape DPRK would flood across the Chinese border. This is one of the reasons China has substantially upped the number of forces on their shared border. There have been relatively tiny waves of people crossing before. And usually it was followed by outbreaks of theft and occasionally murder. And China does not want to deal with that.

Japan has already imposed unilateral sanctions on its own, refusing to deal with North Korea (imports and exports) and denying its ports to DPRK vessels. The UN will need to enact something similar at the very least. Demanding search rights for all vessels would be a good addition as well to deny North Korea the ability to sell these things to other countries or groups.

Unfortunately, given the UN's track record and weak-willed resolutions, I'm not going to hold my breath.