Join hands to avert a nuclear showdown
The Japanese Prime Minister had hardly finished talking to Narendra Modi on the North Korean threat to his country when Kim Jong-un launched another of his missiles on Friday whose flight path was over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Like an obese kid with an outsized toy, Mr Kim is pushing his luck to see how much he can needle the West even as the latter piles on trade sanctions in retaliation. Mr Kim’s isolated country has been trying to develop a long-range missile capable first of reaching Guam, the naval base in the Pacific, and then the US itself. Helped in his endeavours by his chief patron China and a sneaky Pakistan, which had slipped in nuclear technology, North Korea is ensuring that its fate won’t be that of Iraq, which was invaded for the “weapons of mass destruction” it had supposedly possessed during the Saddam Hussein regime.
In its ties with North Korea, China is thought to be capable of rocking the cradle and pinching the child. In its responses, the US has been fuelled by the strong rhetoric of Donald Trump who promises to vapourise a country that is posing threats. His officials strike a more cautious pose, looking at ways of bringing to the negotiating table Mr Kim whose friendship with a US basketball star adds a bizarre counterpoint to the talk of war. Meanwhile, sanctions are hardly causing a ripple as China and Russia refused to heed calls for tightening trade and North Korea finds ways to smuggle goods in to fill its needs. In any case, sanctions only hit the poorest as the most disadvantaged die of starvation if essentials don’t reach them thanks to the restrictions on trade. North Korea’s growing GDP, based on rising domestic demand, means sanctions have a lesser impact.
The countries nearest to the missile threat like South Korea and Japan are feeling the heat. With the Korean War never having been settled by a peace treaty, the South feels obliged to launch missile test of its own while asking to get the restrictions waived so it can prepare an arsenal capable of replying to the threat from the North. A nuclear showdown is not what the world needs in the 21st century, but how do you tell that to a dictator who is determined to retaliate with incremental improvements in the flight range capabilities of his missiles? He also blasts an occasional thermonuclear device to serve a reminder of his country’s prowess.
History would suggest diplomacy is the only way to avert the ultimate confrontation of war and all countries, most of all India, should make the effort to give peace a chance to save the world. Neither Mr Kim nor the White House occupant seems capable of anything but brinkmanship, in word and deed. The rest of the world is busy fending off terrorism as a threat to its way of life in the modern era. There is good reason to fear for the world when the terror of technology is stronger than that of dictators or soldiers.
History would suggest diplomacy is the only way to avert the ultimate confrontation of war and all countries, most of all India, should make the effort to give peace a chance to save the world