Monday, July 10, 2006

North Korea Situation Growing More Serious

Japan is reportedly considering a pre-emptive strike:

"If we accept that there is no other option to prevent an attack ... there is the view that attacking the launch base of the guided missiles is within the constitutional right of self-defense. We need to deepen discussion," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said.

...A Defense Agency spokeswoman, however, said Japan has no attacking weapons such as ballistic missiles that could reach North Korea. Its forces only have ground-to-air missiles and ground-to-vessel missiles, she said on condition of anonymity due to official policy.

Does this mean that Japan would consider a strike with aircraft? Presumably their military includes appropriate hardware. Meanwhile, the Chinese response may be overtaken by events:

China and Russia, both nations with veto power on the council, have voiced opposition to the measure. Kyodo News agency reported Monday, citing unnamed Chinese diplomatic sources, that China may use its veto on the Security Council to block the resolution.

Wow. They might veto the resolution. Do you sense that there's a limit to the usefulness of the United Nations? Meanwhile, a Chinese delegation is arriving in Pyongyang:

Meanwhile, a Chinese delegation including the country's top nuclear envoy — Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei — arrived in North Korea on Monday, officially to attend celebrations marking the 45th anniversary of a friendship treaty between the North and China.

But can it really be true that China can't stop North Korea from taking such dangerous actions? As I noted last week, influential figures in China have told Business Week that they can't control Kim Jong Il. And now the Assistant Secretary of State says the same:

Still, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill questioned just how influential Beijing was with the enigmatic regime.

"I must say the issue of China's influence on DPRK is one that concerns us," Hill told reporters in Tokyo. "China said to the DPRK, 'Don't fire those missiles,' but the DPRK fired them. So I think everybody, especially the Chinese, are a little bit worried about it."

If this is true, then this can't situation can't go on much longer. Neither the US, nor the Chinese or Japanese, nor the South Koreans can accept a renegade regime that can't even be controlled by their main sponsor in Beijing. If North Korea will take such provocative actions in defiance of China, can military action against them be far off?

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