It look's like you don't have Adobe Flash Player installed. Get it now.
On Wednesday, North Korea test-fired seven missiles, leading to an emergency meeting of the U-N Security Council. KSMU's Missy Shelton sat down with Missouri State University professor Dennis Hickey to discuss the impact of North Korea's actions. Hickey's most recent book is called the Armies of East Asia: China, Taiwan, Japan and the Koreas. Here are excerpts from Missy Shelton's conversation with Dennis Hickey.
Shelton: What was your initial reaction when you heard Wednesday that North Korea had test-fired missiles?
Hickey: I was surprised that they test fired so many missiles. I was under the impression that they were only going to test fire their multi-stage, inter-continental ballistic missile, capable of reaching the U-S. But it seems they test-fired several others as well.
Shelton: So this was surprising to you. What do you think the end game is here? What are they trying to accomplish?
Hickey: North Korea is one of the most mysterious and closed society in the global community. Nobody really knows what their motivations are. Some suspect that they're trying to blackmail the west into providing the country with more aid. Others believe that they're trying to test the missiles and if they're successful, be able to market them to other rogue regimes throughout the world. They could also be using them as a source of legitimacy and national pride to boost up the regime. It could be any one or a combination of those motivations.
Shelton: How is this action going to make North Korea's neighbors feel?
Hickey: The North Korean missile program and the North Korean nuclear program is responsible for Japan helping finance the missile defense system the Americans are bringing to East Asia. At the same time, this upsets the Chinese because the Americans are bringing a missile defense system to Asia. So most of North Korea's neighbors are not very happy with this kind of move. As far as South Korea, it undermines their policy of détente or what they call the sunshine policy with North Korea but it isn't a real direct threat to them.
Shelton: The U-N Security Council is in emergency meetings...Any insight into what may come of these meetings?
Hickey: I think a number of countries including the United States are keeping their options open. Unfortunately, with countries such as the United States and Japan, there isn't a whole lot you can do because we already have sanctions in place against North Korea. With China however, it's another story. China is the largest trading partner of North Korea and props it up with oil shipments and other goods. I don't think China wants to ratchet up tensions in that region of the world anymore than necessary. After all, they are North Korea's neighbor. At the same time, China's in a tough spot here. As I mentioned, the North Koreans are bringing the missile defense to Asia. They're helping prop the Japanese to re-arm. So they're not doing the Chinese any favors. On the other hand, North Korea is still viewed as a buffer state on China's border and China doesn't want North Korea to implode or to lash out. They want stability. It's right next door. They don't want 2 million North Koreans running into their country as illegal aliens or other turmoil in the region.
Shelton: We've spent a good bit of time discussing the implications for Asia...should the U-S be fearful that North Korea has these missiles and that in fact they're testing them?
Hickey: I think it's definitely a matter for concern for the United States and all the civilized nations of the world. Someone asked me, "Well, doesn't every country have a right to have weapons that can defend them?" Well, it's not the same when you're dealing with a country like North Korea. If ever there was a country that fit the description of a rogue nation, North Korea is it. It's three largest exports are dope, counterfeit U-S dollars and weapons. So, there's a genuine concern about them having both weapons of mass destruction or the delivery systems capable of delivering these weapons. It's not the same as if a country like Thailand or a peaceful country like Canada acquired inter-continental ballistic missiles or nuclear arms.
Shelton: I've been speaking with Dennis Hickey, political science professor at Missouri State University and author of a book on the militaries in Asia, including North Korea. Join me tomorrow morning for the rest of our conversation.