It look's like you don't have Adobe Flash Player installed. Get it now.
North Korea carried out an underground nuclear test Monday, prompting criticism from world leaders, including President Barack Obama who condemned the action. KSMU’s Missy Shelton discusses the situation with a political science professor.
Shelton: Joining me in the studio is Dr. Dennis Hickey, Missouri State political science professor and author of four books on foreign policy between the US and Taiwan and other Asian countries. First, many people are wondering why the North Koreans decided to do this nuclear test now.
Hickey:I don’t believe anybody really can pry open the black box that constitutes North Korea and look in there and figure out what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. But some people speculate this might be an effort to extract more concessions, meaning more money and assistance. Others have speculated there could be some sort of a power struggle or unstable situation in North Korea. We don’t really know. The leader of North Korea, Mr. Kim has not been seen much in public for the last several months. There are rumors that he’s ill. And of course, it could just be a reaction, a temper tantrum if you will to the international response and the UN response to the missile test that they conducted in April, after which the UN criticized them, placed some sort of sanctions on them and North Korea was quite upset about that.
Shelton: Following the test on Monday, there was worldwide condemnation. But at what point do countries say, “Ok. This is enough. We’re going to try to really send a signal.”
Hickey: The trouble with North Korea is that it’s one of the most isolated states in the world. You’re not dealing with an economic power house or anyone you can get at really easily so we don’t have a lot of cards to play. This issue of course, politicians in America try to make political gain out of it but it ratcheted up in 1994 under the Clinton Administration. The Bush Administration tried to deal with it with the 6 party talks. North Korea pulled out of the talks in April, saying they’ll never come back but we suspect they might come back. But there isn’t a whole lot we can do. I have students write policy papers where they provide options. I’ve had some very militaristic students look at this issue and then come to the conclusion that there isn’t a whole lot we can do to push these people in one direction or another. Some folks say we could invade North Korea. But it would be an unbelievable conflict. We don’t know where the missiles are. You can’t have surgical strikes. We don’t know where they have their nukes. They have 50,000 tons of chemical/biological weapons. They’d lash out take out Okinawa, South Korea, Japan. It would be a major, World War II style conflict. So the military option isn’t there. You look at diplomacy. They don’t seem to react well to that. Anytime you criticize them, they claim it’s an act of war. We don’t really sell them much. We provide them with some assistance. T he Chinese provide them with some assistance and cut it off once in a while. The policy has been just muddling through, seeing where this regime of Kim Jong Il is going to go. Maybe he’s going to pass away and someone more reasonable will take over. That’s basically what we’ve been doing for this administration, the last administration and the administration before that.
Shelton: What do you think will happen next?
Hickey: I think that not all countries are using the phrase “condemning North Korea.” China expressed its displeasure and dismay, leaving open the door that maybe they’ll come back to the 6 party talks. But I think just about every party concerned, the 6 parties, Japan, South Korea, America, Russia, China, they really don’t know how this is going to unravel in the future and what the next step is. There will be more saber-rattling on North Korea’s part, some criticism from the United Nations and people will have to see where this goes from here.
Shelton: So, more muddling through.
Hickey: More muddling through, I do think.
Shelton: Thank you.
Hickey: My pleasure.