There is that great lyric from the Stealers Wheel’s song Stuck in the Middle with You, “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right” that makes me think it is Kim Jong-un’s favourite song to hum in the morning while his toadies judiciously part his hair down the middle. Neither China nor the United States have the gumption to do more than to vocally condemn North Korea’s continuous testing of its nascent nuclear capabilities.
The latest test by North Korea in early September, of a warhead capacity nuclear device with a 10kt capacity (that’s ‘kiloton’ not ‘karat’), raised the ire of the better part of the free world.
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, condemned the test in the strongest possible language: “I am deeply, deeply concerned and sad about this kind of continuing situation.”
This was the fifth, and largest, test of its kind by North Korea.
US President Barack Obama issued this harsh statement on the situation: “The United States condemns North Korea’s September 9 nuclear test in the strongest possible terms as a grave threat to regional security and to international peace and stability.”
The test created a significant earthquake with a magnitude of 5.3. 5.3 on the Richter Scale is within the ‘moderate’ range for an earthquake, meaning that it is felt but no significant damage is done to the region in which it originates.
China, with its typical confucian stoicism, duly (dully) noted: “The DPRK’s persisting nuclear weapon development and nuclear tests run counter to the expectations of the international community, escalate tension on the peninsula and is not conducive to the peace and stability there.”
There is a great Aussie comedy, to which I was introduced some time ago, that satirizes government bureaucracy. One of my favourite take-aways from ‘The Hollowmen‘ is the great ability of government machinery to put forward strongly worded statements that have no foreseeable impact on a crisis situation.
Poli-speak (policy speak).
Until the UN, until the United States, until China, et al, actually develop more than just an appropriate statement to chastise Kim Jong-un, North Korea will eventually develop a fully operational nuclear warhead capable of reaching other continents.
Right now, things have died down again relative to North Korea, but another nuclear test, which will likely be stronger than the last one, will stir up the pot of poli-speak across the globe. And still nothing will actually be done about managing this rogue nation.
Is there even a solution to nipping North Korea’s nuclear dreams in the bud?
Why not actually enforce an embargo? Perhaps putting that country under siege might actually stem its missile and nuclear testing. After all, how is it that North Korea keeps obtaining the capabilities and materials to conduct these and other kinds of military tests?
We may be civilized, and embargoes affect countries like Russia (to a certain extent re: Crimea), but we have no such viable impact on North Korea, so perhaps it’s time to come up with a more effective management of the North Korean issue than empty words.
In the meantime, Kim Jong-un keeps humming his tune.