By Pradyut Hande:
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has gradually become the international community’s Pariah for multiple reasons over the years. In its well chronicled endeavour at pursuing its own interests, North Korea’s reigning elite have seen their country being relegated to the status of a “rogue state”. The single minded dedication with which it continues to pursue its enhanced militarisation and “nuclearisation” agenda at the cost of – one, justifiably incurring the wrath of the global community and – two, its own socio-economic, political and civic progression; especially relative to that of the entire region – hasn’t done its cause any good. The fact that it continues to stand steadfast in its desire to embrace an overtly bellicose, pugnacious, irreverent and insular approach; despite its plummeting international standing; is a matter of grave concern.
At a time when it is already being subjected to sanctions by the UN, in response to launching long-range rockets, North Korea has clearly announced its intentions of carrying out its third nuclear test in the near future. Its first two major tests were conducted underground in 2006 and 2009; actions that were widely condemned. In an overt act of incontrovertible defiance, they have also declared that their long-range rockets are designed to not only carry “peaceful satellites” but also warheads capable of striking the USA; “the sworn enemy of the Korean people”. This has once again drawn sharp criticism from the UN and the international community at large.
The UN is of the strong opinion that imposing stricter sanctions on the State will “concretely impede the development of North Korea’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) programme“. Consequently, it has already passed a resolution that imposes new sanctions on a few reputed North Korean companies, its space agency and a bank. However, the UN doesn’t appear to realise that these sanctions haven’t exactly deterred North Korea from pursuing their agenda; both overt and covert. The sheer “blanket belligerence” and “blinkered irresponsibility” with which it continues to flout international conventions, violate UN warnings and ignore global calls for accountability is tragic. Diplomacy is clearly not their forte. However, one would have thought that with the advent of time; a marginally progressive, collaborative and tolerant mindset may have evolved within the Country’s leadership. That is certainly wishful thinking at this point in time. The DPRK may officially have a new, youthful Leader in Kim Jong-Un, but even a marginal alteration in ideology is far from forthcoming. The UN ought to realise that wide ranging sanctions are unlikely to compel them to shed their garb of defiance and recalcitrance.
At the other end of the spectrum, North Korea, for once, ought to soften its confrontational and antagonistic stance. Developing a powerful nuclear deterrent against the USA and its other “enemies” is one thing. But to dedicate such massive monetary and non-monetary resources towards accomplishing a single objective is inimical to its long term interests. They must realise that their present “developmental trajectory” is not only alienating North Korea from the World, but also its very own people; innocent victims of a stunted ideology, gross economic mismanagement, social oppression and disastrous policy formulation. Striving for self-sufficiency is indeed a noble pursuit. However, in an increasingly integrated global atmosphere, North Korea would be better served if it gradually opened its doors to foreign collaboration at multiple levels. Sustained dialogue with ample elbow room for a compromise is the need of the hour. Phased international scrutiny of its nuclear arsenal and plans would also assuage growing global concern to some extent. However, that is a plausible avenue that can be ventured down only when a sufficient level of multi-lateral engagement has been undertaken.
The Korean War may have ended in 1953, but clearly the Country is in no mood to let bygones be bygones. “Settling accounts with the US needs to be done force, not with words.” said North Korea’s National Defence Commission; indicative of the roiling angst that they continue to harbour against the USA and its allies. Their latest announcement, reaffirming their belief in their nuclear programme does not augur well for any of the stakeholders involved. At a time when the clarion call for nuclear disarmament has been sounded across the globe, “rogue states” such as the DPRK and Iran, continue to rub the international community the wrong way with their respective attempts at “nuclearisation”.
The USA’s fragile relationship with North Korea has always been one akin to a tight rope walk. The abject failure of a majority of the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) undertaken by various administrations over the years has been a cause for concern. North Korea’s reluctance to cede any strategic or ideological ground during the same period has not facilitated the solution developing process. Deferring a purported nuclear test in the coming future and adopting a markedly more receptive approach ought to go some way in aiding the de-escalation of the mounting cross-regional tension.
The next few months promise to be critical to the volatile future of the Korean Peninsula.
About the author: The Writer is a Business student with a degree from NMIMS, Mumbai. He is presently working as a Senior Executive with a leading Public Relations firm in Mumbai. Through his writing; he attempts to address myriad issues of both domestic and global consequence, ranging from Business and Economics to Geopolitics…from Sports to Arts and Culture. He has over 200 publications to his credit in some of the leading national dailies and weekly magazines across the country. He is also a keen debater, munner, quizzer, painter and amateur freestyle rapper. His other interests include Sports, Music, Reading, Travelling and Social Entrepreneurship. For his latest postings, follow his blog . To read his other posts, click here.