Hmmm. 'Nuclear documents'.....
March 8, 2003 8:09 AM   Subscribe

US Lets N. Korea Get Nuclear Data (Boston Globe) "Transfer Pact Stays in Effect: WASHINGTON - The Bush administration has not suspended or revoked the authority of Westinghouse Co. to transfer documents related to nuclear technology to North Korea, despite the fact that the Asian nation has admitted that it violated terms of a nonproliferation agreement it signed with Washington in 1994, US Department of Energy documents show."
posted by troutfishing (43 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
i'm really confused why we're passively letting n.k. lob missiles into the pacific and build up its nuclear arsenal ... while we're raising such a stink about ... etc ... etc.
posted by donkeyschlong at 8:17 AM on March 8, 2003


donkeyscholong: So are you suggesting an all out invasion of North Korea?

As to the article, we don't know what documents have been passed or what they are for. Until some details are known, it is too early to speculate.
posted by Plunge at 8:54 AM on March 8, 2003


I agree. And to share opinion in detail would milk far too much space in comments for me to post about it.

But this contradiction has weighed so heavily on not only my own noggin', but on virtually all those I know, that it's unimaginable the contradictions aren't addressed more aggressively.

When the Pentagon announced this past tuesday that, "The deployment order for the bombers had long been planned and is not related to last weekend's intercept of an Air Force reconnaissance plane over the Sea of Japan by four North Korean MiG fighters," I was overwhelmed at that one contradiction, of many, in tuesday's briefing.

So....that is to say (???) we're randomly deploying dozens of bombers to a nation we don't officially consider a threat, yet are doing so as "a prudent measure to bolster our defensive posture and as a deterrent....seeking a peaceful, diplomatic resolution"?!

As donkeyshlong stated, I also am confused as to why we're passively letting this occur whilst raising the stink of dung elsewhere.
posted by bluedaniel at 8:54 AM on March 8, 2003


(my comment posted following Plunge. my agreement was with ds. apologies on advance for any confusion. and no, not thinking of an invasion on my opinion).
posted by bluedaniel at 8:56 AM on March 8, 2003


the story says what the docs are...come on folks. THINK.
posted by clavdivs at 9:19 AM on March 8, 2003


This article says the agreement was extended in May 2001. Excuse me, but wasn't that BEFORE north korea admitted a renewed nuclear weapons program?
posted by reverendX at 9:24 AM on March 8, 2003


There are several differences, the biggest being that Saddam is trying to get nuclear weapons where as North Korea has them.

Also N. Korea is trying to blackmail the US with saber rattling, Bush is calling his bluff (You cross this line, you die... Cross THIS line, you die... OK, this line... You knock on my door I not come out. Pbbbbt!).
posted by Mick at 9:24 AM on March 8, 2003


Until our vehicles begin running on kimchi and weird politics, Pyongyang has little hope of invoking Dubya's ire.
posted by psychoticreaction at 9:50 AM on March 8, 2003


This article says the agreement was extended in May 2001. Excuse me, but wasn't that BEFORE north korea admitted a renewed nuclear weapons program?

But maybe not before we knew about it. According to Josh Marshall recently, Clinton administration officials got intelligence about the NK's clandestine uranium enrichment program back in 2000 and briefed the incoming Bush administration on it at the beginning of 2001.
posted by homunculus at 10:35 AM on March 8, 2003


Beinart's latest: "On the subject of North Korea, there are two groups of people in Washington today: People who are terrified, and people who aren't paying attention. Unfortunately, the latter category seems to include the president of the United States."

But here's a hopeful note from the Times of India: "China on Thursday said North Korea has expressed its readiness to accept US inspections on its alleged nuclear programme so as to end the worsening Pyongyang-Washington stand-off." I hope this is followed through on, though I wouldn't be suprised if NK was just jerking the Chinese around too.
posted by homunculus at 10:53 AM on March 8, 2003


To understand what's going on in North Korea it is necessary to understand the important distinctions between uranium and plutonium. It is not clear that the Bush administration grasps this in their knee-jerk "opposite of Clinton" foreign policy.

Naturally occurring uranium ore is relatively plentiful. However less than 1% of naturally occurring uranium is the useful isotope U235. The rest is U238 which has three more neutrons in its nucleus that help to stabilize it and prevent its use in nuclear reactions. For nuclear reactors the proportion of U235 must be enriched from about 0.7% to 3%. For use in nuclear weapons, U235 must be enriched to better than 90%. And therein lies the problem. It is extremely difficult to enrich uranium by isolating U235. To all chemical processes U235 and U238 behave identically, meaning they can't be separated by any solvent or reaction with another chemical. The only way to separate them is by physical processes depending on the 1% weight difference between atoms of U238 and U235. But any attempt at separation is a battle against the laws of thermodynamics -- the isotopes want to remain randomly mixed. The most common method for enrichment is the use of gas centrifuges. These centrifuges are technically difficult to make, very expensive to run and have a very low output rate. They must spin at 50,000 RPM and it requires hundreds running in parallel for months to make a small amount of enriched U235. A typical centrifuge plant will be the size of a football stadium and consume the electricity to power a medium sized city. You can't hide a full-blown uranium enrichment plant. Lacking these resources North Korea may have been running just a few centrifuges for 10 years or more to produce enough U235 for perhaps one weapon.

Compare this to plutonium. Plutonium is not a naturally occurring element. It is produced in nuclear reactors by converting non-fissile U238 to Pu239. Plutonium is chemically different from uranium and is easily separated using chemical processes. It requires a specially designed and operated breeder reactor with the efficiency to make more plutonium than the amount of U235 fuel consumed, but once you start the process, you can crank out weapons grade Pu239 from the plentiful U238 as easily as muffins.

The key difference is that U235 is extremely difficult and energy intensive to isolate, but plutonium is relatively easy to generate in large amounts once you construct a breeder reactor.

The second major difference between U235 and Pu239 is their natural radioactivity. Plutonium is relatively safe to handle. Its primary radioactive emissions are alpha particles, which are helium nuclei. Alpha particles can be stopped by a sheet of paper. You could hold a lump of plutonium in the palm of your hand and be protected by your outer layer of skin. (Grinding it up to micron size and inhaling it is a different matter and still it would take years for the cancer to kill you). U235 on the other hand emits mostly gamma rays which are like very intense X-rays. U235 is so deadly that if you were to come across a lump of it, you would get a lethal dose in the time it would take to bend over, pick it up and put it in a lead container. You would be dead within hours. Gamma radiation can penetrate almost everything except lead and concrete. It is extremely difficult to build a U235 weapon because you need to do everything in a shielded room with remote actuators while peering through tiny foot-thick leaded glass portholes. You can't use electronic assistance like TV cameras or robots to help you because the gamma radiation will fry it. The metal has to be machined to a mirror smooth precision without ever getting near it. Even if you can manage to assemble the weapon, it must be shielded with lead, which makes it too heavy to put on any practical missile. A plutonium weapon on the other hand could be assembled in your basement with some readily available machine tools. (Plutonium does have the tendency to cause a heat reaction if exposed to the atmosphere so it is usually stored in an inert gas container or coated with beryllium.) The point is that any terrorist group could put together a Pu239 bomb in a Manhattan garage while a U235 bomb requires a sophisticated, expensive government project.

Lastly, plutonium, because of its lower radioactivity is easy to smuggle. You could check it in your baggage at the airport or carry it in your briefcase (if you had a strong arm -- a sphere the size of a softball would weigh over 20 pounds). U235 would have to be shielded in hundreds of pounds of lead or concrete making it hard to transport. Even when shielded, U235 is relatively easy to detect because of its gamma radiation.

The bottom line is that while U235 is bad, Pu239 is a hundred times worse. U235 is extremely difficult to isolate, limiting the quantities available. Pu239 can be created relatively easily in large quantities. U235 is deadly to handle while Pu239 is relatively safe, meaning anyone can make a weapon with it. U235 is difficult to smuggle while Pu239 is as easy to smuggle as BC bud.

The Clinton strategy was to provide some aid to North Korea and conventional nuclear power plants in exchange for their promise to keep out of the large scale weapon business. This allowed the US inspectors to keep an eye on things. This strategy worked for 10 years although the Koreans may have cheated somewhat and scraped together a little U235 over the years. No one knows for sure. It is unlikely they have much or they would have demonstrated their capabilities by now like India and Pakistan. If you only have one, you can't afford to test it. When the Bush administration cut off negotiations and strutted out its preemptive strike doctrine, the Koreans decided their only option was to crank up a plutonium program. This is an enormous change in policy with radical implications. Now they are able to make dozens of nuclear weapons. Not only that, with the cut in foreign aid and the government strapped for cash, they will have plenty of plutonium left over to sell to the highest bidder. And since it is so easy to smuggle, there is no way to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons material to any tinpot dictator or terrorist group with a few million dollars of spare change. The Bush no-negotiation strategy and aggressive posture has made the world a much more dangerous place and marching into Iraq will do diddly squat about it. If anything it will demonstrate that those that have nuclear weapons will be ignored.
posted by JackFlash at 1:35 PM on March 8, 2003 [1 favorite]


JackFlash - That was one hell of long, fantastically informative post. Thank you sir. I only wish that you could give the same lecture on national TV.
posted by troutfishing at 2:06 PM on March 8, 2003


It is not clear that the Bush administration grasps this in their knee-jerk "opposite of Clinton" foreign policy.

The article more than implied the Bush admin has actually stuck to the Clinton policy, and that's as big a component of the problem as their swagger (which is, in fact, a problem).

But I take no other issue with an otherwise remarkably informative post. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be setting up a machine shop in my backyard...

i'm really confused why we're passively letting n.k. lob missiles into the pacific and build up its nuclear arsenal ... while we're raising such a stink about ... etc ... etc

Because the North Koreans actually have some formidable military force. Could us Americans take 'em? Of course. Would it cost lots of American lives and more South Korean lives? Yes. Would it complicate our already complicated relationships with Asia in general? Yes.

Iraq: easy target. Nobody likes them. No SK-like allies to get hurt except Israel, and unlike NK, Iraq doesn't already have 30,000+ pieces of artillery massed on his borders ready to fire.
The only thing keeping the U.S. from actually doing the job is the fact that we've made the world very, very nervous with our swagger.

Translations: "Iraq is our top threat" => Iraq is actually not a big threat, we can the govt down in a fortnight, but we have strategic interests there.
"North Korea is a threat, but diplomacy will work" => they are a far more formidable problem, and also, we have fewer strategic interests there, so diplomacy remains the dominant strategy at the moment.
posted by namespan at 3:12 PM on March 8, 2003


There has never been an easy solution to North Korea. For nearly 50 years North Korea has has the ability to lob 10,000 artillery shells a minute, over 5 million a day, from hardened emplacements into downtown Seoul. It doesn't matter whether they have a nuclear bomb or not, there is no military solution that wouldn't result in the annihilation of both North and South Korea. So the only possibility is to negotiate to try to stabilize the situation which is what Clinton accomplished. There had been a substantial thaw in north/south relations in the past 10 years. President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea won the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize for his reconciliation work with North Korea. The hope was that was within 10 years, 20 years, whatever, the Korean tinderbox would dissipate in a common desire for reunification ala Germany 1990. This has all been put in jeopardy now by the Bush's naive "evil axis" stance and threats of preemptive strike, resulting not only in the destabilization of Korea and a stall in reconciliation talks, but more importantly, plutonium production and the proliferation of nuclear weapons to terrorists around the globe.
posted by JackFlash at 3:54 PM on March 8, 2003


JackFlash: That was a class act, sir.
posted by niceness at 4:38 PM on March 8, 2003


President Kim Dae-jung of South Korea won the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize for his reconciliation work with North Korea.

Don't even get me started on that snide joke/bribe on the world.

This has all been put in jeopardy now by the Bush's naive "evil axis" stance and threats of preemptive strike

Funny that you choose to blame Bush for speaking the truth, and not the North Koreans for being evil lying bastards. Are you South Korean?

Bush didn't kick the inspectors out of North Korea, destroy monitoring devices, or attack South Koreans constantly. Oh. Right, that was North Korea.

Please don't try to blame a totalitarian dictatorship's decision to sell weapons to other despotic regimes on the only country who has guaranteed peace in the region, because that would just be like marching for communism.
posted by hama7 at 4:51 PM on March 8, 2003


hama7- you seem to be in vast minority of south koreans, experts on the north korean issue, and citizens of the globe applauding george bush's handling of the north korean issue.

jackflash - thank you for one of the better posts i have seen on metafilter and the web in general in recent memory.
posted by specialk420 at 5:59 PM on March 8, 2003


Nowhere did I defend the North Korean actions, I just stated the obvious fact that poking a hornets nest with a sharp stick is juvenile behavior and irresponsible considering the dire consequences.

Bush didn't kick the inspectors out of North Korea, destroy monitoring devices, or attack South Koreans constantly. Oh. Right, that was North Korea.
All of which happened after Bush threatened them with a preemptive strike. Things used to be relatively stable in Korea and now they have taken a very dangerous turn for the entire world, not just South Korea.
posted by JackFlash at 6:13 PM on March 8, 2003


All of which happened after Bush threatened them with a preemptive strike.

That is just fabulously inaccurate. North Koreans have a long, colorful history of kidnapping, terrorism and subterfuge which goes back several decades.

To claim otherwise is to either be purposefully deceitful in factual distortion, or to be blissfully ignorant of history.

I know that some people can manage to blame Bush if the wind changes or they get a hangnail, but North Korea can demonize itself quite well without any help.
posted by hama7 at 6:36 PM on March 8, 2003


Also, "things" have never been "stable" in South Korea, which is still at war with an insane, totalitarian, desperate, murderous dictatorship. Ignoring a half-century problem by tossing money at it and calling it "stable" is denial.
posted by hama7 at 6:41 PM on March 8, 2003


"Families of Japanese Abducted by North Korea Make Plea"
posted by hama7 at 7:42 PM on March 8, 2003


JackFlash, that had to be the single most informative article I've yet read anywhere on the topic, in print or on the web. Thank you.
posted by bluedaniel at 9:36 PM on March 8, 2003


If JackFlash's post is so informative, I am shocked at how underinformed people are.
posted by smackfu at 9:50 PM on March 8, 2003


smackfu - On the differences between U235, U238, and Pu239? This is common knowledge, the stuff of 'People' magazine? Or the minutae of refining U238 into U235? Or of Fast, 'breeder' reactors? Or the comparative difficulties of weaponizing U235 and Pu239?.......not the fabled, obscure arcana of lead-into-gold alchemical transformations, yes - but surely not 'common'.
posted by troutfishing at 10:09 PM on March 8, 2003


To add just a bit here.

People need to remember that North Korea only shut down their reactor after the Clinton deal in 94, they didn't stop their nuclear program.

There has been evidence before 2000 of their activities, including suspicision of an underground nuclear test in 1995. A major defector from Korea denied the test, but did tell of their nuclear programs.

The Clinton strategy was to provide some aid to North Korea and conventional nuclear power plants in exchange for their promise to keep out of the large scale weapon business. This allowed the US inspectors to keep an eye on things. This strategy worked for 10 years although the Koreans may have cheated somewhat and scraped together a little U235 over the years. No one knows for sure. It is unlikely they have much or they would have demonstrated their capabilities by now like India and Pakistan.

All the 1994 agreement did was give something for the North Koreans to hide behind, it solved nothing, just extended the problem.

Some other interesting articles.
posted by Plunge at 10:36 PM on March 8, 2003


If JackFlash's post is so informative, I am shocked at how underinformed people are.

No, I seriously doubt the details concerning U235, U238, and Pu239 or the specific comparisons and diffculties involved in nuclear reactions is common household knowledge.

Forgive my ignorance, but no - I for one was not aware of some of those details indicated in that post.
posted by bluedaniel at 12:08 AM on March 9, 2003


That is just fabulously inaccurate. North Koreans have a long, colorful history of kidnapping, terrorism and subterfuge which goes back several decades.

? huh ?
posted by specialk420 at 12:40 AM on March 9, 2003


jackflash - thank you for one of the better posts i have seen on metafilter and the web in general in recent memory.

Except for the minor point that it began with a laughably incorrect assertion - 'To understand what's going on in North Korea it is necessary to understand the important distinctions between uranium and plutonium' - and went from there. What complete bollocks. Like clavdivs said : think!

For once, I'm with hama7 on this, if for different reasons. JackFlash's post was fine and all, but facile, and not really deserving of the fanboy praise you folks are lavishing on it. Self-link for more background, if you're so inclined.

Oh, and much as I despise America, I'm forced to admit it's actually not entirely their fault this time! How d'ya like them apples!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:33 AM on March 9, 2003


Oh, and much as I despise America, I'm forced to admit it's actually not entirely their fault this time! How d'ya like them apples!

From reading your self-link, its hard to think you blame anyone but the US for the problems.

For what its worth, I left an answer to your statements there.
posted by Plunge at 7:14 AM on March 9, 2003


JackFlash,

great posts, thanks. when hama7 finally manages to have you kidnapped and sent to Guantanamo, be sure that your MeFi friends will miss your commie, terrorist ass. and maybe you'll be allowed to hang a pancake photo in your cage, who knows.
posted by matteo at 8:11 AM on March 9, 2003


It's interesting that those who are more intimately aquainted with Korea, despite our diverse political leanings, uniformly dismiss JackFlash's post as it pertains to the Korean situation. Those being hama7, stavosthewonderchicken and me. Those praising it being part of the unwashed masses ignorant to the North Korean situation except in a cursory manner.

Just an idle observation...
posted by Plunge at 9:08 AM on March 9, 2003


The Clinton strategy was to provide some aid to North Korea and conventional nuclear power plants in exchange for their promise to keep out of the large scale weapon business.

the gist of this "strategy" is called appeasement. It was done before him, it is still being done, and will most likely happen again...but not on the Korean Nuclear issue, those days are gone and this is what makes people nervous.


the Koreans decided their only option was to crank up a plutonium program.
that is not the only option, i would venture that is NK's "showcase" option, their "Cannes" of the nuclear toughguy stance.

When the Bush administration cut off negotiations and strutted out its preemptive strike

ROKs' intelligence (ANSP i believe) estimates that NK will have as many of 28 tunnels (from the north into the south) by 2003, this year. What is the purpose of these tunnels...a preemptive strike. These tunnels could funnel NK's 8th special operations group, one of the worlds largest special ops force, 22 brigades, 7 independent battalions thats about 80,000 men.

they will have plenty of plutonium left over to sell to the highest bidder.
Is a reactor signature the same for plutonium as for uranium? I believe, that any nuclear material can be traced back to its source yes?
If someone sells this stuff, it is then detonated somewhere, and once the signature is gained, what do you think will happen to the country who sold it?

big ole parking lot

North Korea has has the ability to lob 10,000 artillery shells a minute, over 5 million a day,
The counter to this is airstrikes and counter-battery for which the U.S. and the ROK have plenty. I doubt that 30% of NKs arty would survive in the first 2 hours of conflict. If that, and it wont do one any good to hide it once you fire it.

The hope was that was within the Korean tinderbox would dissipate in a common desire for reunification ala Germany 1990.

it is my hope that it won't be that long and the the great Korean peoples will not have to pay the price Germany did for reunification....even Vietnam for that matter.

10 years, 20 years, whatever,
whatever, whatever what. when it is convenient for Kim, for China?....ah know thats the key isn't it.

Things used to be relatively stable in Korea

Stavs, what your take on this statement.

The reason of giving NK the data is to be responsible, some of those reactors are old and if NK is going to fire em up, they may as well have the latest safety manuals.

Matteo- don't call someone a commie and terrorist. You sound like Kims press secretary after a few beers.

(yeah-yeah, i should talk)
posted by clavdivs at 9:18 AM on March 9, 2003


Stravos, I completely agree with your link and don't believe I said anything to conflict with it. I simply pointed out that the Bush administration has taken a bad situation and made it many times worse by introducing plutonium into the equation. The intent was to shatter the illusion of Americans that what happens in Korea has little consequence for the rest of the world and secondly to emphasize that fantasies about quick military solutions make little sense when your battleground is basically downtown Seoul.
posted by JackFlash at 9:37 AM on March 9, 2003


i know nothing about korea BUT a korean chap stayed here the other night. we talked about what was happening and he blamed the usa quite clearly and directly. said that things had been much better between the two countries and that it was agression from bush that screwed things up.

just felt i should add that given the claim above that people who "know about" korea are less supportive of jackflash's claims (i do know some physics and he makes sense there too).

no-ones doubting that n korea is a mess (and i don't understand how pointing that out changes anything). but it got significantly worse and their appears to be a pretty clear causal link back to the usa.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:37 AM on March 9, 2003


i know nothing about korea BUT a korean chap stayed here the other night. we talked about what was happening and he blamed the usa quite clearly and directly. said that things had been much better between the two countries and that it was aggression from bush that screwed things up.

It would have been interesting to ask him how things had been better. Had then been better because everyone had been ignoring the North Korean nuclear situation? We all know ignoring a situation makes it go away... Was it better because of the continued skirmishes at the borders? The constant border crossings at sea by the North? How about the continued provocation in their publications and public pronouncements? Wait! I know, maybe it was better because of the uber-successful "Sunshine Policy." Yes! That's it! The policy where we bribe North Korea with hundreds of millions of dollars for a freaking meeting between the heads of state!

I remember reading a column in the Far Eastern Economic Review from a Korean scholar deriding the US for calling North Korea evil. He admitted that the leadership of the North was evil, but how dare we actually call them that. HUH? How dare we call something by what it actually is. Of course, starving your population, jailing, beating and torturing them for small infractions of the regime should be ignored. How dare anyone call them out for it.

I'm waiting for one of these Korean's who hate Bush so much to come up with a viable solution to Korean situation, not just the Nuclear one, but the one where North Korea tops the list of human rights abuses. Heck, just the Nuclear one. North Korea continually breaks just about every agreement they sign. All the 1994 agreement has meant is aid to the north while they continue to do as they wish while the rest of the world buries its collective head in the sand and ignores what happens.

I guess that is what your Korean colleague would rather go back to. If you don't hear about it, it isn't happening.

just felt i should add that given the claim above that people who "know about" korea are less supportive of jackflash's claims (i do know some physics and he makes sense there too).

The people who know about Korea are the ones that live there or work there or work with Koreans on a daily basis. We aren't claiming some all knowing power, we rarely agree with each other. But we do know about the way Korean's think and can see the situation in Korea from a perspective others can't. Excuse me for speaking for the others, this is my opinion of the situation.

Also, we are commenting on JackFlash's claims towards the situation in Korea, not on the physics itself, at least I'm not and the others don't seem to be either.

no-ones doubting that n korea is a mess (and i don't understand how pointing that out changes anything). but it got significantly worse and their appears to be a pretty clear causal link back to the usa.

Its no worse than it was back in 93-94 with rhetoric flying back and forth. It isn't getting worse, its getting out in the open where, maybe, it can be dealt with. I personally am not hopeful for a decent outcome. I gave up on the sunshine policy with its dismal record under Kim Dae Jung. The new President, to me at least, seems to be making the situation worse, not better.
posted by Plunge at 10:16 AM on March 9, 2003


commenting on JackFlash's claims

which "claims" exactly do you and other enlightened korea buffs take issue with?

i have yet to find any informed source other than talking heads at FOX and a few here at metafilter that dont think the "axis of evil" pronouncement and subsequent handling of the north korea issue by the bush administration has been anything other than an utter and complete fumble.

i do find the rights selective concern about human rights amusing though.
posted by specialk420 at 1:32 PM on March 9, 2003


I've stated his claims that I don't agree with, also those of stavosthewonderchicken on his site.

I don't know if it is a complete fumble or the best thing that has happened. I am tired of the talking heads who have no clue how to handle the situation deriding it though. I personally don't think anyone has a good enough grasp of the situation to understand how to handle it. You have those begging the US for direct talks with NK (gee, unilateralism is now wanted?), you have those that could help (see China and Russia) trying to back away from the situation. You have Japan threatening preemptive strikes and you have the bellicose NK spewing its hatred non-stop. We've tried appeasement via the 1994 agreements and it was a dismal failure. We've tried the "Sunshine Policy" with the same result.

i do find the rights selective concern about human rights amusing though.

Any explanation of this statement?

Here is an interesting editorial about the current US/SK situation.

BTW-why does the spellchecker want to change savosthewonderchicken to testosterone?
posted by Plunge at 2:11 PM on March 9, 2003


you have those that could help (see China and Russia) trying to back away from the situation.

On China, this article is worth reading: "Why China ignores Korea's nuclear crisis." It's contradicted by the more hopeful Times of India article I linked above, but I haven't found confirmation of the later. If the Chinese Foreign Minister is correct, then it looks like NK has provided a way out of this, but the US has to make the next move.
posted by homunculus at 3:08 PM on March 9, 2003


There is a lone beacon of insight, common sense and reason in the English language newspaper 'The Korea Herald', and his name is Cho Seh-Hyon. Here are some of his editorials (login name/password: mefi/mefi):

'Crisis? What crisis?'

'The hypocrisy of it all stinks'

'Yankee (don't) go home'

'Loving the bomb'

Just a few. His insight and clarity are quite moving.
posted by hama7 at 7:50 PM on March 9, 2003


Just one more:

'Upset over 'the axis of evil''
posted by hama7 at 7:58 PM on March 9, 2003


why does the spellchecker want to change s[t]av[r]osthewonderchicken to testosterone?

Heh. I like that a lot.

Sorry, by the way, that I came off all cranky, both here and in my response to Plunge at my site. I gotta learn to keep out of conversations before I have my first coffee in the morning. I'm just so tired of fielding 'omigod omigod are you like OK it's like nukes dude!' messages from well-meaning friends and family....
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:31 PM on March 9, 2003


Here we go again.
posted by hama7 at 4:11 AM on March 10, 2003


Here we go again indeed.

When I heard about this I was struck about the similarities to the Taiwan Straits missile crisis back in 1996.

In that case the US intervened both militarily and diplomatically against a far larger and formidable enemy than North Korea.

Would anyone case to offer an opinion on what's changed in US tactical thinking in Asia-Pacific theatre in the intervening seven years?

I remember someone wondering in print recently if Gerardo della Paolera was only half right when he said that those who don't remember history are condemned to repeat it. Now seems prescient on reflection...
posted by dmt at 8:43 AM on March 10, 2003


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