Friday 08 Oct 2021 | 02:56 | SYDNEY
Friday 08 Oct 2021 | 02:56 | SYDNEY

More thoughts on North Korean nukes


Sam Roggeveen


6 April 2009 11:28

Following on from my previous post: first, although it is unnerving and completely undesirable to have Kim Jong-Il in charge of nuclear weapons, we should remember that he is not the first eccentric to have a nuclear arsenal at his disposal. Think Kruschev banging his shoe on a desk at the UN General Assembly, or of a certain American president who joked about starting a full-scale war with the Soviets, and whose wife regularly consulted an astrologer.

The point is that, although we think of the Cold War as a period of stable deterrence, there were plenty of reasons for both sides to question the rationality of the other. So I'm not saying it is desirable or even acceptable that North Korea has these weapons — just that it is not unprecedented, and we have muddled through before.

Second, regarding what to do about this. President Obama took a major step in the right direction with his Prague speech about a nuclear-weapons-free world. Countries like North Korea and Iran get a long way in the court of international opinion by highlighting the unfairness of 'nuclear apartheid'. Why should we commit to denuclearising, they ask, when the US itself makes no genuine attempt to do so?

Well, this is a genuine attempt. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that, as presidents go, Obama seems to be the most personally committed nuclear abolitionist since Ronald Reagan.