Archive for the ‘WMDs’ Category

North Korea announced yesterday that it will test launch another long-range rocket for the commemoration of the one year anniversary of the death of the former leader Kim Jong-Il. This launch is said to take place any time from December 10 to December 22. The report mentions how this announcement was made after Chinese delegation went to visit North Korea. It was speculated that China had sent a delegation to speak with North Korea about halting launches of test missiles. Critics say that this launch is a cover for testing intercontinental ballistic missiles. South Korea and the United States see this test launch as a provocation from North Korea.

“In Washington, the Obama administration also denounced the planned launching. A North Korean ‘satellite’ launching would be a highly provocative act that threatens peace and security in the region,” Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, said in a statement on Saturday. She added that the United States was consulting with allies on the issue.”

This article reflects my points covered in my North Korean Nuclear Proliferation research paper. It demonstrates the argument I made of North Korea’s “two faced” actions. North Korea says the missile launch is a form of celebrating the memory of previous leader Kim Jong-Il as it did in April when it launched a missile to remember Kim Il-Sung the creator the Korean nation. When in reality these launches are actual missile testing under the disguise of commemoration for previous leaders. Though the April launch was a failed launch, this new launch is said to be full of hope for success as previous errors were corrected. This announcement by North Korea only elevates the tension between North and South Korea and inevitably a concern for the United States even though North Korea may not be a priority on America’s foreign policy check list right now, though it is there as a concern. North Korea seems to be using in my opinion these test launches as a form of leverage for negotiations for economic aid and to serve as a reminder to other countries the potential it could have with its missile launches and its continued focus on the production of weapons of mass destruction.


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Secretary of State Dean Rusk, President Lyndon...

Secretary of State Dean Rusk, President Lyndon B. Johnson, and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara at a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Iran‘s nuclear ambitious have been getting a lot of attention lately, but whatever happened to our Cold War love affair with the possibility of nuclear annihilation? It’s all a bit sad that our major nuclear concerns revolve around a “maybe” in Iran, an educated guess as to the actual nuclear capabilities of North Korea, and for the foreign policy junkies the neighborly disputes of the nuclear sort involving India and Pakistan. What about fears of an attack on US soil? Have we lost our faith in the Henry Kissingers, the Donald Rumsfelds, and the Dick Cheneys of old that could so compel us with rousing speeches about how we might die tomorrow? In recent years, fans of doomsday scenarios may have been forced to turn to figures like Glenn Beck for their daily dose of annihilation-inspiration. Luckily, for those of us with a more aged and refined taste for annihilation scenarios, foreignpolicy.com is offering some gems of the nuclear sort in an article titled “The Fifty-Megaton Elephant in the Room.”

US Secretary of Defense Leo Panetta is in Beijing this week for a round of meetings with leader Xi Jinping, where they will discuss a plethora of topics not including nuclear weapons, says the article. At the moment, US-China nuclear relations exist on an “I won’t use the nuke first” basis, and needless to say the author is of the opinion that two nuclear weapon-possessing world powers should certainly be discussing the issue. China has been described by some as “little Russia,” in comparing the threat that Russia posed to the US during the Cold War and the threat that China may pose today. However, Jeffery Lewis, the article’s author, points out that the current situation is far from the situation that existed during the Cold War.

Lewis argues that during the Cold War, reasons for the US and Russia to refrain from using nuclear weapons on each other were clear. The nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the evolution of more powerful nuclear weapons compelled us to think there would be no winner in a nuclear war. A policy of “assured destruction” became popular in the 1960s, following an experiment conducted by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. McNamara concluded that even if 400 1-megaton nuclear bombs were deployed against the Soviet Union, it might not be enough to deter “another Stalin,” but “401 would be a fool’s errand.” This policy became known as “mutually assured destruction” (MAD).

Lewis points out that for policy-makers; mutually assured destruction on the level dreamed by McNamara is far beyond the realm of acceptability. Decision makers are persuaded by the idea that even one nuclear bomb could reach U.S. or Chinese shores, and the state of “mutual vulnerability” as MAD has evolved into, very much still exists. Understanding that mutual vulnerability is a fact of life is a fact that should encourage this issue to continually be discussed, contends Lewis.

Do countries like Iran, Pakistan, and India figure into U.S. foreign policy decisions regarding mutual vulnerability? Should American presidents, and currently the Obama administration push harder for nuclear non-proliferation? Does the ownership of nuclear weapons increase or decrease geopolitical slack? Is Iran pursuing nuclear weapons to deter the United States, or to have a bargaining chip on the table of world powers?

These are all questions that should be asked.

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Central Intelligence Agency Seal

Central Intelligence Agency Seal (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

In recently declasified CIA documents they revealed their errors in “finding” WMD‘s and explain that policy makers and analysts did not put enough time into analyzing the situation to actually determine if the changes in Iraqi policy actually pointed to WMD’s.

It would seem that the CIA dropped the ball in the sense that they made assumptions about foreign policy in Iraq without assuming something such as the rational actor model. It would seem that instead the CIA assumed that Iraq was going to be hostile to the United States and other Middle Eastern players.

While it is stated that there were detected and perpetrated deceptions, the reasons for the deceptions were not correctly investigated or interpreted. While hindsight is always 20/20, it seems hard to believe that a trained analyst for the CIA would make such a fundamental error in assuming the actions of a foreign state. Instead it would seem that even the basest of foreign policy classes would be able to explain that Iraq would not at that time be weaponizing as they would see that it would lead to war. If they knew that the United States suspected them for the attacks on 9/11 then they would know that building WMD’s would certainly lead to conflict in their state.

Hopefully in the future agencies like the CIA and other foreign intelligence agencies won’t rush analysis on state’s actions. Instead they should take the time to do their jobs properly.


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