The latest launch this week confirmed North Korea’s resolve to develop intercontinental missiles that can carry powerful nuclear weapons. Its government has ignored international resolutions, UN votes, sanctions and warnings. It seems that nothing can stop a dangerous power from acquiring the ability to unleash international destruction.
North Korea’s Kim Jong-un wants two principal things. Like all dictators, he wants to stay in power. The second, strategic aim of North Korea is to incorporate the South into a unified Korea run by the North. Preventing this at present is South Korea’s US alliance. If he launches a conventional invasion the US will come to the South’s aid. He has developed long-range missiles and thermonuclear bombs in order to deter such US intervention by threatening the destruction of their cities.
But the solution is surely for the South to be itself armed with missiles and nuclear weapons. Crash programmes could help South Korea develop missiles within eight months. They have some of the best scientists in the world. Similarly with modest and indirect US assistance they could probably have nuclear bombs soon afterwards. It would breach non-proliferation agreements, of course, as did Israel, South Africa, India, Pakistan and North Korea itself.
With its own missiles, which do not need to be long-range since they will not need to reach the US, the South itself will be able to deter a Northern attack. US intervention will not be needed. The stalemate will be like the nuclear stand-off between the US and Russia, in which mutual deterrence kept them from attacking each other.
This way, the world need not be impotent in the face of North Korean development of a nuclear strike force and their threats to use it aggressively. Arming the South is a solution. The South is rich, much, much richer than the North, and could win any arms race. This is the answer that breaks the impasse and changes the game to make the world safer. When the people around Kim see that his policy has given them a Southern neighbour armed and ready to defend itself and that Kim’s objective cannot be achieved, his own position might be under threat.