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North Korea: A Nuclear Threat or a Need for Electricity?

North Korea Crisis
By: Tanya Sierra

Power. Respect. Deterrence. These are powerful words that we use on a daily basis at school or at work, usually to make a point. When you take these words and use them to talk about a nuclear program they become that much more powerful and scary.Right now North Korea is using these words and the world is being pushed closer and closer to the brink of nuclear war. But the question is: Does North Korea want a nuclear war or are they just backing the world into a corner to get what they want?

Ever since the 1960’s the world’s five largest powers that had nuclear weapons (the U.S., Great Britain, France, China, and Russia) have attempted to contain the number of countries that developed nuclear weapons. Early on it was realized what a threat and what devastation nuclear weapons created and that in the hands of the wrong people they can spell doom for all of us.

The answer came in 1967 in the form of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. The treaty’s purpose is to keep the number of countries with nuclear weapons to the five countries that possessed such weapons before 1967. North Korea did sign the treaty, but recently withdrew from it and restarted its nuclear reactors. This defiance angered several nations who continue to abide by the treaty. The root cause of North Korea’s decision to restart their nuclear reactors has to do with power, energy, and electricity; North Korea lacks the energy needed to run its country on a day to day basis.

In 1994, North Korea shut down its nuclear weapons program as well as its nuclear reactors and in exchange the U.S. promised it would build two power-producing nuclear reactors. In the meantime the U.S. promised international economic aid in the form of oil supplies to sustain North Korea until the new reactors were built. Over the next eight years the North Koreans would threaten many times to restart its nuclear weapons program because of the number of delays the U.S. encountered in building the power-producing nuclear reactors. They are constantly quoted as saying, “We shut down our nuclear weapons program but where are our two power-producing nuclear reactors promised?”

The boiling point finally came in October 2002 when U.S. officials visited North Korea and confronted its officials about long time rumors that they never shut down their nuclear weapons program. North Korea admitted that it continued to develop its nuclear weapons program. The U.S. responded by stopping oil supplies to the North Koreans in December 2002 and this led to strong reactions from leader, Kim Jong II. UN Inspectors were quickly asked to leave the country, but not before the monitoring seals and cameras were removed from their nuclear facilities – a move that angered many nations including the U.S. To make matters worse, Jong has had the support of the North Korean people, thanks in great part to the large propaganda campaign against the U.S.

So what happens next? North Korea doesn’t seem like it’s going to budge any time soon and the U.S. won’t settle for anything less than the nuclear program being shut down. Hopefully, with oil supplies cut off, and pressure from the world around him growing, Jong will agree to peace negotiations with the U.S. Most likely both sides will sit down and talk in the very near future and make a new agreement in which North Korea once again shuts down its nuclear power program and the U.S. will agree to have the power-producing nuclear reactors ready ahead of schedule. The U.S. and North Korea know that coming to a peaceful agreement is in the best interests of not only both countries but of the world around them. However, in the game of politics, you have to bluff a little like North Korea is doing; and if your enemy is distracted, the way the U.S. is distracted with Iraq, that’s even better because normally you’ll get what you want. Let’s just all hope that what they end up getting is in the best interests of the world because if not we may have to ask our parents about those “Duck and Cover” nuclear attack drills they had to go through when they were in school. I cannot imagine living in a world where there is constant panic about a nuclear strike the way our parents did in the 1960’s. Can you?

0 0 185 02 March, 2003 News, World March 2, 2003

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