The Us Security Policy And North Korea Nuclear Programme, 2000 – 2008

Project and Seminar Material for International Relations

The Us Security Policy And North Korea Nuclear Programme, 2000 – 2008


Abstract


This study examines the interface between the US security policy and North Korea nuclear programme. The thrust of the study however is to find out if the US government perceived North Korea nuclear programme as a threat to its national security on the one hand and part of its war on terror, between 2000 and 2008 on the other. The study also investigated whether the US government security policy on North Korea nuclear programme relegates multilateral intervention on nuclear weapon development within the same period. Relying on the realist approach which tackles politics for what it is without moralizing it, qualitative method and qualitative descriptive method of analysis, and relying on secondary sources, the study argues that the US government perceived North Korea nuclear programme as a threat to its national security as well part of its war on terror, between 2000 and 2008 and as such orient its security policy on North Korea nuclear programme to relegate multilateral intervention on nuclear weapon development. Accordingly, the study maintains that the US government should really curtail the rate at which it seeks, foster and protect what it regards as its national interests as this accounts for North Korea’s nuclear enrichment.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background Of study

The posture of the US foreign and defense policies especially in the post-Cold War era of international politics has demonstrated blatantly and abundantly a tendency to seek power, increase power and to demonstrate power (Morganthau, 1973). More importantly, the 9/11 terrorist attack did transform the way America government think about their foreign and defense policies. In fact, there have been remarkable changes in U.S defense and nuclear weapons policy following the 9/11 terrorist attack. These changes in U.S nuclear weapon policy were announced in two official documents that were released by the Bush’s administration in 2002. Both documents, according to Intriligator (2003), were influenced, in part, by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

The first of these documents is the U.S Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) issued by the U.S Department of Defense which expressively states that “A combination of offensive and defensive and nuclear and non-nuclear capabilities is essential to meet the deterrence requirements of the 21st century” (cited in Intriligator, 2003:2). The second of these documents is the National Security Strategy of the United States of America (NSS). Issued by the Office of the National Security Advisor to the President in September, 2000, the document reveals that there are plans to ensure that no nation could rival U.S military strength. It proclaims the doctrine of U.S preemption, where it “cannot let our enemies strike first” and gives arguments for preemption. It notes that for “centuries, international law recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent danger of attack.” (Intriligator, nd: 2).

Thus, influenced mostly by the latter document, President George W. Bush, on June 1st, 2002, at West Point, set forth a new doctrine for U.S security policy. According to him,

The successful strategies of the cold war era are ill-suited to national defense in the 21st century. Deterrence means nothing against terrorist networks; containment will not thwart unbalanced dictators possessing weapons of mass destruction. We cannot afford to wait until we are attacked. In today’s circumstances, Americans must be ready to take ‘preemptive action’ to defend our lives and liberties (Galston, 2002: np).

With this, George W. Bush not only introduced what has since been widely known as “Bush Doctrine”, but has also made it an official part of U.S policy. Therefore, US defense/strategic policy under George W. Bush, as aptly described by Falk (2002) implies striking first, not in a crisis, but on the basis of shadowy intentions, alleged potentials links to terrorist groups, supposed plans and projects to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and anticipations of possible future dangers.

Meanwhile, the US government, even before the 9/11, appeared to have been committed to unilateral military solution to the problems of terrorism and acquisition and possible use of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Hence, in the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks, the United States found justification to harass, intimidate, attack and dethrone regimes suspected of either harboring terrorists, amassing weapons of mass destruction or colluding with the known terrorist organizations. These states were variously labeled by the Bush administration as “terrorist states”, “axis of evil”, “rogue states”, among others and therefore proclaimed its determination to attack “foes in anticipation of hostile acts” and to carry out these attacks “unilaterally, presumably without prior authorization from the United Nations Security Council” (cited in Wirtz and Russel, 2003: 117).

True to its threat, the administration of Bush preemptively and unilaterally attacked Iraq in 2003, dethroning its leader- Saddam Hussein and installing another government which is believed to be pliable to the government on the United States. However, despite the avalanche of criticisms and condemnations that have trailed the US unilateralism and hegemonism in the aftermath of the Cold war, the US government, particularly the administration of George Bush, did maintain unequivocally that the menace of terrorism as well as the potential dangers posed by the accumulation and the possible use of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) by the “rogue states” has made the resort to preemption unquestionably desirable.

As for the North Korea, various diplomatic efforts have been underway, in the last 25 years, to grapple with the North Korean nuclear issue in terms of whether to prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons or to disarm its assumed nuclear weapons capability. At different times, the instruments to achieve these objectives have included an international treaty (the NPT), a regional nuclear-free zone (the NSDD) and a bilateral agreement between the US and North Korea. In the end, none of these diplomatic efforts and agreements has been fully successful, although, in different degrees, they have helped to delay or constrain – sometimes very significantly – North Korea’s nuclear weapons efforts (Niksch, 2002). The current diplomatic effort involves a fourth variation – a Six Party multilateral agreement or perhaps a package of bilateral agreements stitched together in an overall multilateral framework. As with previous efforts, the future success or failure of the Six Party Talks is uncertain.

In crafting their approaches to the nuclear issue, the US and other powers have struggled to come to grips with Pyongyang’s ultimate intentions. For years, North Korea watchers have debated whether Pyongyang views nuclear weapons as indispensable to the regime’s survival and therefore non-negotiable, or whether it sees its nuclear assets as a bargaining chip to be traded away for political and economic benefits necessary to sustaining the regime. The historical record suggests that the answer is both, and the emphasis that Pyongyang places on one or the other varies with domestic conditions and external circumstances (Henneka, 2006).

On the one hand, the time and energy that North Korea has invested in developing its nuclear weapons capability, allied to its willingness to repeatedly violate nuclear agreements, strongly suggests that North Korean leaders deeply believe that some kind of nuclear hedge – or at least the appearance of a credible nuclear hedge – is essential to regime survival. Pyongyang sees itself as a besieged and beleaguered state, surrounded by more powerful enemies, untrustworthy allies, and a successful southern competitor. To this end, as articulated by Henneka (2006), if North Korea is ever going to reform itself and survive in the long run, it must find respite from external pressures and perceived threats in which case, nuclear weapons are the ultimate defence.

Therefore, as long as outside powers believe that it has a nuclear deterrent they are – in Pyongyang’s view – more likely to leave North Korea alone and less likely to pursue hostile policies that could provoke a confrontation in which such weapons are used. On the other hand, North Korea has demonstrated that it does respond to international inducements and pressures to limit its nuclear programme. In the past, Soviet diplomacy, backed by promises of nuclear power assistance, persuaded North Korea to join the NPT, and US diplomatic efforts convinced North Korea to implement IAEA inspections. Later, Washington and Pyongyang negotiated a complex bilateral agreement that froze North Korea’s plutonium production facilities and established a process for the eventual elimination of these facilities. With a combination of carrots and sticks, Washington has been making enormous diplomatic efforts to convince Pyongyang to open up a secret underground facility and to accept a moratorium on long-range missile tests (Niksch, 2002). Be that as it may, diplomatic efforts in the past have constrained, but not eliminated North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.

Against the background of the foregoing, the study critically assesses the US security policy and North Korean nuclear programme, between 2000 and 2008. The study also examines the US defense policy in terms of the North Korean nuclear programme jeopardizes US national security as well as her crusade against international terrorism with the same period.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Diplomatic efforts oriented towards grappling with the attempts by North Korean government to acquire nuclear weapons and develop its ballistic missile capabilities have witnessed both success and failure. During this period, four different approaches have been variously tried. First, beginning in the 1980s, the US-led efforts to use pressures and inducements to convince North Korea to adhere to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons on the one hand, and accept International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection of its nuclear facilities and materials, on the other. In December 1985, North Korea acceded to the NPT and, after significant prevarication, accepted international inspections in April 1992. The implementation of the inspection agreement however collapsed following North Korean government refusal to cooperate with the IAEA to verify plutonium production prior to 1992, a situation compounded when Pyongyang threatened to withdraw from the NPT in March 1993.

Second, in December 1991, North and South Korea entered into a bilateral agreement on ‘denuclearisation’ which included restrictions on nuclear activities beyond those specified in the NPT. Unfortunately, this agreement was not implemented as a result of disagreements between Seoul and Pyongyang over the number and type of bilateral inspections necessary to verify it.

Third, consequent upon threat by North Korean government to pull out from the NPT in March 1993, the US and North Korea in October 1994 concluded a bilateral agreement: the Agreed Framework. The Agreed Framework called for an ambitious undertaking to freeze and eventually dismantle North Korea’s plutonium production facilities and account for its plutonium stocks in exchange for interim supplies of heavy fuel oil and an alternative nuclear energy project, as well as improved bilateral relations with Washington. For nearly a decade, the Agreed Framework halted North Korean production of additional plutonium, but it did not end North Korea’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the Agreed Framework collapsed amid diplomatic acrimony arising from public revelations in October 2002 that North Korea was pursuing a secret programme to produce weapons grade uranium. North Korea however revived its plutonium production facilities in December 2002 and withdrew from the NPT in January 2003, arguing that it had already given the requisite 90-day notice when it announced its original intent to withdraw in March 1993.

Finally, the US has, since the collapse of the Agreed Framework, promoted a fourth effort to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue – through Six Party Talks between the US, Russia, China, Japan, and North and South Korea. These are intended to secure a multilateral agreement for North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for security assurances and political and economic benefits. This is in line with the present US national security strategy which states that “the US may not deter the types of threats that are emerging today, such as those created by rogue nations or terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction” (Woolf, 2008: 9-10). Consequently, the US government has sought to preempt these threats through persuasive diplomacy, and attacking the adversaries before they can attack the US, its allies and interests.

The link between the US national security policy and North Korean nuclear programmes has been a subject of intellectual discourse and considerable efforts have been made by scholars such as Niksch (2002), Henneka (2006), Boureston and Russell (2009), Niksch (2006), Chanlett-Avery (2012), Pritchard (2005), Ur-Reham (2010) and so on to examine the threats of North Korean nuclear programmes to the US national interests/security. Despite the forgoing inquiries, the extant literature has suffered from important shortcomings. This is because the existing research in this area has not satisfactorily explained whether the US government perceives North Korea Nuclear Programme as a threat to its national security. Of much importance, however, is the fact that the existing inquiries have failed short of evaluating adequately whether the US government perceive North Korea Nuclear Programme as part of its war on terror. Finally, adequate attempts have not been made to explore the link between the US government security policy on North Korea Nuclear Programme and multilateral intervention on nuclear weapon development.

In the light of the above, attempt is made, therefore, to critically examine the US national security policy and North Korean nuclear programmes, between 2000 and 2008 in context of the understated research questions:

  1. Did the US government perceive North Korea Nuclear Programme as a threat to its national security, between 2000 and 2008?
  2. Did the US government perceive North Korea Nuclear Programme as part of its war on terror, between 2000 and 2008?
  3. Did the US government security policy on North Korea nuclear programme relegate multilateral intervention on nuclear weapon development, between 2000 and 2008?

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of this study is to critically examine the interface between the US security policy and North Korea nuclear programme. However, the study is set to achieve the following specific objectives:

  1. To examine whether the US government perceives North Korea nuclear programme as a threat to its national security, between 2000 and 2008.
  2. To ascertain whether the US government perceives North Korea nuclear programme as part of its war on terror, between 2000 and 2008.
  3. To investigate if the US government security policy on North Korea nuclear programme relegates multilateral intervention on nuclear weapon development, between 2000 and 2008.

1.4 Significance of the Study

This research work has both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, the study interrogates the link between the North Korea nuclear programme and threat to the national security; between the North Korea nuclear programme and the US government war on terror; and between the US government security policy on North Korea nuclear programme and multilateral intervention on nuclear weapon development.

Practically, the study will be of interest and immense importance to the Nigerian government, the organs of the United Nations and other people, groups and organizations interested in American hegemony and unilateralism in this 21stcentury. The issues will not only help to enhance understanding of American defense and foreign policy in the 21st century, but will also provide valuable information/data that will assist global actors in articulating potent policies that will help to address the US government -North Korean government face-off over nuclear programme.

Again, by examining, in its entirety, the North Korea nuclear programme, the study will constructively highlight how it poses a threat to the US government national security on the one hand and how the US government security policy on North Korea nuclear programme relegates multilateral intervention on nuclear weapon development on the other.

Finally, the study by addressing the research questions, clarifying issues, facilitating understanding and stimulating enlightened intellectual discourse will not only be a further contribution to knowledge and a source for further research but will equally chart a new intellectual course in the study of US hegemony and unilateralism in this 21st century.

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