Brinksmanship From North Korea
President Obama's first true international crisis may be emerging, and it is not about Iraq, Afghanistan, or Iran. As CNN reports:
North Korea said Saturday it would strengthen its nuclear capabilities, a defiant protest against the U.N. Security Council's move to tighten sanctions against it.
North Korea officials said they were enriching uranium and would weaponize all plutonium, according to KCNA, the state-run North Korean news agency.
When enriched to a high degree, uranium can be used for weapons-grade material. Plutonium can be used in atomic bombs.
These moves are in response to Friday's U.N. resolution, according to the news agency, which referred to the resolution as a blockade.
In the past, North Korea has played the nuke card to gain the world's attention, and has backed down when offered various forms of negotiations and international aid. The problem is that no one ever knows what to expect from a leadership that is obsessively opaque and not always rational. And North Korea rarely responds well to being scolded. The Straits Times has North Korea's statement:
'Firstly, all plutonium to be extracted will be weaponised. One third of used fuel rods have so far been reprocessed,' its foreign ministry said in a statement.
'Secondly, we will start uranium enrichment,' it said, adding the North has successfully developed technology needed to enrich uranium after it decided to build its own light water reactors.
It also said it would consider any blockade as an act of war and said it would retaliate militarily.
The foreign ministry, describing the sanctions resolution as a 'vile product' of a US-inspired campaign, said the North would never abandon nuclear weapons and would treat any attempt to blockade it as an act of war.
The good news is that we now have sane people running our foreign policy. The bad news is that figuring out what to do about North Korea never is easy. And North Korea now is playing all its cards.