N.Korea Keeps the Region Trapped in the Nuclear Shadow

      April 08, 2010 10:26

      U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced his administration's Nuclear Posture Review on Tuesday, setting the direction of U.S. policy on nuclear weapons. "The United States is declaring that we will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations," Obama said.

      The latest NPR, announced every eight years, is the first ever to contain a commitment not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states. Until now, the U.S. had left open the possibility of nuclear retaliation for acts of aggression by enemy states without such weapons.

      The revised policy has removed most of the countries in the world from the threat of U.S. nuclear attack, but the Korean Peninsula is not part of that group, because of North Korea, which has conducted two nuclear tests after withdrawing from the NPT. In a media interview, Obama said the North remained on the list of "outliers" that are exceptions to the new policy. Excluding the traditional nuclear states, North Korea and Iran are the only two countries to be left inside the crosshairs of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

      North Korea has claimed that it had no choice but to arm itself with nuclear weapons due to the threat of attack by the U.S. But the new NPR shows that if Pyongyang chooses to scrap its nuclear arsenal it will no longer have to fear a U.S. nuclear attack. If the North continues to pursue its nuclear ambitions, the Korean people and the entire peninsula will remain under the threat of nuclear war, in contrast to the global trend toward a world without such terrible weapons.

      The leaders of 47 countries, including South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, will gather in Washington D.C. next week to attend the first ever nuclear security summit. Through the summit, the two countries need to reaffirm their determination to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.

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