Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Saturday, August 09, 2003
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Why States Seek to Acquire Nuclear Weapons

Power and Interest News Report tells us:

When a state acquires nuclear weapons, the cost of invading that state increases, making it more difficult and expensive to gain a military edge over a nuclear-armed state. For example, in the early 1980s Iraq was developing a nuclear reactor for, at least in part, energy purposes; however, the only nuclear-armed state in the region, Israel, feared that Iraq's reactor would be used to develop nuclear weapons. Israel correctly assumed that if Iraq were to acquire nuclear weapons, Israel would lose its nuclear monopoly in the Middle East and thus likely lose foreign policy leverage with other countries in the region. Therefore, since Iraq did not yet have nuclear weapons, in 1981 Israel was able to launch a successful military strike on the Iraqi nuclear reactor without the fear of a powerful retaliation.

Following this strike, according to Iraqi nuclear scientists, Iraq hastened its mission to develop nuclear weapons. The Iraqi state realized the only way to increase their leverage with their rivals -- such as Iran and Israel -- was to acquire such weapons, knowing full well that this would make it much more difficult for rival states to threaten or attack Iraq. This same reason may be why the Ba'ath Party leadership was unwilling to allow U.N. weapons inspectors complete access to every part of Iraq: the ambiguity surrounding its weapons program could have theoretically increased Baghdad's foreign policy negotiating power.

This ambiguity can also be seen in current North Korean foreign policy. Ever since the election of the Bush administration, which publicly considers North Korea a threat that may require "regime change," Pyongyang has sent out a dizzying amount of confusing signals regarding its nuclear program. The purpose of such dubious statements is likely to create the perception that North Korea is possibly a nuclear-armed state. As long as powerful rival states, such as the United States and Japan, are unclear about North Korea's nuclear program, they will have to be more careful before deciding to take military action against the country.

As these two examples illustrate, nuclear-armed states work to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in order to preserve their power and increase their foreign policy leverage. States without nuclear weapons, on the other hand, often strive to acquire nuclear weapons in order to increase their power and foreign policy leverage, while also protecting their own country from military attacks by outside major and minor powers.

Indeed, North Korea's biggest bone of contention with us is the lack of a non-aggression pact. In our invasion of Iraq, the DPRK sees their own future if they do not become a nuclear power. Their not unreasonable perception of our development of pre-emptive nuclear strategy, overtly hostile statements and military chess moves on the peninsula is that they presage an attack on their nation. This combined with their current economic crisis has led North Korea to implement what it believes is the only logical solution:

The DPRK's intention to build up a nuclear deterrent force is not aimed to threaten and blackmail others but reduce conventional weapons under a long-term plan and channel manpower resources and funds into economic construction and the betterment of people's living.

The DPRK will build up a powerful physical deterrent force capable of neutralizing any sophisticated and nuclear weapons with less spending unless the U.S. gives up its hostile policy toward the DPRK.

Our bellicosity and disdain for constructive engagement and international norms has brought us to this. Hopefully there's still time to change the path we're on.


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A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

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