The Magazine

Kim Jong Il, Rocket Man

Time to defuse him.

Jul 17, 2006, Vol. 11, No. 41 • By DAN BLUMENTHAL
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This policy starts with the precept that North Korea has forfeited its right to be treated as a member of the community of nations--it consistently breaks international laws and conventions by using diplomatic pouches to traffic in illicit goods, it is the only nation in history to have withdrawn from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and it has starved and enslaved its own people. In addition, it is a threat to us and our allies. There is no reason for the civilized world to treat North Korea like a normal country or allow it to explain away its missile tests as a "sovereign right." By ignoring its sovereign duties it has forfeited its sovereign rights.

We need to declare the six-party talks over, announce that we will retaliate should the DPRK use or help others use nuclear weapons, redouble our missile defense efforts in conjunction with Japan and South Korea, and continue deploying more bomber capability in the Pacific. We also need a more robust program of inspecting North Korean vessels for both WMD and illicit materials. And we need a worldwide effort to stop North Korea from using its diplomatic facilities and assets for criminal purposes. Starving the DPRK of its export of counterfeit money and cigarettes, as well as narcotics and weaponry, will hurt the regime badly. The nations of the world simply have to enforce their own, and international, law.

What about China? China is un likely to go along with this policy, which will certainly complicate our efforts. But should it choose to be the only country in the world propping up a criminal, brutal, and highly threatening regime, we ought to reconsider whether China has any interest in playing the role of "responsible stakeholder" we have assigned it. This has broader implications for how we think about China. Though China's ability to threaten U.S. interests is still limited, it is neither our friend nor our partner. We certainly do not need a China policy that pretends otherwise.

Dan Blumenthal is a resident fellow in Asian studies at the American Enterprise Institute.