What ‘Serious Consequences’ Face North Korea?

What-Serious-Consequences-Face-North-Korea

“It’s really great news,” one loyal citizen said.  This will be a shock “to the US imperialists”, another man commented.

Today is Foundation Day in Pyongyang – the anniversary of the founding of the state.

As residents gather to remember their history, what better day to announce another great achievement for its current leader, the man known there as Marshal Kim Jong-Un, in securing their future.

His citizens are told the country faces a constant, existential threat from hostile, imperialist forces beyond its borders – specifically the United States and its “puppet war maniacs” in South Korea.  

Only Kim Jong-Un’s strong leadership and his pursuit of this nuclear deterrent can ensure the country’s survival, and ultimate socialist victory, so the state propaganda narrative goes.

So this apparently successful nuclear test is reason to rejoice and give thanks for the Marshal’s wise stewardship.

Outside those borders, though, the condemnation is already raining down.

Even China’s foreign ministry has said it “firmly opposes” this nuclear test, though an editorial published by the state news agency Xinhua (and therefore approved by senior officials) was more equivocal, calling for all parties to exercise restraint, and pointing out that South Korea’s decision to deploy a US anti-missile system had “seriously damaged” the region’s strategic balance.

And herein lies the rub.

All sides can agree on the need for strong condemnation, and the undesirability of a nuclear-armed Kim Jong-Un – and there will likely now be another firmly worded UN Security Council resolution.

But as to what actual meaningful action should follow, what those “serious consequences” should be – there is less clear consensus.

China does not want a nuclear North Korea over the border, but neither does it want the regime to collapse.

Beijing fears this would cause a refugee crisis in its northeast, and perhaps more worryingly the prospect of a unified Korean peninsula under the government of Seoul, allied to the United States.  

So China’s leadership may be prepared to push the Kim regime a little further, but not right over the edge.

It is also deeply concerned, for which read furious, about South Korea’s planned deployment of the US THAAD (terminal high-altitude area defence) anti-missile shield. It fears the system’s radar could penetrate Chinese sovereign territory, undermining its strategic defence.

North Korea’s nuclear test was “not wise”, said the Xinhua editorial, but neither does it see Pyongyang as the sole provocateur. It would likely want that included in the wording of any new resolution.

Finally, there is the question as to what difference another resolution, or tougher sanctions, would really make.

Every test North Korea has carried out this year has been in breach of existing UN Security Council resolutions and it is already one of the most heavily sanctioned countries in the world.

The tougher the sanctions and life for people there becomes, the greater the threat to popular support for Kim Jong-Un. With that, the people of North Korea can expect to hear more about the hostile forces ranged against the country, and the need for this nuclear deterrent. Kim Jong-Un may cling to his weapons programme.

So it is difficult to see more sanctions meaningfully changing the calculus in Pyongyang, short of measures so crippling they threaten the survival of the regime – and China is unlikely to sign up to that. 

News Source SkyNews

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