"MISSILE MERCHANT"... MINGI'S OP-ED IN THE NEW YORK SUN
My friend got this op-ed piece printed in The New York Sun today. Subscription is needed, but he sent me his copy so check it out.
The New York Sun
by Mingi Hyun
November 11, 2004
Over the weekend, the diplomatic row between the European Union and Iran seemed to have simmered down, with possibilities of a settlement appearing on the horizon. The trio of European powers may be palm pressing with smiles, but this is no reason to celebrate. The truth is, even if Iran's nuclear weapons programs ceased, there is no guarantee its thirst for nuclear weapons would be quenched. After all, it has a trading partner of two decades that is developing nuclear warheads as we speak: Kim Jong Il's North Korea.
Mr. Kim's regime has been generously described by Condoleezza Rice as "the world's number one merchant for ballistic missiles." Iran and North Korea's relationship dates back to the 1980s, when Iranians helped fund a then-infantile North Korean missile program. With financial support from the mullahs and technical help from the communist Chinese, the North Korean ballistic missile program has made significant progress. In 15 years, any city in America could be targeted.
In September, Mohammad Khatami paraded his Shahab-3 missiles down the streets of Tehran. Capable of reaching Israel and other American interests in the region, the ballistic missiles were draped with banners reading "Wipe Israel Off The Map" and "Crush America." The Shahab-3s are not homegrown. Their design is based on a North Korean missile and composed of North Korean parts. Such are the dangers that North Korea spreads.
Just imagine the catastrophic implications of nuclear warheads in Mr. Kim's 2005 weapons of mass destruction catalog.
What's truly worrisome about Mr. Kim's possession of nukes is that the likelihood of him selling the weapons is far greater than his putting them to use. The Kim regime has been selling weapons, be it artillery, shoulder rocket launchers or ballistic missiles for decades. The payments for those weapons have funded his military and various weapons programs, including nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. His clients have included Iran, Syria, and Egypt. Thanks to the Bush administration, Iraq is no longer a client.
Other cash-generating actions that Mr. Kim has orchestrated and continues to this day are $500 million a year in heroin and methamphetamine trafficking throughout Asia, and counterfeiting American dollars and laundering them through Chinese casinos. At one point, the North Koreans even sold food aid they had received. Numerous North Korean military defectors and former dockworkers have said much of the food aid is taken to military bases, not towns with starving children. It's no wonder the North Korean military, the world's fifth largest, has remained intact while over 3 million North Korean people have literally starved to death and hundreds of thousands have fled the country due to famine since the mid-1990s. Mr. Kim continues to arm his military with more potent weapons, and he has been doing the same for like-minded roguish Middle Eastern regimes. While beefing up his military and funding costly weapons programs, he has ignored, abused, and starved his people to death.
It's difficult to say Mr. Kim leads a nation. Rather, North Korea is a family-run enterprise selling contraband to countries prohibited from purchasing weapons from Lockheed Martin or Raytheon. Selling nuclear or chemical weapons to Tehran, Damascus, or anyone willing to pay is only fitting for North Korea.
Ignoring the whoring nature of the regime, keeping it in power, and naively pursuing a draining diplomatic solution has been an ignorant mistake. For those advocates of diplomacy, we have been down that path under Bill Clinton, who gave Mr. Kim an opportunity in 1994. Since then, Mr. Kim has continued to enhance his WMD programs while blackmailing our allies and us with threats of warfare.
By providing food and energy aid, we, America, are feeding Mr. Kim's soldiers. And by sitting still for the sake of diplomacy, we are giving time for Mr. Kim's weapons programs to grow to frightening heights. By that time, waging any scale of military action would prove to be more difficult.
As America, Great Britain, and our other allies look to face more unfriendly regimes in the years ahead, seeking regime change in North Korea is a priority. Doing so would no doubt bring about a better North Korea for its people and improved security for our Asian allies, not to mention the disappearance of a major weapons proliferator. It would also help our cause of creating a peaceful Middle East and help the security of our steadfast ally in the region, Israel.
Mr. Hyun is a reporter studying in the War Studies department at King's College London.