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Monday, May 12, 2003

The 'Eve' of Destruction

For those who are not old enough to remember the reference here is not to Barry McGuire, but to what might be happening right now in N Korea. Joerg is worried and has been writing to nuclear physicists. He's mailed me about it: I guess he wants me to post:

I had an email exchange with Dr. James Gordon Prather, a nuclear physicist who was deputy assistant secretary for science and technology in the department of the army in the Reagan years.Let me just pass it along to you. I wrote:"What can the U.S. do with respect to North Korea? ... You indicate
that the location of part of the facilities is not even known. The implication would seem to be that Woolsey´s statement to David Corn is correct: talking to "take out North Korea´s nuke capability" is tantamount to talking full-scale war ... William F. Buckley writes: "What is breath-catching is that we may indeed be orienting our policies not to removing the North Korean bomb, but to neutralizing it." I guess that amounts to relying on a missile defense shield - just like Japanese politicians have recently started discussing.

Such a shield would provide a defense against direct military attack - it does not even begin to guard against the prospect of North Korea dealing in plutonium, nukes or blueprints. Essentially Buckley entertains the idea that nuclear non-proliferation can be replaced by nuclear containment. If there is no chance for rollback, then Bush´s rhetoric needs to be read backwards: every nation that is not a declared enemy of the United States will have to be enlisted to partake in the containment effort. Buckley concludes by proclaiming: "Those are fresh charters for the world of 2003." Well, yes: the charters from 2001/2002 would seem to be obsolete already - no pre-emptive strikes against nuclear powers, no credibility for Bush´s grand strategy statement. Such an almost instant loss of relevance is certainly a first in the history of presidential
American foreign policy doctrine."

Dr. Prather´s reply:

"The CIA doesn't know where the Pakistani-origin DPRK uranium-enrichment facilities are. I suspect they are the ones recently identified by the IAEA that are in Iran ... There is no real difference between a uranium-enrichment facility for producing light-water reactor fuel and a facility for producing HEU for nukes. France, Germany and Russia have somehow got to put the IAEA-NSG regime -- which the US-UK have practically destroyed by invading Iraq -- back together again. The only course for the US at the moment seems to be to sign a non-aggression pact with DPRK [guaranteed by Russia-PRC], or go to war."

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