Indignation over N. Korea’s 3rd nuclear test rings hypocritical and hollow

(Reuters)North Korea conducted its third nuclear test on Tuesday in defiance of U.N. resolutions, angering the United States and Japan and likely to infuriate its only major ally, China, and increase penalties against Pyongyang.

But I find the indignation from all countries and the castigation of the North Koreans for a “provocative” and “dangerous” and “destabilising” action less than convincing. “This is in defiance of the UN Security Council resolutions” is the current refrain but it smacks of bully politics and is not rational. Of course the prevailing reality of international affairs is that “might is right”. Whether it is Iraq invading Kuwait or the US invading Iraq or France invading Mali or Russia invading Georgia or Chinese and Japanese  maneuverings around their disputed islands, the ultimate arbiter of international relations is still military strength and the readiness to use force. Force of argument comes a poor second and simple lying a la Bush/Blair is used to bolster military actions.

Israel and her friends are understandably disturbed about the possibility of Iran testing and deploying nuclear weapons. But their threats and exhortations for Iran to refrain from the nuclear path obviously is to maintain their military advantage. But it smacks of hypocrisy and carries little logical weight so long as they maintain their own stocks of nuclear weapons.

The US and Russia maintain their overwhelming stockpiles of weapons while China maintains (and even increases) its own. Pakistan and India will not give up their weapons and there is domestic pressure for India to be at least as “strong” as China and for Pakistan to be at least as “strong” as India. Israel, of course,  will not even admit to having a stockpile and will never permit its crushing military superiority in the Middle East to be undermined. For the UK and France it is now just a matter of lost pride and national ego to maintain their remaining nuclear weapons capability.

Since 16th July 1945 over 2,000 nuclear tests have been carried out all over the world by 10 countries.

  • The United States conducted 1,032 tests between 1945 and 1992.
  • The Soviet Union carried out 715 tests between 1949 and 1990.
  • The United Kingdom carried out 45 tests between 1952 and 1991.
  • France carried out 210 tests between 1960 and 1996.
  • China carried out 45 tests between 1964 and 1996.
  • Israel and South Africa carried out a nuclear test in the South Atlantic in 1979
  • India conducted two tests in 1998 (India had also conducted one so-called peaceful nuclear explosion in 1974.)
  • Pakistan conducted two tests in 1998.
  • The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea announced that it had conducted a nuclear test in 2006 and again in 2009 and now one in 2013.

One estimate of nuclear weapons worldwide (as of December 2012) is here.

World Nuclear Stockpile Infographic

World Nuclear Stockpile Infographic:


Under NATO nuclear weapons sharing, the United States has provided nuclear weapons for Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey to deploy and store. This involves pilots and other staff of the “non-nuclear” NATO states practicing, handling, and delivering the U.S. nuclear bombs, and adapting non-U.S. warplanes to deliver U.S. nuclear bombs.

Personally I believe that the N. Korean nuclear program is due to 2 things:

  1. a paranoia about what the South will do, and
  2. an attempt to develop a better bargaining position before opening up

But I have difficulty to see their 3rd nuclear test as any great threat to world peace (compared say to the possibility of Israel bombing Iran or the Arab Spring going wrong or an expanding African adventure for France and other European countries longing for a return to colonial times).

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