As the world grapples with how to deal with North Korea, some hopeful news is emerging in the long-running standoff. A major worry of the world has been that North Korea will restart their nuclear weapons program at a rapid pace in order to provide a bigger threat in order to make the western powers give concession. In what appears to be a major blow to the North Korean regime, it is being said that North Korea’s nuclear ambitions are being "significantly delayed" according a confidential report by a UN panel of experts.
The report will be some welcome news for U.S. negotiators as they seek to involve China in the economic and political sanctions against the regime. The sanctions are thought to be crucial in the effort to halt the North Korean’s regime’s nuclear program and bring them to the negotiating table in a position that is advantageous to the West and helping blunt the cycle of escalation and de-escalation that marks the Korean standoff.
The report claims that, "While the imposition of sanctions has not halted the development of nuclear and ballistic missile programs, it has in all likelihood considerably delayed [North Korea's] timetable and, through the imposition of financial sanctions and the bans on the trade in weapons, has choked off significant funding which would have been channeled into its prohibited activities."
The icy standoff on the Korean peninsula has cooled down from the heated rhetoric that emerged in the past few months. Perhaps the most visible sign of this was the visit of a Japanese political diplomat, Isao Iijima, making a sudden rare visit to North Korea. Prime Minister Abe has said that he would be willing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in order to deal with North Korean kidnapping of Japanese citizens.
But even though the standoff is not at the fevered pitch it was been in the recent months the report still urged vigilance against North Korean attempt to procure materials for its weapon’s program. It gave a list of key items that authorities should prevent the regime from acquiring, such as ring magnet, frequency changers, high-strength aluminum alloy, and various other items that are needed for the nuclear program.
In other good news regarding North Korea’s nuclear ambitions a U.S. military official said on Wednesday that North Korea had not developed a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on one of their ballistic missiles. The miniaturization of a nuclear warhead would be a worse case scenario for western governments as it would drastically increase the range at which North Korea could threaten with its nuclear arsenal and massively increase its bargaining power.
The North Korean standoff seems looked into the same cycle of escalation and de-escalation that it has been engaged in since the end of the Korean War. The only possible change is that China may begin to enforce tougher sanction similar to the U.S. and other countries in the west practice. China has already implemented several economics sanctions, but the State Department’s senior envoy to North Korea visited China recently to discuss the North Korea situation.
Due to the tight reign the North Korean regime keeps on information forecasting, the future direction of the Korean standoff is very difficult at best. The U.S. and other nations will keep attempting to bring indirect pressure to bear to get North Korea to the negotiating table. Hopefully direct methods will not have to be utilized to catastrophic effect on the Korean peninsula.