North Korea proliferation is main concern

NY Times:

The United States is pressing China to consider taking a variety of severe sanctions against North Korea, including the inspection of suspect ships and planes, as it tries to ratchet up the global response to Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test, administration officials said Thursday.

But it is not clear that the Chinese government has the stomach for a heightened showdown with North Korea, these officials said, even though its criticism of the underground test on Monday was unusually vehement.

The administration’s initiative reflects a belief that the greatest threat posed by a nuclear North Korea is the leakage of critical weapons parts or fissile material to other states or terrorist organizations, rather than the prospect of North Korea’s making one of its neighbors a target for a bomb. President Obama’s national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones, described the proliferation threat in some detail in a speech in Washington on Wednesday evening.

The White House has not said publicly whether it supports enforcing a 2006 United Nations Security Council resolution, passed after the North’s first nuclear test, that permits the inspection of ships suspected of carrying missile parts or nuclear technology.

Those operations could be tricky: North Korea has said it will regard such an action as an act of war, and American intelligence about North Korean shipments has been poor. The North’s involvement in the construction of a Syrian nuclear reactor went undetected for years, until shortly before Israel destroyed the reactor in September 2007.

...
The North Korean reaction to South Korea's decision to join forces in inspecting North Korean cargo was so bellicose precisely because, the Norks plan to make money through commerce in nuclear weapons. The country is so desperate for money that it views these exports as the only means it has to save itself. Iran and Syria are potential customers for these exports. The regime is so desperate for cash that it would sell the weapons to terrorist too.

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