Monitoring developments in international security

Posts tagged “North Korea

North Korea and Iran trading ballistic missile technology

The countries presenting two of America’s biggest diplomatic challenges have been trading ballistic missile technology according to a new UN report leaked to the media. The trans-shipment occurred through ‘a neighboring third-party country’ the report says. Some diplomats identified that country as China and notably the paper, which represents the findings of an international panel, lacks the signature of the Chinese expert assigned to the panel. While there has long been speculation about illegal trade between the two countries, this report represents the latest official allegation of a violation of UN sanctions.

The Iranian Shahab 3, whose warhead design similarities with a recently-showcased North Korean missile prompted further speculation that the two countries had been sharing ballistic missile technology.

Importantly, the developments further complicate matters involving diplomatic efforts to convince Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program and increase pressure on Tehran to avoid pursuing one. Russia and China, two permanent members of the UN Security Council, have traditionally proven reluctant to enforce sanctions on Iran and North Korea and have recently stifled the publication of UN expert reports on the two countries. The unofficial word that China served as a transfer point is sure to embarrass Beijing and no doubt lent weight to the decision of the Chinese expert to remain unsupportive of his panel’s findings. According to UNSC diplomats, China was unlikely to allow the report to be published. Nonetheless, the findings will add further evidence to inefficacy of the current sanctions against North Korea and the need to reestablish negotiations surrounding its nuclear program. And while Iran remains, by all accounts, at least a few years from a nuclear test, the report should also serve as a reminder of the need to keep diplomatic pressure on Tehran from continuing down the path towards a weapon.

News story links: Reuters China Post BBC

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Lessons of Libya


Coalition action against Libya

In October 2003, the US intercepted a German-flagged freighter bound for Libya. Onboard the ship were thousands of parts for uranium enrichment centrifuges. Two months later Libya announced that it was discontinuing all of its WMD programs and would comply with the NPT. The announcement was seen as a diplomatic victory for the UK and US, who had been working for months in secret negotiations with Libya.

Just two months ago a NATO-led force began air strikes against Libyan forces loyal to Gaddafi. Although UN resolution 1973 specifically authorizes member states to act in order to protect civilians, the air strikes have served as de-facto support of the rebels. Across the Middle East, protests continue. Indeed, there are daily reports of protesters being killed by government forces in Syria and Yemen. Yet forces have only intervened in a country that not 10 years ago dismantled its WMD program.

Countries such as North Korea and Iran are sure to take notice of this. North Korea in particular has taken paranoid indoctrination against the West to a national level. If the six party talks ever do resume, how can the North negotiate in good faith when the US is now bombing a country that less than eight years ago it was praising for abandoning its nuclear program? Meanwhile Iran is facing a popular movement against its government while seemingly remaining ambivalent about the future of its nuclear program. What lessons will it draw from the coalition action in Libya?


News and Links

On days I don’t have a post prepared but still feel the need to update, I’ll post some relevant news articles and let others do the talking for me.

Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) meets with Hamas leader Khaled Mashal in Egypt.

    Palestine: Hamas and Fatah, the two Palestinian factions, have reached a unity agreement. This is no doubt an important step towards getting state recognition for Palestine. Al Jazeera has an article on Netanyahu’s take on the deal. (spoiler: He doesn’t like it) Britain and France seemed to welcome the developments. Hamas, however, is still listed as a terrorist organization on the US State Department’s website and publicly mourned the recent death of Osama bin Laden.

    Afghanistan/Pakistan: The New York times has a brief but interesting article regarding the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Libya: A prosecutor for the ICC has petitioned for an arrest warrant for Gaddafi and two others for war crimes. While the prosecutor specifically cited examples of systematically killing unarmed civilians, there have also been recent allegations that pro-Gaddafi soldiers are using rape as a weapon against the Libyan populace.

    South Korea/North Korea: South Korea has conducted a routine artillery exercise on islands near the disputed sea boundary line with North Korea. The North did not publicly respond to the exercise but some aspect of the impoverished nation will likely be a topic for the next update, so I thought I’d link this.