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North Korea Warned On Proliferation Amid Doubts

President Bush warned North Korea against selling nuclear materials, naming Iran and al-Qaeda as possible recipients of Kim Jong Il’s wares. The president said, “If we get intelligence that they’re about to transfer a nuclear weapon, we would stop the transfer, and we would deal with the ships that were taking the — or the airplane that was dealing with taking the material to somebody.” He was then asked if that meant strikes against the communist regime as well, to which he responded, “I’d just say it’s a grave consequence.”

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld cast open doubt about the ability to stop North Korean proliferation abroad regardless of inspection efforts, calling the goal “practically impossible.” Bringing the discussion into the context of continued Chinese and Russian objections to tangible counter-proliferation efforts through inspection, Rumsfeld said, “We have not seen that kind of cooperation that would have a high probability of being able to prevent a continued proliferation.”

And as satellite intelligence suggests that preparations for a second nuclear bomb test may well be underway, Jane’s Defence Weekly’s Joseph Bermudez says that a second test is only logical considering the first test’s failure. “If you look at what Pakistan did in 1998, the initial explosion had failed. It didn’t get to full yield—it didn’t have full explosive power—so they … carried on a series of follow-up tests validating their design.”

But Assistant US Secretary of State Christopher Hill seemed to pour water on the idea that a second North Korean detonation attempt is in the near-term cards. “We have always felt that the North Koreans could conduct a test when [they] wanted to but we do not have any indication that it’s going to happen imminently,” Hill said. While the likelihood of any coming nuclear test is debated in the West, putting an end to the days of Kim Jong-Il remains a hot debate topic in Chinese circles.

The Christian Science Monitor turned to the UN’s World Food Program to hear that, for the communist dictatorship’s citizens, North Korea potentially heads toward hunger once more as a result of sanctions in the face of the coming winter. The WFP’s(World Food Program) regional director for Asia told the newspaper that “There is relatively little humanitarian assistance going in now. The willingness of donors to meet those needs has not been very strong.” Kim Jong-Il effectively holds the North Korean people hostage, sacrificed for and punished by his nuclear arms ambitions.

And as Japan looks on having imposed its own sanctions on North Korea well ahead of the eventual UN Security Council consensus, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sought to calm regional fears of Japan potentially seeking its own nuclear defenses. After meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso, she assured Japan and the region “that the United States has the will and the capability to meet the full range and I underscore the full range of its deterrent and security commitments to Japan.”