North Korea is likely to export nuclear weapons
components and fuel to the Middle East in an effort to earn hard currency and there is little the United States can do about it, a panel of experts has concluded.
A report by the Council on Foreign Relations warned that Pyongyang can
be expected to use its newly-acquired nuclear weapons capability for sales
to North Korea's traditional clients including Iran, Libya and Syria.
"Pyongyang might sell fissile material, nuclear technology, or completed
weapons to any state or non-state actor with money," the report, entitled
"Meeting the North Korean Nuclear Challenge," said. "It has little else for
In 2001, North Korea was reported to have earned nearly $600 million in
missile exports, most of them to the Middle East. The four most requested
missiles from North Korea have been the medium-range Scud C and D models,
the intermediate-range No Dong and the longer-range Taepo Dong-1, according to Middle East Newsline.
The report, drafted by an independent group of former U.S. officials and
diplomats, said the United States has limited options in stopping
Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program. The task force said the United States
might have to be resigned with North Korea's nuclear program and focus on
stopping nuclear exports.
Among those drafting the report were former U.S. Amb. to Thailand Morton Abramowitz, former U.S. Amb. to South Korea Donald Gregg .
Four members of the task force, including former U.S. Amb. to China Winston Lord and former National Security Advisor Richard Allen, registered disagreements with the conclusions.
"The situation has drifted toward one in which the United States may
have little choice but to live with a North Korea with more nuclear weapons
and to find ways to prevent it from exporting its fissile material," the
report, released on Monday, said. "The task force believes the United States
should strenuously try to prevent that outcome."
The report recommends that the United States form a common policy with
North Korea's neighbors. Such a policy would promote a settlement to end
North Korea's nuclear and missile weapons program in exchange for
aid to and diplomatic relations with Pyongyang as well as assurances that
the United States would not attack the North. Washington should also offer
to compensate Pyongyang for the end of missile programs and exports.
"Should negotiations fail and North Korea reprocess its spent fuel or
test a nuclear weapon, the United States should seek to secure more
meaningful sanctions and consider imposing a blockade designed to intercept
nuclear exports and other illicit or deadly exports," the report said.
"Allied support would be critical."
But several members of the task force dissented and warned that the
United States would be unable to maintain a naval blockade of North Korea.
At least one member called the idea of a U.S. siege on North Korea a
"For how long, exactly, should the United States maintain this
blockade?" Mitchell Reiss, a former U.S. government senior adviser on North
Korea, asked. "A few months? Years? Forever? And all the while North Korea
continues to add to its nuclear arsenal? In short, a blockade would not
prevent the North from increasing its nuclear stockpile and it would not
give us any confidence that fissile materials or nuclear weapons were not
About 90 percent of dual-use systems required for North Korea's
strategic programs is said to come from Japan. On Tuesday, Japanese
authorities said 10 Japanese companies tried to export to Pyongyang advanced
technology products that could have been used for North Korea's weapons of
Reiss warned that many in the U.S. foreign policy community prefer to
ignore North Korea's potential for war. He said Pyongyang might be stopped
only be military means.
"The fact is that North Korea may soon acquire a significant nuclear
arsenal with the potential to export bombs around the globe, including to
terrorist organizations," Reiss said. "This may well justify our having to
change the Kim Jong-Il regime through military means. Before we reach that
point, though, it would be useful to learn if we could change the way the
regime behaves through diplomatic means."