A Foreign Ministry spokesman from North Korea announced the North’s takeaway from the situation in Libya: never give up your nuke program. “The present Libyan crisis teaches the international community a serious lesson. It was fully exposed before the world that ‘Libya′s nuclear dismantlement’ much touted by the U.S. in the past turned out to be a mode of aggression whereby the latter coaxed the former […] to disarm itself and then swallowed it up by force. It proved once again the truth of history that peace can be preserved only when one builds up one′s own strength [i.e. a nuclear weapons program].” Quoted from the North’s official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) website; click here for the full report (the KCNA website is normally blocked in South Korea, so the link will likely not work if you are accessing the site from the South).
The KCNA story has the rare virtue of making a good point: one of the side-effects of the current decision to
give the Navy something to do launch attacks on Libya (whether you believe they are justified or not), combined with Qaddafi’s previous decision to abandon his nuclear program, is going to be strengthening the resolve of countries like North Korea to develop and maintain their own nuclear programs. I would be surprised if Iranian leaders in Tehran and Qom are not drawing similar conclusions.
The State Department, of course, has a decidedly different take. Saying (in a 22 March press briefing) that U.S. involvement in Libya, “has absolutely no connection with them [Libya] renouncing their nuclear program and nuclear weapons.” Later continuing with, “The international community – not the United States, not the IAEA, not the P-5+1 – the international community came together to take action to stop that humanitarian disaster. For me to say that that’s some kind of retribution for giving up nuclear weapons is – I don’t see how the argument holds.”
An artful attempt at spin, in case anyone on the planet actually thinks the attacks are retribution for the Libyans giving up their nuclear program, rather than simply made easier by Qaddafi’s previous decision to abandon his program, but one doubts Pyongyang and Tehran/Qom are so easily fooled. Somewhere Kim Jong-il, who has presided over a humanitarian disaster easily as bad as anything in Libya, is hugging his nuclear scientists. It’s a sad day when the KCNA makes more sense than the State Department.
On a separate note, for a decidedly positive view of the intervention, see Kristof’s Hugs from Libyans column in today’s NY Times.