THE SPINE MAY 28, 2010
A seven-member United Nations panel—yes, even a U.N. panel—without stammer and without dodging yesterday accused North Korea of providing banned nuclear and ballistic missile technology to Iran and Syria. The news was reported by the Associated Press, Ha'aretz, the Global Security Newswire of the NTI (an outfit founded by Sen. Richard Lugar and former senator Sam Nunn) and Reuters. The U.N. group also reported “suspicious activities” by and in Myanmar.
The carefully framed accusations followed on the destruction on March 26 of a South Korean naval vessel by a Pyongyang submarine-launched torpedo. Forty-six sailors were killed. In fact, this was an unprovoked massacre.
The world has quite accustomed itself to Kim Jong-il violating the rules of a very dire game without compunction and without obvious cause. News stories report that papa wants his son, Kim Jong-un, to succeed to the North Korean presidency. But, to my knowledge, no one has adequately explained how beating up on its neighbor will assure the kid’s accession in the people’s republic.
The report confirms the nuclear facts about Iran and Syria. Which also means that the U.S. has been negotiating over Iran sanctions with a “People’s China” that is complicit with North Korea’s own conspiracy with Tehran.
Something similar is going on with Damascus. Since the dispatch of Admiral Blair to the history books, John Brennan is now at intelligence center stage. One of his main tropes, as I wrote a few days ago, is the moderating prospects of Syria and Hezbollah. It is also the president’s expectations and the expectations of my old friend, the secretary of state pro tempore Sen. John Kerry. Alas, I believe that they, who’ve been down this road before, will be embarrassed once more...and maybe two or three times. I am afraid that theirs is not an analysis based on facts and circumstance but hopes based on, well, hopes.
I don’t know how the administration has evaluated the Syrian nuclear installation taken out by Israel a while back. I do know that no one seemed in extremis about it, even though it was a big and intricate operation, both in the air and on the ground. In fact, the U.S. and the Europeans seemed quite content to have had Olmert and Barak relieve them of a terrible headache. Now that it has been certified that President Assad is once again trafficking in atomic waters, Obama cannot be happy. Still, a lot rides on American confidence in the atomic reasonableness of the Damascus dictatorship. But that also depends on how Moscow, Syria’s historic patron in mischief, will behave. My guess is that it won’t behave well.
What will the Security Council do with its fresh news about Pyongyang’s ties to Damascus and Tehran? The likelihood is that the Council will ignore or defer or disdain. No one is really concerned, not even the United States of America. At least not Barack Obama’s U.S.A.
Now, of course, Israel has a bomb...and probably many bombs. But, like Pakistan and India which also have nukes, it hasn’t signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Just a few hours before Memorial Day weekend started, Washington reached an agreement with the Arab states to compel Israel to sign on to the self-denying treaty.
Ostensibly, this would de-nuclearize the Middle East. A pig’s ass, it would. Tehran wants a bomb, no matter what. And, then, the big Arab states will join the race. To be sure, Saudi Arabia will not make it. It will buy it. There's more money in the country than brains. There will be a big bomb race in the region...and not because of Israel, which has had nuclear capacity for fifty years, but because Iran is right onto having the weapon and is prepared to use it against its theological enemies.