Last week, North Korea let the cat out of the bag. Pyongyang had been developing a nuclear weapons program despite signing an international treaty that signified otherwise. This revelation means two members of President George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” pose a threat to their neighbors, some of which are United States allies.
North Korea, however, is willing to open dialogue with South Korea and peacefully resolve any issues surrounding the nuclear program. The United States should let these neighbors work out their differences and instead focus on Iraq.
While the North Koreans have openly revealed their weapons research, Iraq has tried time and again to keep its arsenal under wraps. North Korea shares borders with China, South Korea and Russia. At best, it may be able to launch missiles to Japan. Most of these nations have nuclear weapons of their own, and if not, their armies could quell any North Korean aggression quickly.
Iraq, on the other hand, borders six countries in a tightly packed, ever-tense Middle East. The Iraqis see an American invasion as inevitable. Every skirmish in the region has the potential to ignite a powder keg. That’s without taking biological warfare and nuclear weapons into consideration. Saddam Hussein poses a threat to his neighbors and our allies in the region.
North Korea’s revelation was not a threat so much as a statement that it wants a little respect — probably undeserved — and to be left alone. Iraq, on the other hand, is dancing around the question and basically playing with fire in a fertilizer plant. East Asia can and will take care of any issues regarding North Korea’s nuclear program. There are enough large, prosperous, stable nations to handle that without much U.S. intervention.
Instead of worrying about an upstart in a stable region, the United States needs to keep its attention on the guy in the fertilizer plant who’s trying to hide that blowtorch.