North Korea's August 31 missile test that flew over
Japan highlights a growing missile threat to Japan, South Korea,
and the United States. This test follows North Korea's demands for
$500 million to halt its missile exports, as well as threats to
revive its nuclear weapons program if it does not get more money.
Such blatant extortion demonstrates the failure of U.S. policies
that have sought to appease the North by promises of aid and trade.
It is time for the United States to stop all aid to North Korea
until it can be verified that the regime has halted its missile and
nuclear programs. In addition, the Clinton Administration should
end its opposition to effective missile defenses for Americans and
work with Japan and South Korea to create a Northeast Asia missile
goal of North Korea's Taepo Dong program is to build a missile that
can reach the United States. The missile tested on August 31 flew
about 1,000 miles; its range is estimated to be about 1,200 miles,
and it could carry a nuclear or a large chemical/biological
warhead. Range estimates for the Taepo Dong-2 run from 2,100 miles
to 3,600 miles--enough to reach Alaska. The congressionally
mandated commission on missile threats led by former Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld noted that the Taepo Dong-2 could be tested
within six months of a decision to do so.
Meanwhile, the Taepo Dong-1 already can
reach all U.S. bases in South Korea and Japan, as far out as
Okinawa. To make this point, the August 31 test flew very close to
Misawa Air Force Base, used by U.S. F-16s of the 35th Fighter Wing.
Okinawa would be important as a strategic reserve area for U.S.
forces aiding South Korea if it is attacked by the North.
North Korea also can be expected to sell
its missiles. North Korean missile technology is helping Iran,
which on July 21 tested its 600- to 900-mile-range Shahab-3
missile. Technology from the Taepo Dong-1 could help Iran to build
a 1,200-mile-range Shahab-4 that could reach Israel and Central
Europe. Pakistan purchased North Korea's 600-mile-range Nodong
missile, which it renamed the Ghauri. Pakistan's test of this
missile in April sparked nuclear tests by India and then Pakistan
in May. And Pakistan's estimated 1,200-mile-range Ghaznavi missile
may turn out to be a Taepo Dong-1.
Another of North Korea's motivations for
the August 31 test was to extort more money from the West, in
particular the United States. Last June, North Korea's Central News
Agency bluntly stated that North Korea would continue its missile
exports unless the United States ended its economic embargo and
made a "compensation for the losses to be caused by discontinued
missile exports." North Korean officials told visiting U.S.
congressional staff members in late August that this "compensation"
should be $500 million per year.
North Korea has seen that extortion works.
It used a promise to suspend its nuclear weapons program to entice
the Clinton Administration into the October 1994 Agreed Framework
in which Japan, South Korea, and the United States would pay the
North up to $6 billion for fuel and two light-water nuclear
reactors. The United States has given North Korea $105 million to
support this agreement, and the Administration has requested $35
million for fiscal year 1999. The United States is a key donor of
food aid to North Korea: $110 million so far. Yet the North refuses
to consider minimal economic reforms to feed its people or to
reduce its million-man army aimed at South Korea. It continues
submarine incursions and commando raids into South Korea, and the
North recently hinted it would revive its nuclear weapons program
if its demands for money are not met.
AGAINST NORTH KOREA'S
MISSILES AND BLACKMAIL
Despite a long train of North Korean
provocations, and its recent missile test over Japan, the Clinton
Administration remains committed to the Agreed Framework. It is
time for the United States to resist threats and blackmail. The
Suspend all aid to North Korea
It is time to suspend all U.S. Agreed Framework-related aid and
humanitarian assistance until it can be verified that North Korea
has ended its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs. Japan
already has halted aid. There should be no more assistance from the
West until North Korea terminates its nuclear and missile programs
and shows a commitment to real peace with South Korea and internal
Commit to a near-term U.S. national
missile defense system
North Korea's missile test should make it clear that the
Clinton Administration must end its opposition to aneffective
missile defense for the United States. The Administration should
end the folly of its adherence to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty, which no longer is legally binding but which the
Administration uses to constrain the development and deployment of
Build an Asian missile defense
North Korea's emerging long-range missile capability, and
China's ballistic missile and cruise missile modernization effort,
demand that the United States join with its allies in Asia to build
a missile defense network. The Clinton Administration should urge
Japan and South Korea to purchase soon-to-be developed U.S. land-
or sea-based interceptor missiles that can be coordinated with U.S.
antimissile, early warning, and command systems.
missile test on August 31 shows it may be only a few years before
North Korea can build missiles capable of reaching the United
States. In the meantime, North Korea already has a new weapon that
can threaten Japan and South Korea and be sold to other rogue
states. At a minimum, the United States should suspend all aid to
North Korea until its ruling regime makes verifiable commitments to
end its missile and nuclear programs. And North Korea's growing
missile threat means the Clinton Administration must stop making
excuses and begin building effective missile defenses for all
Americans and U.S. allies.
-- Richard D. Fisher,
Jr., is Acting Director of The Asian Studies Center at The