‘IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly’ has released its assessment of North Korea’s light water nuclear reactor.
Of course, Jane’s appraisal goes very much in the way of drumming up the scare of increasing North Korea’s nuclear stockpile. Translation: more fissible material to build more bombs.
Yet, the Soviets and the Clinton administration did promise to build light water reactors for the DPRK a generation and more ago. They never lived up to their promises. One, the Soviet Union collapse; two, the US bet that after the death of Kim Il Sung and the ill fated beginning of Kim Jong il with economic collapse and famine, North Korea would fall on its own sword. It didn’t.
Like laser technology which has military and civilian applications, light water reactions do too. It is more likely that North Korea’s light water reactor will be a strong tool to renovate its rusting and outmoded infrastructure for providing electricity.
Better power will aliment Kim Jung eun’s plans to accelerate economic development as North Koreans define it, whilst keeping up its military arm since the country without a peace treaty is still at war with the US and South Korea.
Already the US attempt to marginalise and encircle North Korea is cracking. Japan is willing to talk with North Korea about substantive political differences. Even in South Korea, which never signed the 1953 Armistice Agreement, restive investors are looking to infuse capital into the North, to steal the thunder of the Chinese who are pouring money into port infrastructure, mineral development, and the like.
Already the young marshal Kim has added a good pinch of perplexity among ‘seasoned’ North Korean specialists by taking small, but significant steps which show that the DPRK can, does, and will think outside the box.
The shame is on the US North Korean clerisy for being bellicose and unable to think beyond the current orthodoxy in policy towards North Korea.