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Next Crisis: North Korea 

February 9, 2016
Plain English Version
Commuters walk past a television screen showing a broadcast of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's New Year speech, at a railroad station in Seoul on January 1, 2016. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said raising living standards was his number one priority in an annual New Year's address on January 1 that avoided any explicit reference to the country's nuclear weapons programme. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE / AFP / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

Commuters walk past a television screen showing a broadcast of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s New Year speech. UNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

What does Kim Jong-un want? He is the dictator (known as the “Dear Leader”) of North Korea. North Korea is a poor and sometimes starving country. It is under his absolute rule.

Last month he set off a nuclear device. Last week he launched a missile. In time, such a missile might well be able to deliver a nuclear bomb to the United States.

Kim Jong-un seems to enjoy making other nations crazy. China is North Korea’s best friend. However, even China condemns these illegal tests. China’s biggest fear is that North Korea will unravel, sending millions of North Koreans into China.

South Korea and Japan are the biggest enemies of North Korea. They want to begin deploying defenses against missiles.

The United Nations Security Council will meet on the next steps to deal with North Korea. Over the years, the U.S. has tried to figure out what might work. Whenever the U.S. makes a deal to deliver food or other help, the “Dear Leader” violates the terms.

The most effective U.S. weapon is economic sanctions. President Obama may want to increase them. South Korea and Japan want better missiles. China opposes both these moves. How much is Mr. Obama willing to push China?

Any Security Council resolution has to be approved by China. As he has in the past, Kim Jong-un has the world over a barrel. The West did not want to go to war with Iran and its nuclear program. Neither does it want to wage war on North Korea.

The West is watching Iran. No such deal seems possible with North Korea. The question is: is Kim Jong-un rational or is he mad?

What is to be done?

Source: The Wall Street Journal February 7, 2016

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