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Peace, Not a Peace Offensive

TOKYO – When a North Korean dove clutching an olive branch suddenly appears, the world should challenge it to reveal its hidden talons. This is the only prudent stance for South Korea to adopt when face-to-face negotiations with the North begin on February 8. For what Kim is now offering is not peace, but a “peace offensive” – a tactic used by the North repeatedly since the armistice of 1953 in order to sow division whenever the regime’s adversaries have demonstrated unity and resolve.

Kim’s less-than-innocent intentions are demonstrated by his regime’s secret construction of a massive uranium-enrichment facility, containing more than 2,000 centrifuges, revealed to Stanford University’s Siegfried Hecker, a former director of America’s Los Alamos National Laboratory. The existence of the facility seems as clear a declaration as possible that the regime is committed to achieving the capacity to intimidate its neighbors with its nuclear arsenal.

Some believe that North Korea has begun displaying its growing nuclear threat in order to secure the succession to power of Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il’s rotund, twenty-something youngest son. But, given how long this facility must have been under construction, this cannot possibly be the sole, or even the main, motivation.

The “Dear Leader’s” key objective is most likely to secure his own position, given the North’s dire economic condition. For it now seems that the only way for Kim Jong-il to defend his family dynasty against any domestic challenge is to make a show of force as a nuclear power.