In the latest round of back-and-forth provocations, North Korea announced today it would restart its nuclear program and will no longer hide the fact that its planning to use it to make bombs. The announcement came just two days after Kim Jong-un addressed the Central Committee meeting of the ruling Worker's Party, and one day after the U.S. announced it would send a radar-equipped destroyer, the U.S.S. John S. McCain, to patrol the area. (Not the U.S.S. Fitzgerald, as first reported. Oh, and that's Admirals John S. McCain Sr. and Jr., not the current Senator, who is the third in the line.)
The North shut down its main nuclear processing facility at Yongbyon (seen above), more than five years ago, blowing up the cooling tower in a spectacular press event. Before doing so, it was believed they had stockpiled enough plutonium to make as many as eight nuclear weapons. (At least have since been detonated in underground tests.) Since 2010, they've continued to enrich that plutonium there, but claimed they were simply making reactor fuel for peaceful electricity generation. This time, they're explicitly admitting in a statement released to the public that restarting the reactor is part of their plan to beef up their nuclear arsenal and put themselves on par with the world's other nuclear powers.
The DPRK's nuclear armed forces represent the nation's life which can never be abandoned as long as the imperialists and nuclear threats exist on earth. They are a treasure of a reunified country which can never be traded with billions of dollars.
Obviously, this is the next step of what's become a familiar pattern. The U.N. Security Council sanctions Pyongyang, North Korea declares the Korean war is back on. The U.S. sends B-2 bombers, North Korea points its missiles at Guam. The U.S. sends a destroyer, North Korea decides it needs more nukes. Never mind that the pattern started because the North conducted a nuclear test back in February, creating an excuse to do what they were planning on doing all along anyway.
We're still not on the brink of war, but things are getting more serious. General James Thurman the top U.S. commander stationed in South Korea, the told Martha Raddatz on Good Morning America on Tuesday that he's never seen the border so tense, and he's concerned that a miscalculation or "impulsive decision" could trigger a nasty chain of events.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.