North Korea: It’s Time to Say ‘Atoms Rest In Peace’

Nikhil Desai

Nikhil Desai is an energy economist splitting his time between the US and India.

Nikhil Desai’s comment on ‘DPRK Nuclear Energy in the Context of a Proposed Peace Settlement’ by Sharon Squassoni

These proposed options seem to assume rational policy-making in a reasonably predictable scenarios. North Korea, on the other hand, has started a poker game (see David Piling in FT – ) that nobody knows how it would play out. Yes,at some point it would be nice to see Pyongyang sit down with the rest of the world, but a lot more would happen between now and then, and impossible to imagine just what.

I find it rather grotesque that the same NPT that got us all in this mess – allowing North Korea’s unrestricted access to and use of nuclear technology – is assumed as the framework for these options, and its “right” to nuclear power is taken for granted (as under the NPT). Sounds like Ahmadinejad claiming “it is treason and betray of mankind to deny nations who need access to nuclear energy that right”.

Atoms for PeaceIf nuclear weapons have no military usefulness – even in North Korea’s planning – it is no longer worthwhile to distinguish the so-called “peaceful” uses of nuclear energy (other than for medical, irradiation and similar purposes). Both are 20th Century legacy technologies we need to worry about burying rather than letting them fester further.

Re-admitting North Korea in the NPT only sets a bad precedent of giving in to a kid’s tantrums. Imagine trying to sell to the US public on the argument “We re-admitted North Korea to the NPT, because they wanted to buy nuclear reactors from China. By the way, Bangladesh and Vietnam are getting nuclear power technology from Russia. We see proliferation of nuclear energy as a great export opportunity.”

I read somewhere that South Korea is a country with an army, North Korea an army with a country. NPT is a relic – many countries, no army.

It is not 1954 any more. From Atoms for Peace, we should now turn to Atoms Rest In Peace.




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