Sunday, September 03, 2017

Worlds apart

This morning I woke up to the news that North Korea has tested a thermonuclear device, generating a 6.3 magnitude explosion according to the latest USGS estimations. While not surprising in any way, it once again underscores the urgent need for real negotiations. As I suggested already in April, I think Trump has a unique chance to do something good here as he is not as constrained by the kind of commitment to multilateral regimes that have tied the hands of his predecessors. For one thing, it is now beyond debate that North Korea is a nuclear power and should be recognized as such. Thus, moving forward means abandoning much of the thinking behind the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Only with a permanent peace treaty between North Korea and the US in place is there any hope of normalization and, ultimately, denuclearization. For every day, waiting becomes less and less of an option as North Korea continues to expand its nuclear stockpile and the risk for miscalculations increases. And since the only meaningful pre-emptive action would be a massive nuclear assault, saying that a "military option" is still "on the table" is just plain stupid.

On a personal level, I used to live with this continuous crisis in the back of my head for three years. Suddenly protected by 7,000 km, its significance shifts from immediate physical vulnerability to what is says about our long-term future as a species. If this conflict can be defused, then I think we have good reasons to be very optimistic about that future. Obviously, the opposite is very much true.


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