The Dark Horses of 1994: NORTH KOREA / Kim's weak finger on a big trigger
Saturday 01 January 1994
Suspicions over North Korea's nuclear intentions are based on evidence from defectors and scientists from the former Soviet Union who helped develop the country's nuclear programme, as well as on satellite photographs of facilities at Yongbyon, north of the capital. It seemed reassuring when North Korea, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, finally agreed two years ago to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The outcome, however, was a crisis which has continued ever since.
Pyongyang, it emerged, had gone along with inspection only because it thought it could conceal the evidence of nuclear research for military purposes. Having underestimated modern monitoring techniques, it was caught in a lie.
Communism has collapsed almost everywhere else in the world, and notional adherents such as China and Vietnam ignore its economic principles. Only North Korea and Cuba could be said to remain faithful, and even Pyongyang recently admitted serious economic problems, although it denied reports of food shortages. Visitors have seen signs urging people to eat only two meals a day, and food riots have been rumoured. The hope of catching up with South Korea is a distant dream. The south is smaller, has twice the population and, in 1991, at least seven times the income per head.
President Kim, the centre of a ludicrous personality cult, has recently surrounded himself with more family members. Among those joining his son and designated heir, Kim Jong Il, in the limelight are his brother, his first wife and their son. All three had been out of sight for years. Again, observers can only guess at what is going on.
The US, the only party with which North Korea is prepared to negotiate on its nuclear programme, reports some progress during informal talks in New York. Washington's allies in the region, South Korea and Japan, have not always found the Clinton administration's policy to be coherent, while China, virtually Pyongyang's only friend, has made it clear that it will not go along with economic sanctions should the talks fail.
Even if the nuclear threat can be defused, there remains the danger of a conventional military clash between the two Koreas. Pyongyang's internal repression and economic miseries could bring a bloody Romanian-style collapse. South Korea, fearing a flood of refugees and having witnessed the economic effects of German unification, is urging everyone else not to push its neighbour over the edge.
- 1 Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
- 2 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 5 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery rumours: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Eleven members of same family hospitalised after eating deadly pufferfish
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Phone-hacking: The Piers Morgan connection - Mirror admits some stories during Morgan's tenure may have been obtained by illegal means
Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...