Leading article: A reversion to type in North Korea

 

Share
Related Topics

Less than a month ago, after bilateral talks with the US, North Korea agreed to a moratorium on its nuclear missile programme and the return of UN inspectors, in exchange for American food aid. Could it be, some wondered, that the pariah state's new leader Kim Jong-un was signalling a change of course, one that might lead to a resumption of disarmament talks and, perhaps, an end to his country's isolation? The answer, alas, appears to be no.

Pyongyang's recent announcement that it will launch a satellite in mid-April to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the regime's founder, is a cynical breach of the moratorium. A satellite may not be a missile, but the launch process is virtually identical. Assuming it goes ahead, North Korea's relations with the West will be back in the deep freeze.

In fact, Pyongyang has returned to a familiar cycle: hints of concessions and then a fresh provocation, carefully timed to steal the headlines. In this case, the controversy over the satellite launch has, as was no doubt intended, completely overshadowed the nuclear security summit in neighbouring South Korea.

President Obama may castigate the North for "bad behaviour", but that behaviour is likely to continue. For Kim Jong-un, in office for barely three months, the absolute priority is to consolidate power. "It's not exactly clear who's calling the shots," Mr Obama correctly noted on Sunday. But one thing is certain: if Mr Kim is to secure the family dynasty, he must keep his military happy. That means ever more sophisticated weaponry – albeit at the price of ever more misery for his people.

The North's human rights record has, if anything, worsened. China remains the one country that could force Pyongyang to change its ways, but although it yesterday agreed to co-ordinate with the US over any "potential provocation" from North Korea, Beijing has no interest in a collapse of the regime. Mr Obama used the South Korean summit to outline his vision of a future world without nuclear weapons and to reiterate the US commitment to cutting its arsenal. But the future for North Korea and the West looked set to be a repeat of the past.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Now back to the big question: what's wrong with the eurozone?

Hamish McRae
Good old days? Social justice had real meaning for those who lived through the war  

Social justice is political pie in the sky

DJ Taylor
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam