Letter: Unpalatable action against North Korea

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The Independent Online
From Mr Lionel Bloch

Sir: Elizabeth Young's strictures (letter, 10 June) about the iniquities of the proposed United Nations sanctions against North Korea are misconceived. It is most unlikely that the UN will endorse an effective boycott and unilateral US action - should it ever come to it - will be merely a toothless, feel-good Clintonian posture.

The real problem facing the entire world is how to do away with nuclear weapons acquired or developed by rogue dictators. Humanitarian pleas, UN resolutions, even visits by Jimmy Carter, are all a waste of time. The futility of UN sanctions against Iraq has demonstrated beyond doubt that despots such as Saddam Hussein will not be moved by the deprivations inflicted on their subjects.

The real choice is therefore much starker: either the Western powers (we cannot count on Russia and China) allow Kim-Il-Sung to go ahead with his nuclear arming unhindered, or they crush his arsenal by military force. If his atomic installations were taken out by conventional missiles, coupled with a clear threat that any retaliation would be met by an overwhelming nuclear response, the preventive strike would not lead to an escalation.

Dare we risk such an unpalatable action? The answer must be in the affirmative if we dare to consider the alternatives of doing nothing.

Yours faithfully,


London, W1

10 June