Libya: The Forgotten Reason North Korea Desperately Wants Nuclear Weapons

Authored by Ted Galen Carpenter via The National Interest,

The United States and its allies continue to cajole and threaten North Korea to negotiate an agreement that would relinquish its growing nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.

The latest verbal prodding came from President Trump during his joint press conference with South Korean president Moon Jae-in. Trump urged Pyongyang to “come to the negotiating table,” and asserted that it “makes sense for North Korea to do the right thing.” The “right thing” Trump and his predecessors have always maintained, is for North Korea to become nonnuclear.

It is unlikely that the DPRK will ever return to nuclear virginity. Pyongyang has multiple reasons for retaining its nukes. For a country with an economy roughly the size of Paraguay’s, a bizarre political system that has no external appeal, and an increasingly antiquated conventional military force, a nuclear-weapons capability is the sole factor that provides prestige and a seat at the table of international affairs. There is one other crucial reason for the DPRK’s truculence, though. North Korean leaders simply do not trust the United States to honor any agreement that might be reached.

Unfortunately, there are ample reasons for such distrust.

North Korean leaders have witnessed how the United States treats nonnuclear adversaries such as Serbia and Iraq. But it was the U.S.-led intervention in Libya in 2011 that underscored to Pyongyang why achieving and retaining a nuclear-weapons capability might be the only reliable way to prevent a regime-change war directed against the DPRK.

Partially in response to Washington’s war that ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the spring of 2003, ostensibly because of a threat posed by Baghdad’s “weapons of mass destruction,” Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi seemed to capitulate regarding such matters. He signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in December of that year and agreed to abandon his country’s embryonic nuclear program. In exchange, the United States and its allies lifted economic sanctions and pledged that they no longer sought to isolate Libya.

Qaddafi was welcomed back into the international community once he relinquished his nuclear ambitions.

That reconciliation lasted less than a decade. When one of the periodic domestic revolts against Qaddafi’s rule erupted again in 2011, Washington and its NATO partners argued that a humanitarian catastrophe was imminent (despite meager evidence of that scenario), and initiated a military intervention. It soon became apparent that the official justification to protect innocent civilians was a cynical pretext, and that another regime-change war was underway. The Western powers launched devastating air strikes and cruise-missile attacks against Libyan government forces. NATO also armed rebel units and assisted the insurgency in other ways.

Although all previous revolts had fizzled, extensive Western military involvement produced a very different result this time. The insurgents not only overthrew Qaddafi, they captured, tortured and executed him in an especially grisly fashion. Washington’s response was astonishingly flippant. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton quipped: “We came, we saw, he died.”

The behavior of Washington and its allies in Libya certainly did not give any incentive to North Korea or other would-be nuclear powers to abandon such ambitions in exchange for U.S. paper promises for normal relations. Indeed, North Korea promptly cited the Libya episode as a reason why it needed a deterrent capability—a point that Pyongyang has reiterated several times in the years since Muammar el-Qaddafi ouster. There is little doubt that the West’s betrayal of Qaddafi has made an agreement with the DPRK to denuclearize even less attainable than it might have been otherwise. Even some U.S. officials concede that the Libya episode convinced North Korean leaders that nuclear weapons were necessary for regime survival.

The foundation for successful diplomacy is a country’s reputation for credibility and reliability. U.S. leaders fret that autocratic regimes—such as those in Iran and North Korea—might well violate agreements they sign. There are legitimate reasons for wariness, although in Iran’s case, the government appears to be complying with its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that Tehran signed with the United States and other major powers in 2015—despite allegations from U.S. hawks about violations.

When it comes to problems with credibility, though, U.S. leaders also need to look in the mirror. Washington’s conduct in Libya was a case of brazen duplicity. It is hardly a surprise if North Korea (or other countries) now regard the United States as an untrustworthy negotiating partner. Because of Pyongyang’s other reasons for wanting a nuclear capability, a denuclearization accord was always a long shot. But U.S. actions in Libya reduced prospects to the vanishing point. American leaders have only themselves to blame for that situation.


J S Bach Sat, 11/11/2017 - 21:29 Permalink

This is all so true.  Gadaffi was offed for one reason and one reason only.  He tried to set up a gold-based dinar in Africa to oppose the U.S. dollar.  This sent up an immediate red-flag to the Rothschilds in London.  ONLY debt-based currency shalt be allowed in this modern era.  Any renegade who darst oppose this state of affairs is to be eliminated.  Hence, Gadaffi was executed.

Manthong peddling-fiction Sat, 11/11/2017 - 22:38 Permalink

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What is with those crazy commie lids there? Shit… I could cover my house with a single one.

In reply to by peddling-fiction

847328_3527 Manthong Sun, 11/12/2017 - 10:56 Permalink

Europeans are reaping the "benefits" of destroying Lybia; namely, widespread rape and pillage of their own countries now, from Italy to Germany, from Sweden to France....all being destroyed by vengeful violent mozzlim Africans.A historic Blowback.The tragic part is the average citizen gets fucked while the Globalists and Elitisits still reap benefits of this migration, as well as the benefits of Lybia's destruction.It's interesting how the MSM completely avoids this topic since it was caused by the two war criminal Globalists, Obama and Hillary.

In reply to by Manthong

Offthebeach bobcatz Sun, 11/12/2017 - 08:38 Permalink

The Middle East was, always, "destroyed", at least a couple of thousand years before the founding of Israel,  or even America.  The Romans thought it a dump.The Arab world, reckoned to be from Morocco on the Alantic, east to Iraq, and comprising 600 million, does not produce or manufacture one world class product.  It does not have one elite university. Including the Saudis, and oil producers, average per person per day incom is 1 dollar.  Half or more are illiterate.  Intermarriage genitic defect rates are at a minimum,  1,000 times higher then the West.  But they have Islam, so thats nice. 

In reply to by bobcatz

Consuelo Rjh Sun, 11/12/2017 - 11:33 Permalink

  You, dear sir have never experienced war firsthand.   Nor have you ever been deprived, displaced, orphaned, starved or otherwise scarred, as a direct result of war.   Guess what?  Neither have I. The 'pride' you display is not what our Founding Fathers fought for, nor wished for succeeding generations.    Whom those like you claim to 'honor', would recoil at your arrogance.  

In reply to by Rjh

Offthebeach roddy6667 Sun, 11/12/2017 - 09:31 Permalink

Russians did nothing in the Pacific from Alaska to Australia , the Alantic,  North and South, nothing in China( 25 million ), nothing in Burma, India, Phillipines, nothing against Japan, nothing in North Africa nor the Middle East, Nothing in the Mediterranean nor over Europe in the Air.  Nor did they supply anyone, as they were critically dependent upon aid.  And why was this?  Because they were totally politicized,  as rump swabs to Stalin and communism.  So, they couldn't,  so they didnt,  but what could a debased, politicalized, slave mass do?  Get killed in mass numbers.  This is thought by simpletons as agreat aaccomplishment.  

In reply to by roddy6667

uhland62 Dr. Engali Sat, 11/11/2017 - 21:43 Permalink

Play along with the NWO and get f1cked. Spend all your money on buying US weaponry while the population cannot afford clean water (Flint) or food for their children (Germany, Britain, New Zealand and Australia). What Libya has become is a disgrace. America destroys wherever they stick their nose in so NKorea fights back - what surprise.

In reply to by Dr. Engali

jeff montanye any_mouse Sun, 11/12/2017 - 01:25 Permalink

if you insist:Rothschild Bank of London, Warburg Bank of Hamburg, Rothschild Bank of Berlin, Lehman Brothers of New York, Lazard Brothers of Paris, Kuhn Loeb Bank of New York, Israel Moses Seif Banks of Italy, Goldman, Sachs of New York, Warburg Bank of Amsterdam, Chase Manhattan Bank of New York (Reference 14, P. 13, Reference 12, P. 152)this is dated as of 1992 but you get the gist.

In reply to by any_mouse