A powerful US B-52 bomber flew over South Korea on Sunday, in a clear show of force from the United States as a Cold War-style standoff deepened between its ally Seoul and North Korea following Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test.
Guardian 10th Jan 2016 read more »
It was, it transpired, probably quite a small bomb, in terms of yield and explosive power, and not the game-changing thermonuclear device that North Korea initially bragged about. Nevertheless, Kim Jong-un’s unwelcome birthday surprise (the North Korean dictator turned 33 on Friday) – ordering his country’s fourth underground nuclear test in less than 10 years – has caused a big splash. Last week’s unanticipated detonation sent shockwaves across Asia and has plunged the US and China into an unedifying display of public finger pointing over who is most to blame. Given that the threat posed by Pyongyang’s UN-proscribed development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles is nothing new, the shambolic, divided and largely clueless response of the international community to this latest provocation is dismaying to behold. Whether Barack Obama, in his last year in office, has the energy or clout to follow his counter-proliferation success with Iran with a big push on North Korea is doubtful. While China has been too acquiescent over Kim’s dangerous antics, it is fair to say that Obama, increasingly focused on his domestic legacy and badly burned on Syria, Libya and Isis, has taken his eye off the Korean ball in particular and foreign policy challenges in general.
Observer 10th Jan 2016 read more »
No country is seeking opportunities to use nuclear weapons. But each knows that, in international affairs, having a sophisticated nuclear arsenal is like having an unlimited amount of money at an auction: you know that you can’t be outbid. They can pursue their interests aggressively and can afford not to shy away from a fight if challenged. Which is why, just as the North was readying its test, Jeremy Corbyn was reshuffling his cabinet to install the anti-nuclear, anti-Trident Emily Thornberry as his shadow defence secretary. After all, the UK’s nuclear weapons are symbolic of its ability and willingness to play a role in world affairs, the last thing Corbyn wants. From the position of the far-Left, preventing the renewal of Trident and achieving nuclear disarmament in the UK is the first step towards dismantling the hallmarks of our international capabilities: its military, its far reaching intelligence services and its security relationships with other nations. Doing so is essential if the UK is to be transformed from a powerful state into one more akin to the countries of Scandinavia, focused more heavily on the smooth running of welfare programmes than international events.
Express 10th Jan 2016 read more »