North Korea Is Not as Isolated as You May Think

'Wall Street Journal' counts ties with 164 nations
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2017 10:34 AM CDT
North Korea Is Not as Isolated as You May Think
Kim Jong Un smiles at an observation post to watch the launching of Scud missiles in Tongchang-ri in North Pyongan Province, North Korea.   (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

It may be called the "hermit kingdom," but an analysis by the Wall Street Journal shows that North Korea is hardly isolated. In fact, it maintains political and economic ties with 164 nations and has embassies in 47 of them. China is, of course, its biggest trade partner by far, with India second. Pyongyang, however, has relationships of various kinds all over the globe, from supplying construction workers in the Mideast to providing military training in Africa. All in all, these ties have helped the North "amass the money and technical know-how to develop nuclear weapons and missiles." The full breakdown is here. Other coverage:

  • Bet on it: At the Washington Post, conservative Charles Krauthammer runs through the US options in the wake of the North's ICBM test, all of them unpalatable, and concludes that the most likely one, "by far, is acquiescence." His damning intro: "Across 25 years and five administrations, we have kicked the North Korean can down the road. We are now out of road."
  • Forget Russia and China: If you think they will lead the charge, Krauthammer explains why you're sorely mistaken. The deal they proposed this week doesn't unwind North Korea's nuclear program but instead freezes nuke and missile testing, something the North has agreed to in the past and violated every single time. In exchange, the US would give up its joint exercises with South Korea. Russia and China's "dead-on-arrival proposal demonstrates that their real interest is not denuclearization. Their real interest is cutting America down to size by breaking our South Korean alliance and weakening our influence in the Pacific Rim."
  • Advantage: Fellow Post columnist Charles Lane thinks the North's regime has an advantage over the US and other nations because of its singular focus on one goal: "Hold on to power, at all costs, and by any means necessary."
  • Tiny satellites: The key to tracking future North Korean missiles—and issuing warnings—may be small, inexpensive satellites out of Silicon Valley. The New York Times explains, noting they were first developed to count cars in Target parking lots.
  • Interceptors: The US also could try to shoot down the North's missiles with a new generation of interceptors, but the Economist sees a problem: "Given the speed at which North Korea’s missile program is advancing, its ICBMs may be ready before America’s new interceptors are."
  • Apology to Tokyo: A top Japanese nuclear official is walking back this comment, referring to the possibility of the North hitting a nuclear reactor: "If it were me, I think it would be much better to drop (a missile) on central Tokyo." He later acknowledged it was "inappropriate," per Sky News.
(More North Korea stories.)

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