Today, American and South Korean officials think that the Kang Nam is headed for Myanmar (the ruling junta doesn't like the name "Burma"). The officials could be right.
If they are, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is in violation of a United Nations Security Council resolution. Kim Jong Il's news agency echoed the usual response:
"...The new U.N. Security Council resolution requires member states to seek permission to inspect suspicious cargo. North Korea has said it would consider interception a declaration of war and on Wednesday accused the U.S. of seeking to provoke another Korean War.I seriously doubt that Dear Leader's country would fare well in a full nuclear exchange between America, The Russian Federation, or any other world power with contemporary weaponry.
" 'If the U.S. imperialists start another war, the army and people of Korea will ... wipe out the aggressors on the globe once and for all,' the official Korean Central News Agency said...." (AP)
That isn't really the point, I think.
The Korean Central News Agency's report may be intended mostly for internal consumption, to show how resolute and/or powerful Dear Leader is. But there is a chance that someone in North Korea's leadership may believe the official propaganda. If that's the case, and somebody like that gets a decision-making position, Honolulu, Anchorage, Tokyo, Beijing, and Vladivostok could be in very real peril.
Right now, North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and ICBMs, coupled with what can be seen as the occasional break with reality, are a "serious concern," as a senior Chinese military officer said. (Reuters)
According to the Reuters article, it looks like China and America may be expanding communication and cooperation between their armed forces. This is nothing terribly new. The two nations wrapped up their 10th annual round of talks between high-level military officials. (Xinhua)
That doesn't mean that China and America are getting ready to bomb North Korea.
"...Lieutenant-General Ma Xiaotian ... said China believes that peaceful dialogue is the way to resolve the dispute.American leaders don't seem at all eager to use force, either. As an American military source said, "...'This is a very delicate situation and no one is interested in precipitating a confrontation.'..." (June 19, 2009)
" 'We hope for and encourage positive steps and more stabilizing measures' regarding North Korea, Ma said...." (Reuters)
I certainly hope that "peaceful dialog" can end the threat that North Korea's Dear Leader and his court pose. That would be nice.
But, as I've written before, sometimes the world isn't all that nice.
Assuming that the Kang Nam is bound for Myanmar/Burma, and is carrying contraband, the USS John McCain may hail the ship and demand permission to board. If the Kang Nam's captain says 'no,' the U.N. Security Council resolution permits American authorities to ask the military junta that's running Myanmar/Burma if they would please inspect the ship.
Since there's a good chance that they're the ones who ordered the contraband, I think the results of such a search would be open to skepticism.
In this particular case, I think America would have a hard time justifying military action against the Kang Nam. Myanmar/Burma is a mess, and I think its people and the world in general would be better off if the ruling junta wasn't in charge there. But helping the junta beat down its critics isn't all that much of a direct threat to American security.
In the short term, of course.
As for the apparent cooperation between China and America: It's significant, and important, but I don't think it means that America is coming around to China's point of view: or vice versa. We've seen something a bit like this before.
Back in the late 1930s, as the new German Chancellor's regime was starting to remold Europe politically and eugenically, the Soviet Union and America dropped their differences and cooperated against their 'serious concern.' What's happening to day isn't an exact parallel, but I think there are similarities.
- "USS John McCain Positioning for Intercept of North Korean Ship: More Radioactive Kimchi for Syria?"
(June 19, 2009)
- "North Korea, American Journalists, the Internet, and Power to the People"
(June 16, 2009)
- "North Korea and the Kim Jong Dynasty: Not All Countries are the Same"
(June 9, 2009)
- "North Korea, Nuclear Weapons, Brinksmanship, and Miscalculation"
(May 27, 2009)
- "North Korea's City-Busting Nuke, a New Missile, and Diplomacy"
(May 25, 2009)
- "North Korea's Launch: Watch Out for Incoming Communications Satellites?"
(April 7, 2009)
- "North Korea and Missile Concerns: Nations are Not All Identical"
(April 5, 2009)
- "North Korea - Again - Still - North Korea"
(March 26, 2009)
- "Syria Accuses America, North Korea Threatens South Korea: Nothing New Here"
(October 28, 2008)
- "North Korea Un-disables Reactor"
(September 27, 2008)
- "North Korea Disables Reactor: Progress, of a Sort"
(June 27, 2008)
- "Syria, the IAEA, Israel, Claims and Denials"
(June 22, 2008)
- "News, Truth, and Why America is at Fault"
(June 20, 2008)
- "Syria, the IAEA, an Inspection, and a Missing Reactor"
(June 4, 2008)
- "America Abandons Myanmar! (or, Burma's Equal Opportunity Oppressors)"
(June 1, 2008)
- "Do We Really Want These Guys in Charge?"
(May 31, 2008)
- "Burma / Myanmar / Myanma - Between Cyclones and Juntas, We Can't Ignore This"
(May 11, 2008)
- "United Nations Refuses Aid to Burma, or Myanmar, or Myanma"
(May 9, 2008)
- "Syria's Reactor and North Korea - Again"
(May 5, 2008)
- "Unilateral Attack Sparks International Condemnation! Syria Had No Reactor! Pay No Attention to the North Koreans!"
(April 26, 2008)
- "Syrian Ambassador: Reactor? That's No Reactor"
(April 24, 2008)
- "Return of the Radioactive Kimchi!! North Korean Nuclear Reactor in Syria Back in the News"
(April 23, 2008)
- "'The Jews Blew Up Our Reactor (Which Does Not Exist)' "
(October 17, 2007)
- "Burma / Myanmar: Small Country, Big Trouble"
(September 30, 2007)
- "Nuclear Materials from North Korea, Sand, or Radioactive Kimchi?"
(September 18, 2007)
- "China says North Korea a 'serious concern' "
CNN (June 24, 2009)
- "China, US agree to avoid naval confrontations"
The Hindu (June 24, 2009)
- "China, U.S. eye restoring comprehensive military ties"
Xinhua (June 24, 2009)
- "N. Korea threatens US; world anticipates missile"
The Associated Press (June 24, 2009)