Conflict & Justice

North Korea: Libya should have kept nuclear weapons program


In this frame grab made off undated North Korea's Korean Central Television (KCTV) footage aired on October 11, 2008, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il inspects a female military unit in North Korea.



North Koreans appear to be learning from the ongoing military campaign in Libya that dismantling one's nuclear program can have dire consequences, notably military intervention by the West.

Muammar Gaddafi gave up his pursuit for a nuclear weapons program in 2003 in exchange for a "step towards normalcy" with the rest of the world, a CFR blog by Scott Snyder notes. This move, the so-called Libya Model, was then held up to North Korea as a way of establishing diplomatic normalization with the United States and West.

However, less than a decade later, Libya faces an armed rebellion and a military intervention by the United States and its European allies.

"One can’t help but wonder whether North Koreans might in 2011 take away aspects of the 'Libya model' very different from those the United States would prefer," Snyder writes.

North Korea's foreign ministry made statements earlier this week suggesting that Libya had been tricked into giving up its program, according to an article in the Korea JoongAng Daily.

“The situation in Libya is a lesson for the international community,” said the spokesman, it states. “It has been shown to the corners of the earth that Libya’s giving up its nuclear arms, which the U.S. liked to chatter on about, was used as an invasion tactic to disarm the country by sugarcoating it with words like ‘the guaranteeing of security’ and ‘the bettering of relations.’”

The spokesman says that “having one’s own strength ... was the only way to keep the peace.”

Analysts say that North Korean leaders watching events unfolding in Libya are now probably deeply proud of themselves, according to the New York Times. Pyongyang will draw the conclusion that giving up nuclear arms leaves countries defenseless.

The United States has denied a link between giving up nuclear weapons and military intervention.

“Where they’re at today has absolutely no connection with them renouncing their nuclear program or nuclear weapons,” Mark Toner, a U.S. State Department spokesman, told the New York Times.

Read more from GlobalPost about the situation in Libya: Despite allied support, fight against Gaddafi is slow going