You gotta love the Americans. They are so predictable, and perform like trained seals when it comes to North Korea. Listen to US secretary of defence Robert Gates speaking in Beijing: 'North Korea is an immenent danger to the security of the US'.
Why? The DPRK's sophiscated level of rocketry will, down the road, produce an ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] able to hit Alaska. Consequently, North Korea is a 'imminent' and 'present danger' to the lives of the more 300 millions Americans.
Ain't that a moutful? Gates' words are typical of the lunatic foreign policy that the US is conducting towards Pyongyang, and in general, it subsumes the wild eye way the US looks at geopolitics. It typifies a mindset that brought George Bush to invade Iraq on the false premiss that Saddam Hussein had WMD [weapons of mass destruction]. The policy makers in the White House, the Pentagon, and Foggy Bottom [the home of the US department of state] are weavers of a seamless cloth of questionable assumptions. Consider, for the moment, Washington's campaign against Iran and its nuclear programme. Meir Dagan, the disgraced head of Israel's Mossad, on leaving office, has given lie to the US and Israeli propaganda that Tehran is on the cusp of developing a nuclear bomb. Based on confidential if not classified data, Dagan has pooh poohed that idea, and put any such development off for years.
North Korea has the bomb, but when Robert Carlin and Dr. Siegfried Hecker visited a heretofore unknown enrichment plant outside Pyongyang, it turned out that North Korea was more interested in building light water reactors to replace its inadequate and antiquated Soviet built infrastructure. [As GuamDiary observed, Bill Clinton reneged on a promise to build 3 light water reactors for the North Koreans. A promise which to this day remains unfulfilled.]
Gates' object was to scare the pants off his fellow citizens. It zeros in on North Korea's rocketry. Admittedly, North Korea's rocketry is of high level. After all, owing to stringent US imposed sanctions, Pyongyang earns the denied hard currency which US policy inhibits it from normal trade relations with other countries. Ironically, even a strong ally like Egypt is a buyer of North Korean rockets. On the other hand, in developing long range rockets, North Korea has had little success yet.
They may in the future, but that remains a matter of time and speculation.
What is at the bottom of Gates' war scare? Historically, the US has been at war with the DPRK for more than 60 years. Therefore, in a sense, North Korea is a present danger to the US. That war is frozen by a 1953 Armistice agreement, so the danger is minimal to America.
The real threat arises from the failed US and South Korean policy to provoke North Korea to war or to starve it until it collapses. On both countrs, Washington and Seoul have failed miserably. The Obama administration like the Bush administration before it, is counting on China to pull its chestnuts out of the fire by muzzling North Korea. China cannot and will not for the very same reasons it entered the Korean War against the US led UN troops: it does not want a hostile presence on its borders. It was true now as it was then. A reunited Korea under South Korea sends off danger signals in Beijing.
South Korea, if anything, is more aggressive towards the North through military exercises dangerously close to the North's international waters in the Yellow Sea [pace: the shelling in November 2010] and the axis of ill intention of Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo in waters in the Yellow sea that Beijing views as threatening to its own security, let alone to destablising North Korea.
If there is an imminent and present danger, it comes from the US and its South Korean and Japanese allies. It is based on a harrowing mad policy towards North Korea which is full of tripwires to war. Gates' pronouncement in China is simply 'eyewash'--full of deception and misleading words.