The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 13, 2013

Our View: Line in the sand

The Joplin Globe

— North Korea’s third underground nuclear test confirms that no matter what the rest of the world thinks, the country is developing nuclear weapons.

President Barack Obama has condemned the actions.

“The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community,” Obama said in a statement hours after the test. “The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies.”

But now comes the question “what next?” What more should be done to prevent North Korea from developing and manufacturing more nuclear weapons?

We have been having exactly the same conversation for about a decade over the same issue with Iran. All that has happened so far is seemingly a continuation of the development of nuclear weapons by Iran, but as of yet no testing of such weapons. What should we  do if Iran actually tests a nuclear device?

The objective of United States policy has long been to prevent the development and production of nuclear weapons by any nation. The strategy to implement that objective has been diplomacy and economic isolation of such nations attempting to gain nuclear weapons. But that strategy has failed for North Korea and perhaps will fail for Iran.

In our view, that leaves us with one option, the strategy of nuclear deterrence to prevent the use of nuclear weapons by any nation. Like it or not, it worked during the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

For various reasons, the United States could not prevent the Soviet Union from gaining access to nuclear weapons or a few other nations, such as India and Pakistan, from doing so later on. Until policymakers can find a way to actually prevent the production of such weapons, we must keep nuclear deterrence firmly in hand as a primary policy to prevent the use of such weapons.