What if someone told you that you were going to die but you had a say in your fate. What would you do? Would you fight for your life or sit back and let others decide your destiny?
This topic appealed to me greatly back in 2018 when I was watching the news about the Summit that President Trump was arranging with Kim Jong Un. It interested me, as I wondered how President Trump would solve the nuclear crisis with North Korea and lower the tensions. Given the aftermath of the event, I was intrigued in coming up with a solution of my own as the first summit hadn’t created any positive results.
Cuban Missile Crisis
“There is nothing worth having that can be obtained by nuclear war – nothing material or ideological – no tradition that it can defend. It is utterly self-defeating.” – George Wald
Nuclear proliferation started with the creation of the first nuclear weapon, the atomic bomb, which was tested in a remote location in New Mexico, known as the Trinity Test (Gull). In 1945, during World War II, the first nuclear weapon was dropped on Hiroshima and then, later on, Nagasaki, Japan which started the expansion of nuclear technology advancement and weapons (Gull). The effectiveness of nuclear weapons had captured the attention of an audience on a worldwide scale, increasing the demand for nuclear weapons because of countries craving for power (Gull). This sparked the arms race between the U.S. and the USSR as they each tried to one-up each other by increasing their destruction potential (Gull).
In the fall of 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred, one of the most prolific events in history, as it could have been the end of mankind (Miller). On October 12, 1962, a U-2 spy plane took pictures that showed clear evidence of the medium range and intermediate range ballistic missile facilities (Miller). President Kennedy was briefed on three different strategies to handle the situation and to minimize the risk of nuclear war as much as possible (Cullity). The chosen option was proposed by the Owls who would place a naval quarantine around Cuba preventing the importation of Soviet supplies of nuclear material (Cullity). This strategy would leave the option of negotiation open even though there was the option of further escalation of tensions (Cullity). Eventually, negotiation ensued between Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, the premier of the Soviet Union, leading to the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Cuba. In exchange, the USSR would receive a pledge of assurance from the U.S. that they would not invade Cuba and that U.S. missiles would be removed from Turkey (Cullity).
The Cuban Missile Crisis also ignited the flame to the start of the Cold War, a figurative war between the United States and the Soviet Union (Cold War History). Both of these countries greatly increased their nuclear stockpiles, as shown by the graph above, as well as creating new technological advancements to be able to reach the moon (Cold War History). During the Cold War, American official encouraged the creation of Nuclear weapons to have the advantage on the Soviet Union which in result caused the Soviet Union to create more to have the edge on the U.S. (Cold War History). To compare the scope of nuclear weapon production, in 1955 there were 2,632 nuclear weapons compared to the greatly inflated number in 1986 where the world count was an outstanding 64,449 (Cold War History). This was all of a result of the Cold war and even though the number in the present day has been reduced to 10,415, a seemingly better number, it must be kept in mind that it only takes a couple of nuclear warheads to uproot a whole country (Cold War History).
Growing Tensions with North Korea
On September 3, 2017, North Korea successfully carried out its sixth test of a nuclear weapon with its newest creation, the hydrogen bomb (Keyu). Even though the creation of this bomb has not been verified, it has shown tremendous advancement in the North Korean Nuclear Missile Ballistic Program (Keyu). Since 2006, North Korea has been developing a nuclear weapon without much success until recently when they carried out their test in 2017 (Keyu). North Korea tested an ICBM missile that flew over Japan and ended up 770 kilometers away from its launch site, Pyongyang, North Korea (Keyu). North Korean officials stated that the intended target in the future would be the American territory, Guam (Keyu).
The powerful leaders met in Singapore, the summer of 2018 for peace negotiations and President Trump arrived with a series of goals to help denuclearize North Korea (Rice). The first being for the North Korea Missile Ballistic program to stop all testing on nuclear weapons so that their progression towards a fully functional nuclear bomb would be interrupted (Rice). After the meeting, President Trump stated, “That there was no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea” after he had received a pledge from Kim Jong Un affirming that his country would stop all nuclear tests (Rice). His statement has been reported to have countered all of the intelligence that the CIA has gathered from sources that have been proven to be unreputable (Rice).
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Nevertheless, President Trump held the strong position that North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, that had already amassed at least a dozen nuclear weapons, was no longer a risk to world peace (Rice). President Trump and Kim Jong Un met a second time in Vietnam in 2019 to further their previous talks after Mr. Kim failed to uphold his side of his pledge to stop nuclear testing (Kristoff). During the talks, Kim Jong Un reportedly asked for the removal of all sanctions against North Korea in exchange for the termination of some of their nuclear sites (Kristoff). President Trump stated, “Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, but we couldn’t do that,” Trump said, “Sometimes you have to walk” (Kristoff).
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The reasoning behind this is that Kim Jong Un doesn’t have much leverage over President Trump to make such a preposterous request and that in the future the North Korean government eventually would have to cut a deal for much less (Kristoff). In 1986, President Reagan marched out of a summit with Russia in Reykjavik, Iceland after his refusal to sign an arms deal that he considered flawed (Kristoff). Nearly a year later, the Russian government returned with better terms and a deal was made and the results of this deal led to the end of the Cold war (Kristoff).
Previous Attempts at a Solution
After the Cuban Missile Crisis sent many into a scare, countries from all around the world came together to work on a treaty to solve the problem. On August 5, 1963, multiple countries came together to sign the Partial Test Ban Treaty. The Partial Test Ban Treaty was the first attempt at non-nuclear proliferation which prohibited the testing of nuclear weapons and nuclear explosions at any place under the jurisdiction of the USSR, US, and the UK (Gull). The loophole included in the treaty was that it only banned the testing of nuclear weapons and did nothing to prohibit the manufacture of nuclear weapons (Gull). The treaty did nothing to combat the problem of growing nuclear weapon stockpiles of global superpowers (Gull). The validity of the treaty was undermined during the 1960s when the countries who had originally signed the treaty, openly defied the regulations by conducting their own nuclear explosions of new and improved missiles (Gull).
The second attempt of nuclear reform arrived with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT, signed on July 1, 1968, was an international treaty consisting of 62 countries who were categorized into two groups (Gull). Nuclear Weapons States, countries who have detonated a nuclear weapon, and the Non-Nuclear Weapon States, those who have yet to test a nuclear weapon (Gull). The treaty was a series of interlocking international treaties including bilateral understanding and multiple inspections aimed at reducing the spread of nuclear weapons by 50% (Gull). It also included 11 Articles that gave specific guidelines on what not to do in the unlikely event of the transfer of a nuclear weapon (Gull). When the treaty was first signed, many people thought it was a step into the right direction in dramatically decreasing the production and possible usage of nuclear weapons. Other critics viewed it as the U.S. and the USSR trying to establish their nuclear dominance over the entire world (Gull).
The NPT was more effective in halting the expansion of countries nuclear arsenals, perceived as a major positive impact and achievement from the public eye (Gull). However, the treaty did little to cease the development of research, production, and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, which could eventually circle back to its harmful uses (Gull). In conclusion, there was never a treaty during the time period of the Cuban Missile Crisis that really solved the nuclear problem as there were many loopholes found in the treaties signed by countries that were used to bypass regulations.
For more refer to the Cuban Missile Crisis
Individuals should take the initiative and learn more about the prevalence of the nuclear crisis with North Korea is. There are many ways to learn about the nuclear crisis but the first step is to make sure the source has information based on facts. According to Forbes, sources that provide the most accurate facts are The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post (Glader). Upon understanding the urgency of the situation, the public should inform their congress representative the urgency of the issue and the high probability of a nuclear war with North Korea if actions are not taken. The public should call for putting the North Korean nuclear crisis on the top of legislators priority agenda and urge them to create and implement a solution before considering addressing any other issues. This issue is pertinent and by putting it to the top of the agenda we can ensure that we arrive at a resolution quicker to curtail any progress North Korea has made on a nuclear bomb.
In regards to a resolution the government can implement, similar to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the U.S. and multiple other powerful countries such as Japan, China, Russia, and South Korea will implement an akin strategy that was used in Iran (Rice). An agreement would be attained that would halt North Korean nuclear development and reverse their progression, beginning with dismantling of most of its nuclear facilities (Rice). In addition, after the deal has been signed into international law, a team of top analysts and scientists, who are experts in the field of Nuclear energy and weapons, will survey and assess North Korea’s capabilities (BBC). An example of halting nuclear progression, without closing all of the facilities would be the reduction of the amount of enriched uranium harbored in North Korea (BBC). At the moment, no intelligence agency in the world has any knowledge of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities so gaining this information would be greatly beneficial.
There are other possible approaches such as asking the allies of the U.S. to place more burdensome sanctions on North Korea and wait for the North Korean economy to break, rendering North Korea useless. This would lead to the complete annihilation of the North Korean Nuclear program as the funding would cease. However, this method would take time which would be a far fetched as there is no knowledge on the advancement of a nuclear weapon and it wouldn’t be a canny tactic to allow them time to continue progressing towards one.
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