‘UN’s slackness let Korean crisis escalate’

As North and South Korea teeter on the brink of war, analyst Aleksandr Vorontsov told RT that the United Nations is to blame for the current crisis, as its efforts to find a diplomatic solution lacked pace and persistence.

North Korea is preparing to mark the birthday of its founder Kim Il-sung next week with a flamboyant show of its military strength. The neighboring South says the reclusive communist state already has five medium-range missiles on its east coast, which it could launch at any moment.

The saber-rattling coming from Pyongyang over the past month has prompted Seoul and the US to put their forces on increased military alert, with Japan deploying missile interceptors around its capital Tokyo.

It is believed North Korea is preparing to test-launch several mid-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting not only the South, but also US bases on the western Pacific island of Guam. While many analysts have played down the threat posed by a new missile test, the United Nations has warned that any slight misstep on the Korean Peninsula could escalate into all-out confrontation.

But North Korea expert Aleksandr Vorontsov, from the Russian Academy of Sciences, thinks the UN should have acted earlier to resolve the situation.

“The international community as a whole and the United Nations didn’t play the possible role decisively,” he said. “They didn’t interfere in the situation, they didn’t directly appeal to all participants involved to decrease the tension, or the level of hostile rhetoric from both sides and their military exercises and other military action that are being conducted now.”

Vorontsov also pointed to the negative role the US has played in the current escalation of tensions.

“I think everybody will agree that any country will feel themselves insecure in a situation when strategic bombers are testing nuclear strikes near their borders,” he stressed. “And, of course, North Korea regards this maneuver as a direct threat to their security. They regard that: ‘If the US decides to attack us, nobody can protect as besides ourselves; not the UN, not the international community, not Russia, not China, not any nonproliferation treaty – nothing, only we by ourselves.’”
United Nations General Assembly (AFP Photo / Timothy A. Clary)
RT political analyst Ivor Crotty shares Vorontsov’s views on the issue, saying that the international community has not done enough to find a diplomatic solution to the Korean crisis.   

Ivor Crotty: On the one hand we have a de facto nuclear state operating with a bomb. On the other we’ve got UN, which either failed to reach out to North Korea appropriately and bring it into the international community and is conspicuous of its absence, perhaps, in a situation like this.   

RT:We’ve just heard UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warning that the situation in the Korean Peninsula is getting out of control, but what’s being done practically?

IC: What we do know is that the international diplomatic institutions that would normally be responsible for bringing North Korea back into the fold have failed to do so. North Korea walked out of the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) 5+1 talks in 2009. And the UN, other than sanctioning North Korea, has failed to come up with any concrete diplomatic solution to reach in to the mysterious state and to bring it back into the fold.

RT:What’s happening behind the scenes? Is there any chance for the crisis to be resolved through diplomacy?

IC: North Korea, famously, enjoys bilateral relations with China and Russia. There may indeed be contacts going through those channels. We can say for sure that China is upset by North Korea. I think there’s a general recognition that China and North Korea’s relations are starting to disintegrate because this sabre-rattling that we see from North Korea has brought the very aggressive United States into China’s front garden.

It should also be mentioned that whether it’s a coincidence or not – I’ll leave that to others to judge – but NATO Secretary-General [Anders Fogh] Rasmussen is also in Seoul at the moment conducting meetings with his South Korean partners. This may be seen as inflammatory meeting by the North Koreans, it may be not.