Latest cases of chemical proliferation remind us why Kim Jong-Un must go

The first mid-term report of the U.N. Panel of Experts should be out any day now, and among its revelations will be yet more evidence that Pyongyang is helping Assad gas his own people:

Two North Korean shipments to a Syrian government agency responsible for the country’s chemical weapons program were intercepted in the past six months, according to a confidential United Nations report on North Korea sanctions violations.

The report by a panel of independent U.N. experts, which was submitted to the U.N. Security Council earlier this month and seen by Reuters on Monday, gave no details on when or where the interdictions occurred or what the shipments contained.

 “The panel is investigating reported prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms cooperation between Syria and the DPRK (North Korea),” the experts wrote in the 37-page report. [Reuters]
Add this evidence to the already-long dossier on Pyongyang’s chemical weapons assistance to Syria. The vendor, predictably, was KOMID, or the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, Pyongyang’s main arms dealing agency. (According to the Panel’s most recent annual report, by the way, KOMID representatives continue to operate openly in and transit through China.)

Two different member states intercepted the shipments. Previously, Greece, Turkey, and Israel have all intercepted shipments of banned items from North Korea in the eastern Mediterranean. Last year, Egypt intercepted a shipment of North Korean-made rocket-propelled anti-tank grenades at the southern end of the Suez Canal. And just so we’re clear, Pyongyang is willfully supplying the chemical weapons that Assad is using to do this:
Source: Source: Source:
During the last year, we’ve also learned that Pyongyang is perfectly willing to make its own use of the deadliest chemical weapons known to mankind, including the persistent nerve agent VX against a noncombatant in an area crowded with completely uninvolved civilians in the capital city of a friendly nation. We know that North Korea would proliferate anything, including the means to produce nuclear weapons, to Syria.

Suspend your belief that Pyongyang (as it continues to insist) will never negotiate away its nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles. Suspend your disbelief that Pyongyang would comply with its agreements even if it signed yet another one. At no point have talks with Pyongyang so much as broached its proliferation, or its chemical weapons, or its biological weapons, or the tube and rocket artillery (some of it chem/bio-capable) it has pointed at the people of Seoul. There is no diplomatic process or agreement that will foreseeably end that threat before Pyongyang proliferates it globally.

Yes, you can rail against Clinton, Bush, and Obama for wasting years we did not have, but we are where we are. The best alternative left to us may be a combination of sanctions and information operations to destabilize the regime, along with the best blockade of North Korea we can now manage in the meantime. When member states don’t inspect North Korean cargo as required under UNSCR 2270, it may not be legally possible to search them, but it’s certainly physically possible. To complicate that option, however, most of North Korea’s maritime trade is run through short-haul trips across the Yellow Sea to China. It would be risky, but possible, to search smuggling ships and those running with their lights and beacons off, but that presents a high risk going hot with Chinese or North Korean ships. If that’s more risk than you’re willing to accept, the KIMS Act would also allow us to penalize ports don’t meet their inspection requirements and flag states that reflag North Korea’s ships, but that would come with economic costs for us. An amendment to the NKSPEA (“notwithstanding section 203(b) of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act”) could close the legal loophole that Air Koryo continues to fly through, and could — eventually — ground it, but that, too, would take time to work.

These measures could eventually shut down most of North Korea’s external maritime trade, but implementation is never immediate — at best, it would take months. Other measures, like mining harbors or bombing runways, present undue risks of causing civilian casualties or starting a war. But increasingly, we must balance all of the risks of shutting down Pyongyang’s proliferation against the risk of the civilian casualties that Pyongyang’s proliferation is causing right now, and could cause for years to come.

I occasionally see scholarly articles arguing that destabilizing the regime in Pyongyang presents an unacceptable risk that “loose” WMDs would proliferate. What I’d like to ask the scholars writing these articles is this: isn’t the greater proliferation risk that a “stable” regime in Pyongyang endures?


  1. What about sinking the ships using submarines and torpedoes? Granted that would be an act of war, but if they are in the middle of the Yellow Sea, with there beacons and radios off, who would know?


  2. “North Korea was forced to ship chemical weapons to Syria
    because of the hostile policies of the USA” says every Marxist
    nut in the US pro-North movement.

    And yes, there is indeed a pro-North movement in this country.
    It is small, but extremely dedicated and well-organized. It is
    composed of a network of closely interlocking groups and
    activists which actively collaborate with each another.
    Believe it or not, it does wield some influence, because
    it has the support of some useful idiots who, although
    they may not personally support the North, are willing
    to make common cause with and provide assistance to
    pro-North organizations and individuals.


  3. In regards to the above comment, I am fascinated with the psychological make-up of people who fail to see the irony of operating a pro-North Korean outlet from the United States.

    In other news, the U.S. congressmen and women here in Seoul have advocated a SK-led dual track approach, and referenced the Kaesong Industrial Complex-Cheong wa date said ‘no dice’ for the time being. Might have something to do with the Ministry of Unification’s recent discovery of the missing 100 cars from the parking lot there (they were South Korea-owned jointly-used vehicles).


  4. ” operating a pro-North Korean outlet from the United States. ”

    Ken Roh, who is in charge of Minjok TV (from Los Angeles?) is a piece of shit who must be deported to Pyongyang ASAP.


  5. “U.N. Panel of Experts” LOL. Reuters saw the report “that gave no details.” The devil is in the details. More treachery against Assad. They hate him and want to bring him down. I


  6. “U.N. Panel of Experts”

    You conveniently left out the word “independent”. Indeed, the devil is in the details.

    Assad and Kim deserve each and every criticism they get because they kill innocent victims… How do you feel after looking at the pictures of hundreds of children above dead and suffering?

    Lastly, we don’t want to just “bring down’ these monsters. If they are alive at that that time, we want them in Hague so they can be tried and the entire world can be provided with “details” that show their heinous crimes against humanity