Tuesday, May 26, 2009


North Korea - International Scofflaw

The President of the United States:

“Today, North Korea said that it has conducted a nuclear test in violation of international law.” Statement from the President

(Minor quibble –doesn’t that read like North Korea said its test was in violation of international law?)

US United Nations Ambassador:

“"The U.S. thinks this is a grave violation of international law and a threat to regional and international peace and security," said Susan Rice. "And therefore, the United States will seek a strong resolution with strong measures." VOA News - UN Security Council Condemns N. Korea Nuke Test; Begins Work on New Resolution

Okay – as serious as this matter is, exactly what “international law” is North Korea violating? Sure, the UN Security Council had previously spoken on this subject but it had also spoken on the matter of Iraq. The general enforcement of those sanctions has, of course, been generally denounced as a violation of international law. Further, North Korea is not a party to any treaty banning nuclear testing (which in of itself is not that meaningful since, for example, the much ballyhooed Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaty is not yet in force).

When we think of an action as a “violation of international law”, I worry that this tilts such actions towards being then described as “criminal enterprise”...and if that becomes the mindset, I just hope that our case against North Korea isn’t too dependent on hearsay.

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