00:33 GMT +323 October 2016
    A South Korean protester with a photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shouts slogans during a rally against North Korea's announcement that it had tested a hydrogen bomb.

    Axis of Hostility? US Rejected North Korea’s Offer to Suspend Nuke Tests

    © AP Photo/ Ahn Young-joon
    Asia & Pacific
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    While the US has been vocal in its opposition to North Korea’s claim of developing a hydrogen bomb, Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear investigates Washington’s own role in Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

    The international community has expressed outrage over North Korea’s nuclear test conducted Wednesday morning, raising the possibility of new sanctions being put in place. To sift through the facts, Loud & Clear host Brian Becker sat down with Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project, Paul Liem, chairman of the Korea Peace Institute, and Daniel Jasper, advocacy coordinator for Asia at the American Friends Service Committee.

    While North Korea claims to have successfully tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb, Kristensen has his doubts.

    "If you look at the other nuclear weapons states in the world, it took them many, many nuclear tests and many years to develop that type of technology," he says. "So personally I’m a little doubtful that North Korea, within the span of just four tests, could have been able to somehow speed to that capability."

    But even if Pyongyang’s claims are true, the United States may have no one to blame but themselves. Formerly a part of the international nuclear nonproliferation treaty, North Korea may have been forced to reconsider after former US President George W. Bush included the DPRK in his "Axis of Evil."

    "I think the comment about the ‘Axis of Evil’ certainly played terribly in the DPRK, and it stands to reason that these sorts of signals that were being sent were probably being received in a hostile manner," Jasper says.

    "We know that when countries are threatened with military force, be it conventional or nuclear, that they take defensive means to defend themselves," Kristensen adds. "With the announcement of the 'Axis of Evil' and the very soon thereafter invasion of Iraq, one could, if you sat in Pyongyang, have concluded that ‘we’re next.'"

    But even beyond the provocations of the Bush administration, President Obama has also passed up offers in which North Korea volunteered to curb its own nuclear program.

    "In January of 2015, the North Koreans did actually offer to suspend further nuclear testing if the United States and South Korea would agree to cancel the annual war games last year," Liem says.

    "The US and South Korea refused to do it, but it gives you an indication of what they [North Korea] consider to be a significant, good-faith effort on the part of the United States that might move them toward these kinds of negotiations.

    "I think that the position of the Obama administration actually is a Bush administration policy toward North Korea, possibly on steroids…"

    As Jasper points out, these annual war games are meant as a sign of force against Pyongyang.

    "These exercises have taken place for decades," he says. "They’re essentially in practice of either invading the North or in the case the North invades the South. These are preparations to strengthen the alliance…and, essentially, probably to bear a little teeth, and to show the DPRK that the US and South Korea are not going away, and this war has not ended completely, yet."

    The fate of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya may have also sent North Korea a message about the dangers of surrendering nuclear weapons, once developed.

    "I think the North Koreans looked at that [Libya] and they’re saying to themselves, 'what is the purpose of giving up our nuclear weapons…even if we had a peace treaty, how long would that last?'" Liem says.

    As the US considers applying additional sanctions against Pyongyang, more creative solutions may be needed.

    "There ample ways forward, and I think it needs to move the discussion from one of zero-sum, take-it-or-leave-it type politics, to one to find incremental steps to build mutual trust, to work toward mutual goals, and those steps exist in probably some unlikely places," Jasper says.

    "There has to be some creativity in Washington."

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    Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), hydrogen bomb, Axis of Evil, Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), nuclear tests, Daniel Jasper, Paul Liem, Hans Kristensen, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Libya, Iraq
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    • lgwUSMC
      How has nobody taken fat boy out yet?
    • karlof1in reply tolgwUSMC(Show commentHide comment)
      lgwUSMC, you mean Biden, Trump, or Obama?
    • karlof1
      Why does North Korea believe it needs nukes? Perhaps to keep the Outlaw US Empire from finishing its genocidal war against the Korean peoples that resulted in the deaths of 70% thanks to Lemay and Truman's policies.
    • Mother Gorilla
      Why are the US always so incapable of compromise and of, yeah, exactly, employing more creative, maybe also less aggressive ways of defending its supremacy? One would think they are not so sure of themselves as it seems. In Syria it's the same!
    • Ivan Zadorozhny
      It's always been in US interests to keep North Korea going. Just a pretext to keep South Korea and Japan occupied.
    • michaelin reply toMother Gorilla(Show commentHide comment)
      Miss Germany, I would suggest that those in power in washington have not the creativity that you refer to. They operate within certain confines with specific agendum. Therefore, their strategies so-called are useless in dealing with the diversity of human behaviour, beliefs, values etc.
    • rishardhawk
      US till this day has not been charged with War Crimes against Japan for dropping Atom bombs in their country , so what in the hell they are doing bossing every nation specially on this issue.
      US first should get their own medicine first!
    • michaelin reply toIvan Zadorozhny(Show commentHide comment)
      Ivan, I have an image of the U.S. being the sole chef in a large kitchen with all of the kettles, pots and so on coming to the boil and the chef has to be running around adjusting temperatures etc. Souffles fall, sauces boil over, bread is burnt and mess is all over the floor. But the maniacal chef cannot stop. :)
    • Randall Lee Hilburnin reply toMother Gorilla(Show commentHide comment)
      Miss Germany, A similar thought has recently occurred to me. To what extent is the paranoia of American leaders the result of some really deep and twisted feeling of insecurity and inferiority? Have you ever noticed that bullies seem to always be driven by that same problem, and the only way they can find to deal with it is by picking on people weaker than they are?
    • choticastilein reply tokarlof1(Show commentHide comment)
      karlof1, Thank you Karlof!
    • choticastilein reply torishardhawk(Show commentHide comment)
      rishardhawk, Its not far off coming!
    • Randall Lee Hilburnin reply tokarlof1(Show commentHide comment)
      karlof1, During the war they routinely carpet bombed civilian areas of no military significance in North Korea in order to break the spirit of the North Korean people. It doesn't look like they were successful, does it?

      Until the North Koreans started developing nuclear weapons the American leadership were always running their mouths about how they were fixing to do a regime change in North Korea. In the face of such threats, with what the US has already done there, and with the example of what happened to Libya before them, what do I ask does anybody in their right mind expect them to do?
    • choticastilein reply tomichael(Show commentHide comment)
      michael, Love the way you explained it -- down to the acrid smell of charcoal as everything burns to a cinder!
    • landauroj
      Leave alone North Korea with its nuclear program. North Korea is hate for all the western countries because its communism government and it is bully by the USA. The best North Korea can do is to create an arm system to produce maximum damage if is attacked by the USA and it’s allied. Those who dare to attack North Korea will be not immune to retaliation and this is the only language that the USA, NATO and its lackeys understand.

      Russia public anxiety and disagreement is just for public consume. It is convenience for Russia to have real friends that have Nuclear weapon. Russia has said that it will not doubt to use Nuke if is attacked. So what is the problem, then? In a Nuke war, few more nukes will not make any difference.
    • cast235
      And since when U.S creates peace?
      South Korea doesn't understand that they just a geopolitical game asset.
      Make cheap stuff. THAT is also drawing to an end , when cars and others things can be produced cheaper somewhere.
      The other part is arms sales. But as South Korea is beginning to produce own stuff, that also is ending. The war games are there and will be because the world is against NK, and U.S bullying with small countries policy.
      Russia is friendly with North Korea and won't just abandon, but even the KREMLIN assets are seeing North Korea's latest claims as a threat.
      The problem with North is that is been threaten with war every time. And yes THAT's the real reason it's been procuring nukes and attempting to make missiles that reach U.S.

      BUT what U.S do? TALK more trash and threaten. That won't help a bit. YES , they could had an Iranian style deal. Russia could REALLY help. U.S and south will have to promise no intervention in writing.
      NK give up all nukes and material, allows the destruction of all facilities.. Russia could. And give up all material. Russia could get it.
      Russia then will have to include her in a mil block. Like CSTO. MAYBE EEU or SCO.. So it deal quietly.
      About the leader? he MUST also promise in writing never to do that again. The rest of politics can be slowly arrange. Democracy? WHY? Russia could convince them to let people move and more.
    • qvasko 15
      I hate this ugly guy of Kim, full of himself
    • karlof1in reply toRandall Lee Hilburn(Show commentHide comment)
      Randall Lee Hilburn, Thanks for your reply. Agreed, and it wasn't just the North that was bombed that way. The 70% figure is for all Koreans. Then there's the post-armistice totalitarianism in the South that's never discussed.
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