“We can’t read them, they are completely impenetrable,” said an Israeli intelligence official attempting to follow North Korea’s ties with Iran and Syria. Israel has obtained information about those ties, but the information has always arrived from the Syrian or Iranian side, never from North Korea.
The man describes a state in which senior officials cannot be convinced to defect while they go abroad (“they hold their families hostage until they return home”), agents cannot be recruited (“they sleep in fortified embassy compounds in Damascus or Tehran, and there is no contact with them”) and their codes cannot be cracked (“the codebooks and communication means never leave the embassy compound”).
But Israel is not the only country that has failed to infiltrate North Korea.
The entire West is surprised every time by the actions taken by that horrible state.
As far as we know, that was also what happened three days ago, during its fifth nuclear test. A complete intelligence surprise, in complete violation of the promises North Korea pledged not so long ago.
The Jong-il family, which has been controlling the country with an iron fist and oppression since the end of World War II, makes many promises.
It just doesn’t promise to keep them.
With all due respect to Iran or Syria, North Korea is the real “evil empire” (the phrase US President Ronald Reagan applied to the Soviet Union in 1983).
A state which, according to United Nations assessments, has some three million people in a state of hunger at any given moment, a state whose rulers have mortgaged all its resources in favor of themselves and the cruel army they have created.
North Korea is the most sealed state in the world, the least penetrable one from an intelligence and cultural aspect, and is the least susceptible to economic pressure – because its rulers simply don’t care about their citizens.
North Korea has been the main supplier of missile, rocket, radar and nuclear component technologies to the State of Israel’s worst enemies since the late 1980s. North Korea has nothing against Israel, it is simply looking for friends willing to pay a lot of money for the doomsday toys it markets without any pangs of conscience.
North Korea is continuously mocking the West. As part of a deal it signed with the Clinton Administration in the mid 1990s, it was supposed to receive nuclear knowledge for peaceful purposes in exchange for halting the military route to a bomb. Nonetheless, it secretly continued developing nuclear weapons.
In 2002, when a US State Department envoy arrived in North Korea to present evidence to his hosts that they had continued to develop a nuclear weapon despite the agreements, he expected a sweeping denial. Instead, he received confirmation from his hosts, who announced that they had a nuclear weapon.
In 2010, they struck another deal to place North Korea under a supervision regime in exchange for humanitarian aid, and violated it again with a series of ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests.
This crisis too will likely end without the flare-up of an all-out war between the two Koreas, but it conceals a grim lesson to the world, which is very relevant to Israel.
Iran’s leaders are looking at what happened to Muammar Gaddafi, and they certainly see him as a fool if not more.
Gaddafi agreed to drop his nuclear weapon project in exchange for Libya’s readmission into the family of nations. Had he not signed the deal and had he been in possession of a nuclear weapon when the riots broke out in his country, he could have possibly still been in power. There are strong doubts that NATO would have intervened in the situation in Libya if Gaddafi had nuclear bombs.
The Iranians are also watching North Korea, which developed a nuclear weapon and is using it to blackmail the West and terrify its neighbors.
In other words, as far as Iran is concerned, the required conclusion is that there is nothing like a nuclear weapon to secure a regime’s survival and that the international community attaches no price tag to a blatant violation of agreements on the matter.