Are We Looking at a New Arms Race in Asia?

In the Asia Times Online:

he next few months will be critical. At the United Nations, trade sanctions against North Korea under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter are in prospect. The jury is out as to as to whether they will be effective. Like India and Pakistan, North Korea now has a nuclear-tipped guarantee against external molestation.

At the same time, Seoul remains the easiest of targets; threats by the North against it can be used as blackmail. Other measures, including UN interception of North Korean vessels at sea – Mr Kim has tried to send Scud missiles to Yemen before – are under consideration. North Korea’s relations with its communist ally China and rival South Korea will be tested as never before. Chinese diplomacy will be critical.

Then there is the lurid prospect of Japan and South Korea announcing nuclear-weapons acquisitions of their own. New Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe may find that his flight schedule includes Beijing and Seoul far more than he imagined. Japan’s pacifist constitution may have to be revised in light of new Northeast Asian realities. Even Taiwan may be frightened or emboldened enough to consider its own nuclear insurance policy. Add to this the great unknown of Iran (likened by some to Germany rearming in the 1930s) and policymakers, strategists and journalists are assured plenty of sleepless nights, column inches and studio time in the months ahead. Iran will be watching closely to see how the UN handles Mr Kim and will draw appropriate conclusions.

Also in Slate, a look at a related and now poignant question: can Japan et nukes?