U.S. policy makers reacted strongly to North Korea’s launch of a long-range missile on December 12. U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor called it “another example of North Korea’s pattern of irresponsible behavior.”
U.S. officials had a similarly strong response to North Korea’s nuclear test in 2009. At that time, President Obama said, “North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs pose a grave threat to the peace and security of the world, and I strongly condemn their reckless action.”
Sen. John Kerry, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said after North Korea’s 2009 nuclear test, “North Korea’s leaders have yet to realize that the only way for them to achieve genuine security is to abandon their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.”
At the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, we believe that the above comments by U.S. officials could be appropriately made regarding not only North Korea, but all countries, including the U.S., that possess nuclear weapons and possess and test long-range missiles as delivery devices for nuclear weapons.
Following the missile launch by North Korea, David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, said, “We condemn all long-range missile testing, including the recent launch by North Korea. However, we see North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs as indistinguishable from the missile testing programs of the other eight nuclear weapon states. Why does the U.S. characterize North Korea’s long-range missile test as ‘highly provocative’ while treating U.S. long-range missile tests, such as those launched regularly from Vandenberg Air Force Base, as business as usual?”
Krieger continued, “This double standard makes no sense and is not acceptable. The U.S. should be leading a global effort to negotiate a ban not only on long-range missiles tests but on long-range missiles themselves, and on a new treaty for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, the only weapons capable of destroying civilization. Rather than focusing on North Korea, the U.S. should bring the issue of a global ban on long-range missiles and nuclear weapons to the UN Security Council for action. Such leadership by the U.S. would constitute the responsible behavior that is needed to prevent the further spread and use of nuclear weapons.”
U.S. spokesman Tommy Vietor stated, “North Korea will only truly strengthen itself by abiding by international norms, living up to its commitments and international obligations, and working to feed its citizens, to educate its children, and to win the trust of its neighbors.”