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A terrible prospect

Wednesday, 6th September, 2017 6:07pm

It’s hard to fathom just how quickly the world has seemingly been brought to the brink of nuclear war. Something that was pretty much unthinkable a few years, or even months ago, is now a realistic possibility. It’s a kind of return to the America of the 50s, with people going to bed wondering if a nuclear bomb might be launched overnight. North Korea’s actions are clearly a crucial factor in the increasingly volatile situation on the Korean peninsula, where they are aggressively pursuing a strategy of improving their nuclear attack capability, but they aren’t the only ones culpable. The news that they launched a missile over Japan on 3 September was startling. North Korea’s actions are quite logical from their point of view, however. It’s all about securing their very existence. Treating them as crazy pariahs is, at the very least, deeply unhelpful. 2017 alone has seen North Korea attempt 17 missile launches. A body called the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) maintains a database of North Korea's ballistic missile testing, successful and otherwise. Even Simon Coveney has called on North Korea to abandon its programme of developing ballistic missiles. However, this isn’t akin to the Skibbereen Eagle newspaper famously warning the Czar of Russia that it was keeping an eye on him in 1898. Firstly, the Fine Gael TD is now the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, rather than a rogue public representative losing the run of himself. Secondly, in a hyper-connected global world, the prospect of nuclear war could cause a huge financial shock, bringing down governments and perhaps countries. An actual nuclear attack would be far more catastrophic, particularly on the highly populated Korean peninsula. So, not unreasonably, Minister Coveney has expressed what he described as a “deep concern” that North Korea tested a nuclear explosive device on 3 September. “This further test of another nuclear explosive device by North Korea represents a real threat to peace and security in the region and beyond. It is a flagrant and provocative violation of the DPRK's international obligations not to produce or test nuclear weapons. I unreservedly condemn such actions," said Minister Coveney. “I call on North Korea to abandon its programmes to develop ballistic missiles, nuclear capabilities and weapons of mass destruction in a manner that is complete, verifiable and irreversible,” he added. In many ways, our collective fate seems to be in the hands of US President Donald Trump, who seems to respond to each new incident in more worrying ways. His own administration need to get some kind of coherent plan in place or we could all suffer the consequences.

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