Archive for Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Effects will be felt in Asia, expert says

October 10, 2006

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Peter Brookes didn't get a lot of sleep Sunday night.

When news broke late of a possible nuclear test in North Korea, the Heritage Foundation fellow and Eurasian security scholar's phone began to ring off the hook. The phone, he said, rang through the night.

"North Korea really changed everything," Brookes told a packed room at the Kansas Union on Monday. "You can't help feeling that way today."

As a former U.S. Defense Department official under George H.W. Bush and current Commissioner on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Brookes has more than a passing interest about what happens in Asia.

He said the shock waves of North Korea's possible nuclear test would be felt throughout the region.

And, in a way, they were felt here in Kansas as well.

A seismograph at Kansas State University may have picked up vibrations from the smaller-than-expected underground explosion during North Korea's testing.

Geophysicist Susan Nissen said it was common that a nuclear explosion would be felt halfway around the world.

"If it's a large enough test, if it's a large enough event, whether it's an earthquake or an explosion, it can be detected worldwide," Nissen said.

The White House confirmed Monday that a seismic event happened on the Korean peninsula but couldn't tell yet if it was nuclear.

Economic effects

Even less clear, Brookes and other experts said, was the impact the highly criticized tests would have on economic markets both here and in the region.

"We haven't seen a market effect," Brookes said. But he added that the South Korean economy - now at $811 billion, according to the U.S. Department of State - could take a serious hit.

Trade has long existed between Kansas and the Korean peninsula. Although trade has fallen off in the last few years, Kansas still exports about $173 million in goods to the Korean peninsula, according to state Department of Commerce statistics. In 2003, Kansas exported about $321 million to South Korea.

And the United States, Kansas included, provides more than half of North Korea's milling wheat, according to the Kansas Asia Community Connection at Kansas University.

But exports to the entire Asia region are way up - nearly 45 percent, in spite of some restrictions on U.S. beef there. Aircraft equipment and heavy machinery accounted for much of the increase, data show.

But John Kennedy, associate professor of political science at KU, said any possible economic turmoil likely wouldn't affect the U.S.

That is, unless there is the real threat of war with the state lumped into President Bush's "Axis of Evil."

"The threat of war would influence that," Kennedy said.

And it would be the region that would be affected more than the U.S. both economically and militarily, experts said.

Asian concerns

The more the North Korean threat pushes the U.S. into the region, the more it makes everyone else - China, specifically - more uncomfortable.

"China is very worried about the U.S. coming back to Asia," Kennedy said. "This is bringing the U.S. back."

The region also should be worried about the nuclear test itself. In Brookes' estimation, Japan - a long-dormant military power - is more in North Korea's crosshairs than the U.S.

Plus, Brookes said, everyone in the region should be concerned about what North Korea might do with a nuclear weapon. They may not have the capabilities to use one, but they certainly could sell it, he said.

The worst-case scenario, he said, would be for a terrorist organization to show up with a wheelbarrow full of cash, ready to get their hands on the world's most dangerous weapon.

North Korea is not where a nuclear weapon is really functional, he said, but if it does have the capacity, its neighbors should be on alert.

"It's likely to have repercussions throughout the region," he said.

Comments

Kat Christian 8 years, 8 months ago

North Korea has had it in for the U.S. since the war. A war we should not have been involved in - just like Viet Nam. What behooves me is how little the U.S. is compared to regions such as China and the Russia or what Soviet Union (whatever they call it these days) and yet they've not knock our heads off sooner. We are lucky to live in such a powerful country - but I wish we had better political representation (other than Bush and his conies) He's a war monger, Kim Jong is a war monger - among a few others. You get these guys together and all H*!! is going to break loose. Who suffers but us hard working Americas and the innocents in the other part of the world. We (the world) are in for a rude awakening. This period in time reminds me of the 60s when things were uncertain in the world and here at home. Life took on a dramatic change in our culture as well as abroad. It is coming to pass again only more intense because of technolgy. My fear is the change isn't for the better but a disaster waiting to happen. Now is the time for us to look at our neighbors and the person standing next to us and be kind to each other while we still have time.

b_asinbeer 8 years, 8 months ago

Just a few things...it's called Russia, and has been called Russia for more than a decade now. Hope that helps. :o)

Fatty_McButterpants 8 years, 8 months ago

Sunshine...just so you know, Truman - a DEMOCRAT - got us into Korea in the first place.

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