Washington Post blames Reagan for Norks’ nukes

| August 10, 2017 | 46 Comments

Benjamin R. Young, a PhD candidate in Korean history at George Washington University, writes a column in the Washington Post entitled “The Reagan-era invasion that drove North Korea to develop nuclear weapons” in which he blames President Reagan’s invasion of Grenada in 1983 for North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Apparently, the North Koreans had military ties to the distant Caribbean island;

Shortly after establishing diplomatic relations with Grenada in 1979, Kim Il Sung offered large amounts of free technical and agricultural assistance to Bishop’s regime. From sending tractors and cement to helping build the national stadium in the capital city of St. George’s, North Korea spared no expense in assisting its Grenadian allies.

The North Koreans also provided a large cache of weapons to Grenada. According to documents captured by American military forces during the invasion, when Bishop visited North Korea in April 1983, the two countries signed a secret military agreement. North Korea’s “free offer of military assistance” gave the Grenadians 12 million U.S. dollars worth of weapons and ammunition, which included 1,000 automatic rifles, 30 heavy machine guns and 50 rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Richard Jacobs, Grenada’s ambassador to the Soviet Union, remarked at the time of the U.S. invasion, “We have the best Soviet, Czech and North Korean military equipment; we will win the fight, no question about it.”

Mr. Young makes good points, but the hermit kingdom isn’t the poor little political entity threatened by the US hegemonic power he’d like us to believe. The North Koreans have been paranoid forever. Just a few years before the Grenada invasion, Americans had been murdered by North Korean soldiers when the Americans were trimming a poplar tree that blocked their view of the North.

In a 1984 conversation with East German leader Erich Honecker, Kim Il Sung lamented, “Every year the American armies conduct a major military exercise. They conducted these exercises even before the Reagan era, but since Reagan took office this has grown.” Kim Il Sung also fretted to Honecker that Reagan would never withdraw U.S. troops from South Korea and the American military presence would impede his plans for the reunification of the Korean peninsula. Kim Il Sung perceived Reagan’s combination of staunch support for South Korea and militant rhetoric, on top of the invasion of Grenada, as a sign that North Korea might be next.

North Korea also started a nuclear weapons program for Syria that was discontinued by the Israelis in 2007’s Operation Orchard. How was that related to Grenada?

The truth is that President Clinton freed up cash for nuclear research in North Korea when he and Jimmy Carter provided freebies for the North. North Korea wants nuclear weapons, not for defense but because they view themselves as a world power, deserving the respect that they don’t get from the rest of the world.

The North Koreans want nuclear weapons to blackmail the world, just like Iran wants nuclear weapons to rule the Middle East. It’s too easy to blame the US foreign policy, particularly that of Republican Presidents, so that’s why the Left uses it as an excuse.

Category: North Korea

Comments (46)

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  1. Graybeard says:

    That does not fit the Narrative, Citizen. Stand by for a Google Associate to rectify your cognitive processes…

  2. Hondo says:

    Gee. If North Korea only developed nuclear weapons because of Grenada, why did they ask the USSR and China for assistance in developing nuclear weapons in 1963 and 1964, respectively? (Both refused.)

    However, the USSR did agree to help North Korea establish a “peaceful” nuclear program. And in 1979, the North Koreans began their own, indigenous reactor complex at Yongbyon – complete with ore processing plant and fuel rod fabrication plant. They also began large-scale uranium mining then or shortly thereafter.

    Significantly, this was about 4 years after the US SECDEF, James Schlessenger, had (1) confirmed the presence of US nuclear weapons in Korea, and (2) indicated the US would use those nuclear weapons if North Korea invaded South Korea. Just as significantly, the USSR and China had never indicated that they would protect North Korea using nuclear weapons, or that they would retaliate in kind if the US used nuclear weapons against North Korea as the result of North Korea invading South Korea.

    In short: it seems far more likely to me that North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons was a long-term program spurred to greater efforts by Schlessenger’s comments vice by Grenada. Building the infrastructure for development of nuclear weapons was begun about 4 years after Schlessenger’s 1975 comments concerning potential US use of nuclear weapons in a Korean conflict. My guess is that the delay was due to them approaching both the USSR and PRC for either assistance ind developing nuclear weapons a second time. Or, alternatively, North Korea approaching the USSR and PRC regarding being placed under either the USSR’s or PRC’s nuclear “umbrella” – and getting told to go pound sand in both cases. At that point, I’m guessing that Kim Il Sung said, “Screw it, we’ll develop them ourselves.”

    “Blaming Reagan” here seems either horribly superficial or overtly political (or both). While Grenada may have caused the North Koreans to speed up their efforts to develop nukes, it does appear that North Korea’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons began long before Reagan was elected POTUS.

    Sounds to me like this PhD candidate is trying to impress some professors with a political agenda instead of performing actual, you know, scholarship. Or maybe set himself up for post-doctoral employment. Or both.



    • Ret_25X says:

      more to the point…if the “logic” is that invading Grenada scared them that much, what did…I don’t know…say…invading North Korea do?

      What did so much strategic bombing that the USAF ran out of targets do?

      What did killing an estimated 1.5 million Nork and Chinese soldiers do?

      Using this guy’s logic one must conclude that none other than FDR is to blame for the Nork’s possession of nukes and if not him, then Harry S Truman.

      Because God forbid we blame the horses’ arse who is actually responsible…the leaders of North Korea. Nope, a socialist despot is never to blame for anything.

  3. Ex-PH2 says:

    Definitely a political agenda is at work here, but why? Is he counting on finding work in federal civil service or in a think tank? Not all think tanks are liberal. Oh, well, it’s his opinion, he’s entitled to it, even if he’s so far off-base he’ll need a warp drive to get back on track.

  4. SgtM says:

    I was there several times, he’s talking about Team Spirit. I got some poon tang in Wang dang Pohang. Gunny Highway ended that Grenada crap all by himself.

  5. 1610desig says:

    Sounds like some bullshit arcane dissertation material… I believe he should do some rigorous original research by visiting North Korea and conducting interviews with senior party leadership, and while he’s at it, helping himself to an enticing poster on the wall..

    • Hondo says:

      I’d suggest he effect entry by (1) booking a Panmunjom tour, and (2) then rushing across the “Bridge of No Return” immediately on arrival and without prior coordination with the North Korean guards. That should give him a good example of the “real North Korean experience” – if he survives it.

    • NEC338x says:

      My thesis is that North Korean nukes stem from John Henniger Reagan, the Confederacy’s postmaster general, and the Asian soldiers who fought for the South. Clearly there is a direct link between this military experience and the development of Korean weapons technology. Unfortunately I have to work for a living and haven’t been given the opportunity to defend my dissertation. I blame my white male privilege.

  6. timactual says:

    I guess the left has finally gotten over blaming everything on Nixon. Still a Republican, though, so there is some consistency.

    I look forward to hearing how many bad things Trump is responsible for. Oh, wait, they’ve already started.

  7. SFC D says:

    If you have a good imagination and try real hard, you could assign blame all the way to FDR or beyond. It all went to hell after Admiral Yi delivered a whoopin’ to the Japanese Navy.

    • Texas Nomad says:

      Was thinking the same thing. Every President shares some responsibility, and parsing out blame is really a waste of brainpower. The development of the isolated regime in NK that wants to be able to deliver nuclear weapons against Americans is a collective foreign policy failure owned by ever President and Congress since FDR.

  8. David says:

    Yeah, they have been holding their breath waiting for us to actually fire a shot or invade for almost 35 years…kinda suspect the oxygen starvation which ensued may explain so many things about Kim…

  9. Anonymous says:

    Um, didn’t Bill Clinton have something to do with this?

  10. The Other Whitey says:

    “Blah, blah, blah, America is responsible for all the bad stuff in the world, blah, blah…”

    The fact that this dumbass actually seems to think that the most sadistically-repressive dictatorship on the face of the Earth ever did anything to benefit anyone who wasn’t part of the Kim family, that they aren’t absurdly aggressive in everything they do, or that Grenada was happy under Cuban-backed commies, indicates his complete disconnection from reality. By the way, North Korea is what it is today because the Soviet Union set it up that way after WWII. Suck on that, Benny.

    • Poetrooper says:

      Whitey, what you and none of the others here seem to be taking into account is this kid’s likely age. As a PhD candidate, he’s probably in his late 20’s to early 30’s and as such, a completed product of the American educational system of the past three decades. And this is EXACTLY the product the Left sought to produce when they began their takeover of academia back in the late 60’s.

      Young people of today will probably find nothing notable about this kid’s findings, only that us old farts of an earlier era could be upset about it. It has to be true; after all it’s what they were taught from kindergarten through college.

  11. OWB says:

    Young’s explanation makes about as much sense as anything else coming from the left. Never, ever blame bad actions on the bad actors. No, no, no.


  12. Ex-PH2 says:

    I guess Mr. Young has forgotten that, back in April this year, there was a very real possibility that bad relations might crank up a lot.

    He should get out of his cloistered, paneled office with his comfy padded chair and breathe the fresh air, air his brains out. Obviously, lack of oxygen is contributing to his problem.

  13. CM says:

    What about the uranium that Clinton sold to Russia? I haven’t seen this brought up (anywhere) but why wouldn’t Russia sell some of it to NK once they received it? They could make a massive amount off even just a little bit to NK and since nobody else will sell to NK one has to wonder where they are getting their uranium from.

    In essence, are we even sure that their uranium isn’t the same uranium Clinton sold to Russia? How fucked up would that be…..

    • Commissar says:

      She did no sell uranium to Russia.

      The Russians bought a controlling interest in a uranium mining corporation called Uranium One.

      Regardless of whether Clinton was involved in helping the deal go through, and regardless of whether a donation to the Clinton Foundation was a graft to get her to facilitate the deal going through; Clinton did not sell the Russians Uranium.

      The Uranium One shareholders did. Or more accurately they sold a Russian company enough shares to allow the Russians to have controlling interest over the Uranium One mining company and mines.

      But nobody needs to have a controlling interest in a Uranium mining company to get uranium.

      You can but it off the market. Or buy a futures contract and accept delivery. Or just order some off Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000796XXM/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_jKpJzb7V1P64K.

      None of this is weapons grade. You cannot mine weapons grade out of the grounds. It has to be refined to become weapons grade.

  14. Commissar says:

    Reagan is not at fault for NK nuclear program. Neither is Clinton (and I hate Clinton) or Obama, or really any president.

    Though Bush Jr labeling NK as part of the axis of evil before invading another country he labeled part of the “axis of evil” on somewhat manufactured pretext did make it more difficult for the US to claim we are not a threat to NK. NK withdrew from the non proliferation treaty the next yeas (2003), but it is pretty clear that had a clandestine development program already operating anyway. Withdrawing just accelerated the process.

    NK was going to try to develop nukes pretty much no matter what we did. Short of invading them.

    The Soviets helped them build a nuclear research center in the 50s and trained NK scientists.

    By the 60s they had a nuclear test reactor.

    By the early 80s they had broken ground on building a reactor to refining yellow cake.

    By the late 80s they were refining yellow cake.

    Throughout the 90s their program went through stalls and starts as it played games with complying with the NPT and inspections in order to extract concessions.

    By 2001 the NPT process looked doomed. We had failed to help them build a power reactor and did not break grown on it until near the date is was originally scheduled to be completed. And after the Axis of Evil comment the entire cooperation effort began to break down.

    They withdrew from the NPT in 2003.

    And tested their first nuke in 2006.

    But I actually believe all this was inevitable. Pursuing nuclear power was a national imperative and they were going to do it no matter what. The cooperating with the NPT was just to extract concessions. They were going to continue to develop nukes through clandestine means and it is clear they did.

    North Korea sees pursuing a nuclear program as an impressive for the two primary reasons.

    1. The US is a threat to NK. Whether we intend to invade them or not it is completely legitimate for NK to see us as a threat. We are a superpower with the most powerful military in the world and a with a history of aggressive opposition to communism, we have invaded countries in the past, and we have been involved in decapitating or destabilizing regimes we do not like.

    Additionally, we are a nuclear power that has demonstrated the willingness to use them.

    No amount of pinky swearing is going to convince a paranoid regime like NK that we are not a threat.

    NK could never build a military capable of defeating us. But a handful of nukes and a delivery system capable of projecting them in US military or civilian locations is damn near all they need to maintain an indefinite stand-off through deterence.

    2. The nuclear program is a huge bargaining chip. It gives international leverage where they would essentially have none. It places them on the world stage as a relevant power.

    Hard to imagine any nation with the paranoia and cult of personality like regime NK had NOT pursing nuclear weapons.

    • UpNorth says:

      You must be a riot to listen to in person. You type to see your words on screen without saying anything, that’s why your posts are all “TL-DR”.
      I can only imagine people falling asleep on their feet as you drone on and on, and on. I’d bet you’d have given Fidel or Nikita a run for their money on boring an audience.

    • Hondo says:

      Only quibble I have with the above is that some open sources would the completion of refining and reprocessing infrastructure in the mid-1980s. That means they would have begun using those facilities in the mid-1980s as well.

      Otherwise, I agree.

      From North Korea’s perspective, development of nukes does make sense – particularly post-USSR – IF they can do so without triggering an economic implosion that results in an internal regime change (a starving population sometimes gets desperate enough not to give a damn about the consequences). The problems with that scenario are (1) Kim Jong Un appears even less stable and to have less sound judgement than his father, and (2) it’s unclear whether or not they’ll be able to avoid an implosion.

      If they feel they can’t – or if Kim Jong Un feels he might lose power for another reason, or just goes “off the deep end” – and their military continues to follow his orders, then invading South Korea becomes an apparently-viable strategy, regardless of the consequences.

  15. Doc Savage says:

    “he blames President Reagan’s invasion of Grenada in 1983 for North Korea’s nuclear weapons program”

    That’s probably the longest dissertation on confirmation bias currently in circulation.

    Ronald Reagan is the krypton of the liberals.

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