The Axis of Evil
...Or, what passes for it in 2006, wrapped up a "board meeting" in Havana on Saturday, with the usual litany of complaints against the U.S., and expressions of solid support for Iran's burgeoning nuclear program.
The gathering was officially a summit of the 118 nations that belong to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), but the meeting was dominated by North Korea, Venezuela, Iran and Cuba. In a statement regarding Tehran's nuclear program, the four nations reaffirmed "the basic and inalienable right of all states to develop research, production and use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes."
And, if that weren't enough, North Korea's #2 leader, Kim Young Nam, claimed that his country developed nuclear arms as a "deterrent" against the U.S. to guarantee the peace and security of the Korean peninsula and the region."
Of course, Mr. Kim glosses over the fact that Pyongyang acquired those weapons during a period when it had officially agreed to "give up" its nuclear program, under the disasterous 1994 "Agreed To" framework between the U.S. and the North. And, North Korea developed its arsenal when the American "nuclear threat" to the DPRK was actually declining. The United States removed tactical nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula in the early 1990s, as sort of an ill-advised "good will" gesture. Admittedly, the U.S. still has plenty of nukes in the region, but Mr. Kim's statements--like most of those from North Korean officials--go against the grain of truth and logic.
But that doesn't matter at forums like the one in Havana, where the U.S. is the eternal bogeyman and the root of all global evil. Ordinarily, the bluster out of a NAM conference wouldn't cause much concern, but the rules have clearly changed. Pyongyang's development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology, financed with the oil money from Iran and Venezuela, has created an ideal environment for unchecked WMD proliferation over the next decade. Under those conditions, it's not hard to imagine nuclear-armed regimes in Iran, Syria, Venezuela (along with North Korea), within 10 years; all equipped with medium or long-range missiles capable of hitting the United States.
In years past, statements like those from Havana would be dismissed as little more than predictable boilerplate. But under the evolving Pyongyang-Tehran-Caracas-Havana "axis of evil," such communiques are more a blueprint than propaganda.