NORTH KOREA….Matt Yglesias sums up the latest moves in the North Korea game, and his post got me thinking about something. I keep hearing that one of our fears is that North Korea will build nuclear bombs and sell them to terrorists in order to raise badly needed hard currency. Now I happen to think that North Korea building nuclear bombs for any reason is a very bad thing indeed, but would they really sell them to terrorists? How much would a terrorist pay for a nuclear bomb?
I mean, al-Qaeda is the richest terrorist group around, right? But even they couldn’t afford to pay more than ? at a stretch ? a few tens of millions of dollars. And in the great scheme of things, that’s chump change. Better relations with China, South Korea, Japan, and the United States would be worth at least a hundred times that much.
Yes, yes, I know that Kim Jong-il is a peculiar person and all that, but he can’t have taken leave of his senses so completely as to think that selling nuclear bombs actually makes sense as a trading strategy, can he?
Building nuclear bombs may be a good way of getting people to pay attention to you, but it’s a lousy way of addressing your current accounts deficit. So my question is: are we worried about this because it’s a real possibility, or are we worred about it simply because every foreign policy problem these days has to be related to the war on terrorism?