Traffic Pattern

Kurlantzick, Joshua
March 2003
New Republic;3/24/2003, Vol. 228 Issue 11, p12
In recent weeks, as nuclear tensions have mounted between the United States and North Korea, many commentators, and some officials in the administration of George W. Bush, have emphasized the frightening prospect of Pyongyang, North Korea loading newly manufactured nuclear warheads onto its long-range missiles. More terrifying, Pyongyang could sell its fissile material on criminal black markets. In fact, more than Iraq, Iran, or even Al Qaeda, North Korea is perfectly positioned to proliferate fissile matter, for a reason that has gotten little recent attention: The North Korean diplomatic corps, over the last decade, has evolved into a global criminal network involved in counterfeiting, drug trafficking, and arms trading. Since the end of the cold war, when Pyongyang's Stalinist economy began to implode, North Korea's foreign service has gone from working to spread international socialism to struggling to feed itself. According to a 1999 investigative report by the Congressional Research Service, North Korea has been involved in at least 30 incidents linked to drug trafficking; in December 2002, American military officials in Seoul announced that drug trafficking had become a crucial source of foreign currency for Pyongyang.


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