War and Peace Decided on the Seas?

Once again, the seas are the stage for events with global implications. This time, it could be war or peace.


Much of the world holds its breath as reports of continued nuclear testing in North Korea make headline news. For years, we have heard rumblings of possible nuclear weapon development in this country, but with recent activity, the question has been answered: North Korea has nuclear weapons, and they are not afraid to use them or sell them.


According to an article by David A. Sanger appearing in the June 15, 2009 online edition of the The New York Times, “North Korea has disavowed its past commitments to give up those [nuclear] weapons, and said it would never bow to the demands of the United States, its allies, or the United Nations . . . . The North said it would reprocess its remaining stockpile of spent nuclear fuel into plutonium, adding to an existing stockpile believed sufficient to make six or eight weapons.”


These statements have increased global fears that North Korea’s current status as a desperate, hurting country may lead them to put more of their nuclear and missile technology on the sale block. The transportation of these nuclear sales is predominantly by sea. According to United Nations document #SC/9679, the United Nations Security Council recently passed a resolution allowing “Member States to inspect and destroy all banned cargo to and from that country [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]—on the high seas, at seaports and airports—if they have reasonable grounds to suspect a violation.”


President Obama’s order to the United States Navy is to track suspected vessels, hail them, and ask permission to inspect the cargo. If permission to board and search is denied, the ship will continue to be tracked, and every attempt will be made to ensure that inspections will be carried out by any country allowing the ship to dock at its ports. This policy stops just short of forcibly inspecting suspect vessels. North Korea has avowed that any forced inspection shall be considered an act of war, and they will respond with military action.

Not long ago, the world was focused on piracy and safety at sea. Now, the worries center on North Korea’s transportation of arms and nuclear technology by sea, as well as potential conflicts over inspecting North Korean ships, including possible military action—maybe even war. How the world powers choose to react toward North Korea’s activities on global seas could determine at least some of humanity’s survival. How the world powers choose to protect our seas will certainly affect our future.


Could much war and peace around the globe be decided on the seas? I think it is possible. Review the following documents and share your conclusions with me!

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