It was known to the various experts that North Korea poses no real “nuclear threat”. It has sound reason to build nuclear weapon systems and it had never threatened to use them in any offensive capability.

But the “western” public learned little of these issue until now. It is somewhat refreshing to find two newspapers today which explain the basic issues.

First: Why does North Korea believe that nuclear weapon capability is to its people’s advantage?

Mr. Kim was using the rare political gathering to rally the party behind his so-called “byungjin” policy. On Saturday, Mr. Kim said that policy was not a temporary step but his party’s “permanent strategic line.”

The byungjin — or “parallel advance” — policy calls for stockpiling nuclear weapons in the belief that the deterrent would allow the country to focus on economic recovery.

During the Korea war North Korea was totally devastated. Nearly a third of its population died. Its industries were destroyed. Hardly any structure with more than one level had not been bombed. Thereafter North Korea poured an immense amount of human and material resources into the build up and maintenance of a large conventional army. The threat from the U.S. army and its South Korean cannon fodder was perceived as huge. All civil development was subordinate to a “military first” policy.

Attempts to find some accommodation with the U.S. failed. The probably best chance had been the Agreed Framework of 1994 that would have compensated North Korea for giving up any nuclear plans with hydrocarbon fuel deliveries and commercial nuclear reactors. Both the Clinton and the Bush administration first sabotaged and then abandoned the framework.

North Korea then decided to proceed with its byungjin policy. A credible nuclear weapon capability as deterrent against any invasion or decisive strike would allow for massive decreases in front line troops and mass artillery units. The saved expenses and resources would then be used for civil purposes. There are some signs that this strategy actually works. Currently neither the U.S. nor South Korea would dare to attack North Korea even though its nuclear arsenal is only small and unproven. According to some estimates the North Korean economy is now growing at a healthy 7% per years.

But “western” hawks, especially the revisionist rightwingers in Japan, want to use the imaginary “nuclear threat” from North Korea to build up their own (nuclear) capabilities. The U.S. military wants to use the “threat” from North Korea to install long range missile defense systems in South Korea. These systems would be useless against any North Korean system but could probably neutralize Chinese capabilities.

It is therefore important that North Korea now declared that it would not use its new weapon systems against South Korea or Japan unless these countries themselves deploy nuclear forces against it:

During the congress, Kim repeated the line that North Korea would not go on the offensive with its weapons.

“As a responsible nuclear weapons state, our republic will not use a nuclear weapon unless its sovereignty is encroached upon by any aggressive hostile forces with nukes,” Kim told the meeting, according to KCNA.

One might argue that such declarative policies are of no value but the seventy years history of nuclear deterrence have been build on such declarations and so far all of these have held what they promised.