Thursday, January 29, 2004

For Goodness Sake, Why?

What is the Obasanjo administration thinking, to get in bed with the North Koreans, of all the regimes on this planet? And why chose to do so on the matter of missile technology? Here is an administration faced with a host of difficult problems to solve, and it wilfully chooses to compound them by trying to acquire technology it doesn't need from a regime that is universally loathed. Obasanjo must be insane!

NORTH Korea has offered Nigeria missile technology but Abuja has not taken up the offer, a spokesman said yesterday, clarifying an earlier statement that Nigeria was seeking such weapons.

A spokesman for Vice-President Atiku Abubakar said the subject of arms sales had come up at a meeting in Abuja, Tuesday, between Atiku and his North Korean counterpart, Yang Hyong-Sop. Spokesman Onukaba Ojo ,who had earlier said Atiku had met the North Korean delegation to discuss buying missiles , said he had since discussed the matter with Nigerian defence officials and found that the suggestion had come from North Korea.

"They came to us wanting a memorandum of understanding signed with us towards developing missile technology and training and manufacture of ammunition. They were just trying to get us interested," Ojo said.

"There hasn't been any interest shown on our side. We're not interested, but we didn't tell them that that way," he said.

FG's move may annoy Washington

Any move by Nigeria to acquire North Korean ballistic missiles is sure to annoy Washington, which is locked in a bitter stand-off with Pyongyang over its nuclear ambitions and international arms sales.

Kim Jong-Il's regime , which US President George W. Bush regards as a member of a so-called "axis of evil" , earns much of its hard currency by selling and swapping missile and weapons secrets.

North Korea has developed missiles capable of carrying warheads as far as Japan, and is reported to have shared its technology with Libya, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Pakistan and Saddam Hussein's former Iraqi regime.

Profits from the proliferation are said by US intelligence to feed back into North Korea's search for a nuclear weapon. Nigeria, by contrast, is seen as a friend of the United States.

Bush visited Abuja last year and praised President Olusegun Obasanjo for his leadership within Africa. Some 15 per cent of the United States' crude oil needs are supplied by Nigeria's burgeoning oil industry.

Ojo insisted that Abuja's talks with Pyongyang should not give Washington cause to worry, and promised that Nigeria was not at all interested in acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

"I'm sure that Nigeria is not dreaming of nuclear weapons at all, just missile technology," he said, adding that the foundry discussed at Tuesday's meeting would be for civilian use. If you're acquiring technology for peaceful purpose I don't think that should make our allies uneasy," he added.

Earlier, Atiku's office had released a statement implying that military links with North Korea were nothing new.

"He assured that government would continue to co-operate with the Korean government in the defence sector, an area in which both Nigeria and North Korea have co-operated over the years," the statement said. (emphasis added)

This Atiku character is talking absolute rubbish. What peaceful use is there for North Korean missile technology? The worst thing about this is that Nigeria faces absolutely no military threats whatsoever from its neighbors, making this not just a boneheaded move from a political perspective, but also an entirely unnecessary one. A sane government would be trying its best to cultivate stronger ties with the United States, rather than choosing the most sensitive issue on the American agenda on which to engage in wayward behavior.