North Korea’s deadliest weapon? Its hackers | John Naughton
As Sony Pictures and the New York Federal Reserve will attest, the regime has become extremely skilled, and successful, at cyber attacks
Rule No 1 in international relations: do not assume that your adversary is nuts. Rule No 2: do not underestimate his capacity to inflict serious damage on you. We in the west are currently making both mistakes with regard to North Korea. Our reasons for doing so are, at one level, understandable. In economic terms, the country is a basket case. According to the CIA’s world factbook, its per-capita GDP is $1,800 or less, compared with nearly $40,000 for the UK and $53,000 for the US. Its industrial infrastructure is clapped out and nearly beyond repair; the country suffers from chronic food, energy and electricity shortages and many of its people are malnourished. International sanctions are squeezing it almost to asphyxiation. And, to cap it all, it’s led by a guy whose hairdo is almost as preposterous as Donald Trump’s.
And yet this impoverished basket case has apparently been able to develop nuclear weapons, plus the rocketry needed to deliver them to Los Angeles and its environs. Given the retaliatory capacity of the US, this is widely taken as proof that Kim Jong-un must be out of what might loosely be called his mind. Which is where rule No1 comes in. Kim’s priority is to avoid regime change. He knows that if you have nukes, then no one – not even Trump – is going to try any funny business, especially when it’s clear that a seriously aggressive move by the US would mean the death of hundreds of thousands of South Koreans. The North Korean leader’s rationale for developing nuclear weapons that are ready for deployment is identical to Britain’s rationale for renewing Trident: deterrence.