North Korea takes time to celebrate, but nuclear threats continue - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 15 April 2013

North Korea is today celebrating the 101st anniversary of the birth of its founding father, amid ongoing threats of nuclear war from the secretive communist country.


North Korea takes time to celebrate, but nuclear threats continue

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 15 April 2013


By Richard Vaughan

North Korea is today celebrating the 101st anniversary of the birth of its founding father, amid ongoing threats of nuclear war from the secretive communist country.

Tens of thousands of people gathered on Monday morning in North Korean capital Pyongyang to commemorate the birth of Kim Il Sung, the country’s first leader and grandfather of current leader Kim Jong Un. But pressure is mounting on the country’s government to enter talks after it carried out its third nuclear test in February.

The country has been issuing near-daily threats to both the United States and neighbouring South Korea, stating that it would carry out pre-emptive nuclear strikes against both countries, as well as Japan. The current stand-off began after the US successfully persuaded the United Nations to introduce sanctions against North Korea as punishment for its nuclear tests.

The US has repeatedly called on Pyongyang to enter talks and honour its international commitments to embark on a programme of decommissioning its nuclear weapons. Current international rules allow some nations – especially those in the West, such as Britain, France and the US – to have nuclear weapons, while banning most others.

But the current situation raises the wider question of whether Western nuclear powers should have the right to prevent other countries from developing their own nuclear arms and governing as they see fit.

Today the world awaits North Korea’s next move, but after a period of incredibly hostile rhetoric any act of perceived aggression would trigger serious concern.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is currently in the final days of a tour of northeast Asia, said any missile launch in the current climate would be a “huge mistake”.

“The United States remains open to authentic and credible negotiations on denuclearisation, but the burden is on Pyongyang,” Mr Kerry said. “North Korea must take meaningful steps to show it will honour commitments it has already made.”

South Korea has made repeated peaceful overtures to its neighbour, but the country’s armed forces have been on alert since the North’s latest nuclear tests in February.

While North Korea’s missiles are unlikely to be able to reach the US mainland, it is capable of targeting its neighbour to the south, Japan and US military bases on the Pacific island of Guam.



Questions:

  • What do we mean by 'sanctions' in this context? What do the United Nations hope to achieve with this tactic?
  • In your opinion, should some countries be allowed to have nuclear weapons, but not others? Explain your answer.
  • If you were living in North Korea, how do you imagine you might feel about the threat of nuclear strikes being launched?
  • How much do you already know about North Korea and Kim Il Sung? Where could you find out more?

Resources for you


Korean War

  • Find out about the Korean War with this PowerPoint-based resource to help students understand its causes and main events.

Origins of the Cold War

  • Lesson on the origins of the Cold War including communism vs capitalism and post war conferences.

The Bomb Factor

  • Explore the debate around nuclear weapons in the style of The X Factor with this extensive lesson where students discuss the arguments for and against nuclear weapons.

Timeline of a nuclear explosion

  • An activity from TES partner Peace Education exploring the effects of a nuclear explosion.


Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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