What countries, other than China and Russia, are publicly opposed to foreign intervention in North Korea?
While no country wants to see an intervention in the Korean Peninsula that causes billions of dollars of destruction, kills potentially tens of thousands of people, and destabilizes Northeast Asia, there are some countries that oppose an intervention, particularly a U.S.-led intervention, against North Korea for ideological or geopolitical reasons. Since its establishment as an independent political entity following the end of World War II, North Korea has remained the most opaque and militarized nation in the world. It has a long track record of carrying out acts of terrorism and military assaults against the U.S.-allied government to the south. Its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs are regularly displayed and even used to both threaten its neighbors and to remind the world of its presence.
Given that history of repression and belligerence, it is not surprising that North Korea has few allies, especially since the end of the Cold War and fall of communist governments across Central and Eastern Europe. It is also not surprising that the list of countries that maintain close relations with North Korea are also those that tend to run afoul of international law and that maintain repressive systems. Part of the reason for this self-imposed isolation is Pyongyang’s virtually psychotic need to insulate itself from outside cultural and political influences lest its destitute population be exposed to alternative political and economic options. It is in this context that a list of countries, other than Russia and China, that oppose outside intervention in North Korea can be compiled.
Countries that are vocal opponents of intervention in North Korea are mainly those with hostile relationships with the United States, and that have their own internal problems or issues that could raise fears of an eventual U.S. attack on them. Once a country supports military interventions against another country, it opens the door to the suggestion that such interventions are morally appropriate. Syria, for example, would never support an intervention in North Korea because of its own ongoing fears of U.S.-led military operations against its government during its civil war. Similarly, the Iranians are staunch opponents of an attack on North Korea because of its nuclear weapons programs, which have been an ongoing target of threats of military intervention by the United States and Israel. Cuba and Venezuela have prided themselves on adopting foreign policy positions in opposition to U.S. policies and maintain relationships with any country that is hostile to the U.S. and, consequently, oppose an intervention.
There are other countries that quietly oppose foreign intervention in North Korea out of concerns for the effect such an action would have on global financial markets and out of concern for the possible destabilization of the region. Many countries in the European Union fall into this category. Japan, a close U.S. ally in the region, is frequently a target of North Korean threats, and Pyongyang’s 1998 firing of a long-range missile over Japanese territory was seen as particularly provocative, but the Japanese fear the flood of Korean refugees that would almost certain result from another war on the Peninsula. The governments that are most openly opposed to an intervention, though, are those listed above, including Syria and Iran.