Will North Korea’s Kim Deliver An ‘october Surprise’ To Trump
- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile in this photo released in September 2017. Nuclear-armed Pyongyang could be weighing a summit or provocation ahead of November’s U.S. presidential election, experts say. | KCNA / VIA REUTERS
In the three years since the world came closer to nuclear catastrophe than it had in years, North Koreas place in the American and Japanese political consciousness has dissipated, with the response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic taking center stage less than four months before the U.S. presidential election.
Although verbal threats of fire and fury and flights over or near Japan of missiles thought capable of carrying nuclear bombs as far as the continental U.S. have all but vanished, Pyongyang still retains its ever-growing and improving nuclear arsenal something the North has gone out of its way to highlight.
Donald Trumps North Korea Gambit: What Worked What Didnt And Whats Next
The last four years proved once again that Kim Jing-un is rational and therefore able to be deterred not the madman with nukes that is so often portrayed and that he is sufficiently interested in talks to voluntarily halt nuclear and long-range missile tests while they were going on, to slow his march if not to halt it altogether.
Its easy to criticize Donald Trump on North Korea: the declarations of love for a brutal dictator, the disdain for details and history, the photo opportunities where the strategy should have been, but while the execution may have been lacking, he did attempt a new approach, and that offers important lessons for the incoming administration.
It did not get off to an auspicious start. During Trumps first year in office, Kim Jong-un tested his first intercontinental ballistic missiles, demonstrating the potential to reach the U.S. homeland for the first time, along with a slew of short and medium-range projectiles and what appeared to be his first hydrogen bomb.
But it was the summit with Donald Trump in Singapore in June 2018 that made history, as Kim Jong Un became the first North Korean leader to meet a sitting U.S. president a feat neither his father nor his grandfather achieved.
This article originally appeared on The National Interest.
Trump The Paradoxical Peacemaker In The Nuclear
As is often the case with Trump, there is a measure of truth to his claims. He has been able to position himself advantageously as a peacemaker, and even dream of receiving a Nobel peace prize, like Obama before him. In 2019, he said that he had been nominated by Japans then Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, and endorsed for the prize by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. They praised Trumps initiative to enter into direct dialogue and hold summits with Kim, which was undeniably daring and unexpected. The June 2018 meeting in Singapore between the two leaders did certainly make an impact, seeming to be a remarkable and promising event, inasmuch as it put an end to the escalating verbal conflict that was set off in summer 2017. That was when Trump threatened to unleash fire and fury, stating that his general staff did not rule out taking military action against North Korea.
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This Is How Nuclear War With North Korea Would Unfold
No one wants to fight a nuclear war. Not in North Korea, not in South Korea and not in the United States. And yet leaders in all three countries know that such a war may yet come if not by choice then by mistake. The world survived tense moments on the Korean Peninsula in 1969 , 1994 and 2010. Each time, the parties walked to the edge of danger, peered into the abyss, then stepped back. But what if one of them stumbled, slipped over the edge and, grasping for life, dragged the others down into the darkness?
This is how that might happen, based on public statements, intelligence reports and blast-zone maps.
For years, North Korea had staged provocations and South Korea had lived with them. The two had come close to war before: In 2010, a North Korean torpedo detonated just below a South Korean navy corvette, cutting the ship in two and sending 46 sailors to their deaths. Later that year, when North Korean artillery barraged a South Korean island and killed four more people, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak reportedly ordered aircraft to deliver a counter-strike deep inside North Korea, but the U.S. military held him back.
This time was different. No one thought President Moon Jae-in, a South Korean progressive known for his attempts to engage the North, would want blood. But nobody grasped how quickly accidental violence could take on its own urgent logic.
Trump: No More Nuclear Threat From North Korea
U.S. President Donald Trump declared Wednesday, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” as he returned home from a summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!”
Kim agreed Tuesday “to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” during the summit, while Trump unexpectedly said he was suspending military drills with South Korea.
Trump on Wednesday said “We save a fortune by not doing war games, as long as we are negotiating in good faith – which both sides are!”
The document the two leaders signed did not include details of how and when North Korea would denuclearize, nor did it spell out exactly what “security guarantees” the United States would provide to North Korea.
No specifics Critics pointed to the lack of specifics in the agreement while questioning whether Trump gave up too much while securing too little in return during his several hours of talks with Kim in what was the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.
Trump has defended the agreement as a major step in dealing with the threat of nuclear-armed North Korea and said he believed Kim’s government would start the process of living up to the agreement right away.
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Pompeo Went Into Talks A Skeptic
It’s unclear whether new intelligence about North Korea’s continued nuclear activity played a role in Trump’s last-minute decision to pull Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from making a scheduled visit to Pyongyang for talks. Two people familiar with the matter said Pompeo, who’d become deeply familiar with the intelligence on Pyongyang as CIA director, went into talks with North Korea deeply skeptical that the effort would work, and the process has since only solidified his belief that it won’t. Officials said he’s far more optimistic that the U.S. could cut a deal with Iran.
A former senior administration official briefed on the negotiation process said of Pompeo pulling back his trip to Pyongyang: “They’re confronted with mounting evidence on all fronts that the North Koreans aren’t cooperating.”
Inside The Collapse Of Trumps Korea Policy
When it comes to Americas last-ditch effort to prevent North Korea from becoming a nuclear power, timing has been everything. Now times running out.
Earlier this month, at a NATO summit in London, Donald Trump that we have peace with North Korea and that he had a better personal relationship with Kim Jong Un than the dictator had with possibly anyone else in the world.
Hours later, I stood in a hotel ballroom in Washington, D.C., with U.S. and South Korean officials and North Korea experts at a reception hosted by the Korea Foundation, a public-diplomacy organization affiliated with the South Korean government. The presidents North Korea envoy, Stephen Biegun, spoke in subdued tones about how he felt the weight of the past year on his own shoulders, his actual slouched shoulders completing the picture of a diplomat repeatedly spurned. Obviously we have not made as much progress as we would have hoped at this point, but let me be absolutely clear: We have not given up, he stated, the platitude seeming to belie the message.
Washington and Pyongyang are returning so easily to the bad old days because the underlying issue that occasioned the 2017 showdownNorth Koreas development of nuclear weapons that can threaten the whole world, including the United States and its allieshas not dissipated one bit despite all the diplomacy, and has in fact become more grave.
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What Does North Korea Want
As for North Koreaâs goals, analysts said the country is probably willing to remove some capabilities it no longer needs and may agree not to increase the size of its arsenal. But Kim wonât give up his nuclear weapons, they said.
Victor Cha, Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, predicted during a discussion in Washington last week that Kimâs approach will be to âactually not really giving up anything.â At the same time, heâll have âclear demands for the United States to give up things very much in the presentâ possibly including military exercises, troop deployments and sanctions.
North Korea currently faces United Nations sanctions and separate sanctions from the United States. The UN blocks some imports and exports and has frozen the assets of individuals connected with Pyongyangâs nuclear program. The United States restricts the North Korean economy further and targets more individuals.
CNBCâs Huileng Tan contributed to this report.
Experts: Biden Thought Likely To Reverse Trumps North Korea Policies
The Biden administration is likely to reverse the Trump administrations North Korea policies, but experts see little hope for significant progress toward denuclearization in the face of Pyongyangs determination to strengthen its nuclear arsenal.
As the new Biden administration gears up to formulate policies toward North Korea, experts think the administration will probably return to the incremental approach to denuclearization that was the norm before former President Donald Trumps term in office.
The U.S. traditionally favored a step-by-step approach where Washington would grant series of small concessions or rewards such as sanctions relief or economic incentives as Pyongyang takes small steps along the trajectory of long-term denuclearization.
I think the Biden administration is likely to seek incremental dismantlement of North Koreas nuclear program in exchange for incremental sanctions relief, said Gary Samore, who served as the White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction during the Obama administration.
As we saw at the Hanoi summit, Kim Jong Un is not willing to accept a big deal for complete denuclearization in exchange for complete sanctions relief, said Samore, referring to North Koreas leader.
At the Hanoi Summit in February 2019, Trump proposed a big deal to Kim.
The days of a small deal or a big deal are almost certainly over, said Revere.
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Will North Korea Play Nuclear Hide
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In what would be the most accelerated disarmament program in history,the Trump Administration hopes to dismantle North Koreas nuclear,biological, and chemical weapons, and its ballistic missiles, within ayear, John Bolton, the national-security adviser, claimed on Face theNation on Sunday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to makehis third trip to Pyongyang this week, to begin the process, which hetold Congress needed to be wrapped up by the end of President Trumpscurrent termin two and a half years. Even that time frame is ambitiouslyfast, given the scope of Kim Jong Uns vast arsenal and growingindications that North Korea hopes to hide at least some of itsweaponry. It has multiple secretfacilities,as the Washington Post reported over the weekend. U.S. intelligence istracking the secret underground Kangsong facility, which may be able toproduce twice as much enriched uranium as Yongbyon can. Yongbyon is thecountrys only declared nuclear-production site.
The U.S. effort in North Korea faces similar challenges. What if webelieve North Korea has enough fissile material for thirty-five weaponsand it only declares thirty? Frank Aum, a former senior adviser onNorth Korea in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, who is now at theU.S. Institute of Peace, told me. Will the Administration say, That’sgood enough, and declare victory?
Will Biden Go Big Or Go Backward On North Korea Diplomacy
Upon taking office, Joe Biden will have to make crucial decisions on how to approach nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang and how to manage the U.S.-South Korea alliance. If he chooses wisely, his administration could prove transformational for the Korean Peninsula. If he errs, he risks being responsible for tragedy.
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Where Is Us Diplomacy In India
As CCN.com reported earlier this week, Trumps voice has been suspiciously absent as tensions flare between India and Pakistan. Two nuclear states with immense military firepower at their disposal.
India launched airstrikes into Pakistan territory on Monday 21st February, breaching the de facto border for the first time in 40 years. The aggression came after Pakistan militants killed 40 Indians in a suicide attack.
Typically, the US has used its diplomatic leverage to act as a peacemaker in the region. Former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice famously pulled India and Pakistan back from the brink of war in 2008. She visited India to urge caution after the Mumbai attacks.
Neither Trump nor his secretary of state Mike Pompeo has shown much tact or diplomacy in addressing the tensions this time around.
Since elected, Trump has come down hard on Pakistan, slashing US military aid. Meanwhile, he has heaped praise on India and strengthened military deals. If war breaks out between the two nuclear nations, its clear where Trumps allegiance lies.
Meanwhile, China is lining up behind Pakistan, supplying the nation with nuclear technology and arms. Theres an epic power battle escalating behind the scenes and Trump appears clueless.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.com.
An Old Strategy On Weak Foundations
Though Washingtons enduring North Korea strategy has not been contained in a document passed down through administrations, it has remained remarkably consistent from Clinton through Trump. It could be summarized as: Negotiate an end to North Koreas nuclear weapons program through diplomatic and economic leverage, while maintaining regional stability and minimizing risk through multilateral diplomacy, military restraint, and extended deterrence guarantees to U.S. allies. Aside from some vague threats of military force, this strategy primarily relied on economic pressure and incentives as the leverage to achieve denuclearization, though diplomatically isolating or recognizing Pyongyang was also considered essential leverage.
Nevertheless, Washington remained trapped by these untenable assumptions, in part because of what discarding them would mean for larger priorities like regional stability, global non-proliferation, and relations with China. If Washington acknowledged that it did not have sufficient leverage to get the Kim regime to negotiate away its nuclear program, it could be seen as accepting North Korea as a nuclear-armed power or presenting military conflict as the only recourse. Either possibility was seen as politically unpalatable and unacceptably risky, particularly while North Koreas nuclear progress remained limited and hopes for denuclearization diplomacy continued.
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The Significance Of North Koreas Missile Tests
An increase in activity.In recent months, North Korea has conducted several missile tests, hinting at an increasingly defiant attitude toward countries that oppose its growing military arsenal. Heres what to know:
U.N. resolutions.Tensions on the Korean Peninsula started rising in 2017, when North Korea tested three intercontinental ballistic missiles and conducted a nuclear test. The United Nations imposed sanctions, and Pyongyang stopped testing nuclear and long-range missiles for a time.
Failed diplomacy.Former President Donald Trump met with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, three times between 2018 and 2019, hoping to reach a deal on North Koreas nuclear and missile programs. After the talks broke down, North Korea resumed missile testing.
An escalation.North Korea started a new round of testing in September 2021 after a six-month hiatus. It has since completed several tests, including the firing of multiple intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles, that violated the 2017 U.N. resolutions.
A new provocation.On Oct. 4, 2022, North Korea fired an intermediate range ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years. The missile flew about 2,800 miles, the longest distance ever traveled by a North Korean weapon, according to officials in Tokyo and Seoul.
The Implications Of A North Korean Open
A North Korean atmospheric nuclear test could well spark a rolling summer of 1914-style crisis.
As Donald Trumps threats against North Korea have accelerated this year, the North has responded with its characteristically over-the-top rhetoric. Recently, it threatened to fire nuclear weapons into the sea around the US territory of Guam, leading to this crisis most memorable public takeaway: the government of that island encouraged care in the use of conditioner post-strike, lest radioactive debris cleave to ones hair.
Last month, the North made another outlandish threat. This time it would test a nuclear device in the north Pacific. South Korean intelligence is hinting at yet another imminent North Korean nuclear test. Could this the first open-air nuclear test in decades? And would this serve as a casus belli for the administration of US President Donald Trump? I have suggested previously that Trump may be trying to bait North Korean leader Kim Jong Un into a provocation outrageous enough to justify the use of force. It certainly feels that way when Trump ad-libs unnecessarily provocative language like fire and fury or totally destroy North Korea. Trump himself seems decidedly against diplomacy with Pyongyang.
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