Justin Smith quite correctly alerts readers that nuclear peace in our time with North Korea is unlikely without trustworthy verification of any signed agreement. I concur, and you should too.
JRH 5/8/18 [updated 4:23 PM CT – again updated 7:47 PM CT with added source links Justin Smith]
The World Holds Its Breath
Kim’s Word Means Nothing
By Justin O. Smith
Sent 5/5/2018 11:00 PM
North Korea and Kim Jong Un are far from “honorable”, and President Trump’s administration and everybody else must not lose their minds in a premature adulation and singing Trump’s praises, in anticipation of a Nobel Peace Prize, before they taste the proof in the pudding. Yes, it is true that President Trump’s tough talk and his tight economic sanctions on North Korea have captured Kim’s attention and seemingly renewed his interest in playing nice in the realm of international affairs and abandoning his nuclear weapons program; but, further success is highly unlikely as the historical record shows, despite the short memories of the American people and their hopes that this president and the U.S. will not “get played” once more.
Kim Jong Un is far from an ordinary dictator. He has murdered his own senior military officers for the slightest of perceived insults, he executed his uncle and he had his brother assassinated. And just a few short months ago, he was threatening U.S. cities and territories with nuclear annihilation.
In a surreal moment, America witnessed North Korea’s evil Little Dictator and South Korean President Moon Jae In shake hands on April 27th in Panmunjom, as Kim first stepped across the demarcation line into South Korea and Moon reciprocated and stepped into North Korea; and, they later signed the ‘Panmunjom Agreement’ this day, that stated in part, “there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and thus a new era of peace has begun.”
Who could have imagined six months ago, that the world would see the leaders of North and South Korea embrace or hear South Korean President Moon Jae In recommend President Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize?
President Trump does deserve credit for taking North Korea to task for its evil acts and malfeasance, such as the horrific torture that resulted in Otto Warmbier’s death — a slow murder that culminated weeks after the torture hollowed out the mind of this young man, whose only “crime” was seeking a souvenir of his visit. He also ordered the U.S Treasury Department to clamp down on North Korea through economic sanctions, and he motivated the United Nations Security Council to do the same, in response to an assortment of aggressive North Korean missile tests.
However, President Trump’s negotiators, the American people and the international coalition overseeing this matter of North Korean denuclearization should not fool itself with high expectations and see successes where none exist, until they are in fact verified. The world has been here with North Korea on numerous other occasions.
In May of 1972, a similar agreement was reached between the Korean Bureau CIA director, Lee Hu Rak, and Kim Family Regime cadre members in Pyongyang, but nothing came from it. In 1989, Pyongyang held out the hope of a nuclear free Korean Peninsula, and afterwards, it began requiring conditions from the George H.W. Bush administration and won one concession after another, sending the message that America could be played.
There was also the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in 1992, which was obviously discarded by North Korea. North Korea ultimately refused to sign a “safeguards” agreement, and it perpetrated mass deception, as it designated its nuclear plants as something they were not.
The Clinton administration essentially abandoned all efforts towards inspections. Under Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the United States gave away the farm, appeasing North Korea [PDF pages 15,16 & 20] through shipments of food and oil, essentially speaking softly and carrying a big carrot.
Trump’s team must deal with the facts that North Korea’s production of fissile material is continuing at a furious pace, and according to the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, North Korea is producing enough material for twelve nuclear weapons a year, also detailed by Adam Mount and Ankit Panda on April 21st in The Atlantic. Also, the U.S. must note that in 2012, North Korea simply reclassified its nuclear missile tests as space launches to circumvent its 2012 agreement. Even now, there are indications that North Korea is continuing work on its most advanced ICBM, the Hwasong-15.
Although Kim did state that nuclear missile tests would be suspended for the foreseeable future, Western media missed the core of Kim’s message. Kim’s moratorium is, in his mind, the next logical step to a fully operational nuclear weapons program, not a concession to the United States before any comprehensive negotiations over his nuclear program. Not once has Kim uttered the word “denuclearization”.
Even President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense, William Perry was wary of any North Korean promises, telling the New York Times: “I’d rather [face the risk] of war than face the risk of even greater catastrophe two or three years from now.
Just as with past regimes, Kim’s word and signature on paper mean absolutely nothing. He can break any moratorium or any agreement and treaty, just as Pyongyang did in 2006, when it broke a 1999 moratorium on missile launches. His pledge to a temporary moratorium on his nuclear program and halting the proliferation of nuclear technology is not worth the paper it is printed on without any verification, and Pres. Trump and his negotiators cannot lose sight of this fact, going forward.
In short, America can look for North Korea to continue trying to separate South Korea from its alliance with the U.S. and eventually absorbing South Korea under Pyongyang’s hardcore communist rule, while North Korea will also continue to produce and test more nuclear missiles of multiple range capabilities and warheads. And, despite vague statements from North Korean state media and optimism from South Korea’s leaders, there is little hard evidence that North Korea is truly interested in abandoning its nuclear weapons program for security, economic and political concessions.
The reunification of the two Korea’s would hold even more significant regional and global geopolitical ramifications, that would heavily bear on U.S. vital national security interests, already on National Security Advisor John Bolton’s radar and contingency plans. The U.S. would most certainly be asked to withdraw from Korea, which would coincide with China and their current efforts aimed at expelling the U.S. from the Pacific Theater, as such movements are also ongoing in both the Philippines and Okinawa. The withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Korea would be a strategic grand slam for China, an emerging and expanding totalitarian nation that views America’s presence in the Pacific as an impediment to their long-term agenda to become a regional, and then global, hegemon.
These are interesting and dangerous times, and the only good solution to this entire mess is actual regime change in North Korea or the reunification of a non-nuclear Korea under South Korea’s auspices, guidance and democratic republic form of government. Whatever President Trump and his team of negotiators do, Trump must hold the line and protect America’s vital security interests first and foremost, wherever those interests are found, and he must be prepared to walk away from any deal that does not have North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons program in a matter of months. This is the time for strong, clear, no-nonsense meaning in America’s message to all parties concerned, as the world holds its breath, watches and waits.
By Justin O. Smith
Edited by John R. Houk
Text embraced by brackets and all source links by J.O. Smith and the Editor.
© Justin O. Smith