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Get Ready for North Korea's Next Summit Showdown

January 22, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

North Korean spymaster Kim Yong-chol came to town and a summit
announcement resulted. The White House tweeted that President
Donald Trump “looks forward to a second summit with Chairman
Kim.” The meeting is supposed to occur before the end of
February. Vietnam has been suggested as a possible location.

Cynicism about the planned summit is rife in Washington. The
first meeting last June resulted in dramatic images but little
denuclearization. Neoconservatives are frustrated that the
president has yet to send in the bombers. Leftish critics who a
year ago complained that he was about to start a war now insist
that he has been played by the North’s Kim Jong-un. However,
denuclearization should not be seen as the upcoming summit’s
principal, if not only, objective.

No one in Washington
other than the president appears to believe there is much chance
that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea intends to disarm,
but the show must go on.

Despite Trump’s apparent confidence in North Korea’s
supreme leader, no one in Washington other than the president
appears to believe there is much chance that the Democratic
People’s Republic of Korea intends to disarm. That is one
reason for why Pyongyang desired another summit. If an agreement is
possible, the DPRK believes, then it is through the president, not
the secretary of state and certainly not the national security
adviser. Last week a North Korean diplomat complained to me about
the current diplomatic impasse but expressed hope that “if
the summit occurs it will contribute to breaking the
stalemate.”

In fact, it should surprise no one if Kim proves unwilling to
yield weapons so costly to develop, as well as the capability to
construct them. Nukes offer international status that much larger
nations lack. The weapons also reinforce the regime’s
domestic meme of protecting its people from foreign enemies, while
rewarding the military for its loyalty. Most important, as my North
Korean interlocutor argued, the weapons are “the last option
for simple deterrence.” Well-deserved skepticism of the
DPRK’s claims notwithstanding, Washington’s
overwhelming conventional military strength combined with its
penchant for regime change make nuclear weapons the only effective
guarantee for any government on Uncle Sam’s naughty list.

However, denuclearization should be seen as a means to an end:
peace and security. That is why the Republic of Korea has so avidly
embraced what appears to be a new course under Kim. One could end
the threat of North Korean aggression by reducing willingness as
well as capabilities. In this sense reconciliation, if
genuine—a major condition, of course—is an existential
issue for the South. South Koreans could sleep more comfortably if
convinced that the North, though still …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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