Tuesday, December 05, 2017

#DPRK: Can We Talk?

North Korea's newest ICBM test was accompanied by what some observers called signals of a willingness to talk with the goal of ending the current crisis. Belligerent posturing on both sides has made it harder to divine the if, wheres, and hows of coming back to the table, but it must be done

“What took North Korea so long?” The Atlantic, 28 November It's highly unlikely that the DPRK's two-month silence was a diplomatic signal; the Kim regime has no interest in denuclearization under any circumstances. Historical patterns show the real reason for the pause between tests was most likely procedural. If they are willing to talk now, it's only because they've become confident in the development of their own capable nuclear deterrent as a balance against the US. If that's true, the second question is whether the US is will be willing to talk on new terms [Link]

“Let the record show: negotiations with North Korea work,”(Jim) Lobe Log, 29 November the Trump administration has deliberately ignored past diplomatic successes, instead continuing with veiled threats of military action which forced the Kim regime to dig their heels in even further. But in reality there are no military options. A new start must be made keeping in mind the successes of the Clinton Framework. The question is, can we really turn back the clock? [Link]

"William J Perry: diplomacy only viable option to deal with North Korean crisis," Asahi Shimbun, 29 November The former US Defense Secretary reveals Bill Clinton almost approved an offensive military plan against North Korea before deciding that the Framework was the best course of action. Today, North Korea's 20+ arsenal of nuclear weapons precludes any successful first strike by the US. Takeaway: the Trump administration's credibility has been erased by empty threats. [Link]

"Trump and Rational Accommodation," Gwynne Dyer syndicated column, 2 December Trump’s pattern of threats has been evolving. What started out as apocalyptic rhetoric is contradicted by the lack of specific details and deadlines, and "his tone continues to soften." Have The Generals finally gotten to him? [Link]

“There is no military option to take out North Korean nuclear program," The Hill, 3 December The current administration has limited itself to binary options, essentially tying its hands. While it is impossible to eliminate North Korea's nuclear arsenal without unacceptable consequences, there are still options that can be taken without threatening preemptive war. This includes evaluating options for addressing China's concerns [Link]

“How long can North Korea withstand international pressure?" The Hankyoreh, 4 December An editorial by a Chinese professor offers one possible signal from Beijing: that sanctions aren’t really working either, and are in fact reinforcing the legitimacy of the Kim regime in the eyes of North Koreans [Link]

"Have we got just three months to avert a US attack on North Korea?" The Guardian, 4 December a former speechwriter for Ban Ki-moon argues Beijing should take the initiative and call in the UN [Link]

"Madeleine Albright: how to protect the world from North Korea," New York Times, 4 December to date, the Clinton administrations agreed framework represents the best success that we've had in dealing with the Kim regime. Reliance on direct military threats, or pressuring Beijing, has simply not worked [Link]

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