Category Archives: Koreas

North Korea: Breaking geopolitical deadlock

Current international policy vectors toward North Korea have largely failed to curtail North Korea’s WMD programs and change its policies.  As Pyongyang prepares for a possible sixth nuclear test, it’s clear a new approach is called for.

This year North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and multiple missiles tests, and staged a rare Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) congress signalling the ‘official start to Kim Jong-un’s era’, with no changes in its political course. Pyongyang has withstood the latest round of international sanctions, a spate of defections by North Korean elites, and deepening international diplomatic isolation.

Beyond ‘Strategic Patience’

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According to the Independent Task Force on North Korea organised by the Council on Foreign Relations, ‘it is not enough to maintain the status quo on the peninsula or wait for circumstances to evolve in a favorable way’. Its main recommendation is to ‘elevate the [North Korean] issue to the top of the US-China bilateral relationship’. This sounds inviting but it would be costly. Indeed, much to Washington’s displeasure, this policy would likely reflect Chinese terms, with the US forced to return to the negotiating table with North Korea.

North Korea: Breaking geopolitical deadlock

Preparations needed to prevent Chinese intervention in North Korea – UPI.com

South Korea should be prepared for a multinational intervention in the event of “sudden changes” on the Korean peninsula, and be ready to prevent Chinese military deployment, an analyst said on Tuesday.

Hong Hyun-ik, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute, a South Korean think tank, said it would be an “urgent” priority for Seoul to block Chinese interference in the case of a political crisis in North Korea, Yonhap reported.

South Korea must make sure North Korea’s territory falls under Seoul’s jurisdiction before another power makes the claim, Hong said.

Preparations needed to prevent Chinese intervention in North Korea – UPI.com

The coming clash with China over North Korea – The Washington Post

Chinese officials at the conference warned that the proposed Clinton policy carries a risk of sparking a war on the Korean peninsula, and they expressed the suspicion that the unstated U.S. motivation was to spur regime change in Pyongyang.

The Clinton team has a plan to allay Chinese fears about regime change. Her advisers intend to push for a new dialogue with Beijing to discuss what would happen if the sanctions inadvertently cause the regime to collapse or if the regime implodes on its own due to mounting internal tensions.

The coming clash with China over North Korea – The Washington Post

Pyongyang may launch a missile before U.S. election-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

North Korea is preparing to launch another intermediate range ballistic missile ahead of the U.S. presidential election, said a Korean military official Wednesday.

According to the official, movements by the loading transporter erector launcher (TEL) were detected in North Korea, which appear to be in preparation to launch another Musudan missile.

Pyongyang has a history of staging military provocations in time with political events. Speculations are high that the North will likely launch another missile in two to three days, as a probe into the so-called Choi-gate scandal, in which President Park Geun-hye’s longtime friend, Choi Soon-sil, is alleged to have meddled in administrative decisions and embezzled funds from two nonprofit foundations, is ongoing in the South, while the U.S expects its presidential election next week.

Pyongyang may launch a missile before U.S. election-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily

Clinton vowed to ‘ring’ China with missiles over North Korea threat, leaked emails say

Hillary Clinton threatened to “ring” China with defensive missiles if Beijing did not rein in North Korea, leaked emails detailing a private speech she made three years ago claim.

The US democratic presidential candidate also blamed the Chinese military for being Pyongyang’s biggest ally, according to the hacked emails, which were revealed by Wikileaks.

The former secretary of state’s comments reflect ongoing frustrations in Washington that China has been failing to use its influence as North Korea’s biggest trading partner and ally to encourage the regime to cease its nuclear weapons programme.

Clinton vowed to ‘ring’ China with missiles over North Korea threat, leaked emails say

China, Russia criticise US deployment of missile defence system in South Korea over North Korea’s nukes, – The Straits Times

Washington was using the North’s actions as a pretext to gain military superiority over China, Chinese general Cai Jun told defence officials at a briefing on the forum’s sidelines.

Deploying the system in South Korea, he said, was “not conducive to the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula”, he said, adding, “it has increased the risk of military conflict in the region”.

Beijing fears that THAAD could be used against its own missiles, effectively undermining its nuclear deterrence capabilities against the US.

China, Russia criticise US deployment of missile defence system in South Korea over North Korea’s nukes, – The Straits Times

US think tank warns North Korea could develop up to 100 nuclear weapons by 2020

A US-based think tank has estimated that given the pace of North Korea’s nuclear programme, Pyongyang could have enough fissile material to develop up to 100 nuclear weapons by 2020. The organisation has warned ahead of the US presidential elections that the new administration would face major challenges from the East Asian country, highlighting the need to review its policy on Pyongyang.

In its latest report, Rand Corporation – an American nonprofit global policy think tank – said that Japan and South Korea are “losing faith in the US nuclear umbrella”. The think tank warned that it was upset as Washington failed to constrain North Korea’s nuclear programme, which has led to the two US allies to call for “independent nuclear arsenals”.

US think tank warns North Korea could possess up to 100 nuclear weapons by 2020

North and South Korea openly trade threats of pre-emptive strikes

Since North Korea’s latest nuclear test, Pyongyang and Seoul have been openly trading threats of decapitation strikes and annihilating capitals populated by millions of civilians. And the talk of how each side might throw that first pre-emptive punch has become more detailed than ever.

Seoul and Pyongyang are making a point of claiming they are justified, and capable, of striking hard if an attack by the other appears imminent: North Korea with its rapidly developing nuclear arsenal, Seoul with conventional missile attacks and commando operations explicitly aimed at killing Kim Jong Un and his top commanders.

North and South Korea openly trade threats of pre-emptive strikes

Warning: The Korean Peninsula is Falling into Disequilibrium | 38 North

Today, the fundamental balance of power that has endured on the peninsula since World War II seems to be wobbling. The region’s strategic geopolitics is under great stress from China’s meteoric rise compared to the relative decline of American, Russian and Japanese leverage over the peninsula. Add to that situation the massive conventional arsenals in both Koreas, which enable these rivals to engage in high-intensity warfare. However, the most crucial source of disequilibrium within the traditional balance stems not from the historical “great power competition,” but from North Korea’s domestic development of an asymmetrical strategic nuclear capability. North Korea’s strategic nuclear and missile programs, coupled with its provocative testing, present a clear and present danger to peace and stability in Northeast Asia, and are the primary reasons why the Korean peninsula is falling into disequilibrium.

Warning: The Korean Peninsula is Falling into Disequilibrium | 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea

Russian Nuclear Weapons Policy Increasingly Resembles That of North Korea | The Jamestown Foundation

Moscow reacted harshly to North Korea’s most recent nuclear test. “Such explicit disregard for the norms of international law and the opinion of the international community merits the strongest possible condemnation,” the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared in a statement (Mid.ru, September 9). The irony, however, is that the nuclear weapons policy of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un increasingly resembles the nuclear policy of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. By illegally annexing Crimea from Ukraine and unleashing the “secret” war in Donbas, in 2014, Moscow entered into a military confrontation with the West. Meanwhile, North Korea is also confronting “American imperialism.” However, neither the Russian Federation nor the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK—North Korea) have sufficient resources for such a confrontation. Indeed, Russia lacks the military and economic potential of the Soviet Union. Moreover, unlike the Soviet Union, Russia today has no real allies; the current demographic situation does not allow the formation of a five-million-strong Armed Forces; and Russian industry is no longer capable of mass producing conventional weapons.

Russian Nuclear Weapons Policy Increasingly Resembles That of North Korea | The Jamestown Foundation