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Author: Subject: KOREA, North and South
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[*] posted on 20-4-2018 at 01:10 PM


By the way, you get rid of the Little Dickhead by giving him a billion or three! He'll undoubtedly retire to Switzerland, as he has happy memories from there, having been educated there when a teenager.
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[*] posted on 20-4-2018 at 01:16 PM


5 lessons Trump can take from the Iran deal for the North Korea summit

By: Lori Esposito Murray   8 hours ago


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, inspects a Hwasong-12 ballistic missile at an undisclosed location on May 14, 2017. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via Getty Images)

With U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement that CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un to prepare for a summit meeting went “very smoothly,” demands for a strategy for the direct talks become even more pressing.

While the Iran nuclear deal contains technical constraints and verification provisions that provide important groundwork for a North Korea deal, there are five lessons from the deal’s shortcomings that should serve as the main pillars for developing President Trump’s strategy.

1) The leverage from sanctions is strongest now and difficult to rebuild. Go for a permanent deal. The Iran deal was the first major arms control deal of its kind, where tough, multilateral sanctions provided the leverage for the deal, and their removal was a central part of the agreement. At the heart of the concerns about the Iran deal is that it is not permanent. The sanctions were removed, but several of the most important provisions blocking the pathways to their nuclear weapons development expire within a decade or so. It took years to build a global consensus for Iranian sanctions. It would take a long time to rebuild that pressure after the constraints expire, longer than it would take for the Iranians to rebuild their program.

The same would be true for North Korea. Among the approaches that are being publicly debated is that the administration should take a phased approach ― first seek to achieve a freeze and then pursue follow-on negotiations to achieve denuclearization. This would be a grave mistake. A phased approach will only kick the crisis down the road, as the consensus to maintain sanctions diminishes after a freeze.

The U.S. has the economic leverage now and should remain steadfast on demanding a permanent deal that requires North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons program and return to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The U.S. removed its nuclear weapons from South Korea in the 1990s. South Korea and North Korea’s other regional neighbors are permanently bound by the nonproliferation treaty. North Korea is the outlier in the region.

2) Include verifiable constraints on ballistic missiles. The last-minute rush to include ballistic missiles in the Iran talks led to an ambiguous solution. Ballistic missile constraints were not included in the deal itself, but rather were addressed in a weak provision in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 endorsing the deal, which only “called upon” Iran to not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons. In diplomatic parlance, that is not a clear prohibition and one the Iranians have not felt obligated to abide by. The result has been the erosion of trust in the overall deal.

The threat of the North Korean ballistic missile program includes the significant threats the missiles present to our allies in the region and to our homeland. Ballistic missiles are also a central part of North Korea’s destabilizing black market proliferation, from which it derives important economic benefits. Given the rapid advancement of the North Korea ballistic missile program, these missiles need to be constrained quantitatively and qualitatively, and the proliferation of missiles and missile parts need to be halted by carefully considered, verifiable provisions.

3) Get congressional approval. As the past couple of years have underscored, domestic support is essential for the U.S. to be able to fulfill its obligations under the Iran deal. A nuclear deal with North Korea will need to have domestic support, and that can only be successfully achieved with congressional approval.

The Iran deal was concluded as an executive agreement that did not require the approval of Congress. Although a compromise was eventually reached to consider a resolution of disapproval, the spadework was not done to build and ensure domestic support for the agreement.

President Trump will basically have two options for congressional approval: Submit the deal as a treaty to the Senate for advice and consent, or follow President Richard Nixon’s model of submitting the interim agreement of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks Tready (SALT I) as an executive agreement that requires an up-or-down majority vote in both houses of Congress. While the former is preferable on constitutional grounds, the latter is at least a better option than circumventing Congress and leaving the domestic support unattended and vulnerable to erosion.

4) Let China provide the carrots. The U.S. is better at sticks. As the struggle with waiving sanctions in the Iran deal demonstrates, the U.S. is better at putting sanctions on an authoritarian regime than it is at taking them off and providing economic benefits. This will be equally as difficult, if not more so, with the Kim regime, which has one of the worst human rights records globally and whose economy is built on black markets. While the U.S. will have certain responsibilities to enforce the terms of a deal if negotiated, the responsibility for the longer-term incentives should shift to China. It has a lot to offer: security guarantees, by strengthening its 1961 mutual assistance agreement; more investment in North Korean industry and infrastructure; membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; and integration into its “One Belt, One Road” initiative, among others.

5) Get the support of our allies. A significant achievement of the Iran deal is that it was negotiated by a coalition of partners ― the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia, Germany and China.

Nonetheless, its main shortcoming is that it did not have the support of regional allies ― most importantly, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The lack of regional support, dramatically demonstrated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress against the deal, has contributed to the erosion of America’s commitment to the deal.

A North Korea deal will ultimately fail without the support of our regional allies ― most importantly, South Korea and Japan. If our regional partners do not feel secure, there are many ways the agreement could be undermined, including, perhaps, most importantly, with the dangerous conclusion that their security is at risk under the agreement and that they need to develop their own nuclear weapons.

Lori Esposito Murray is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
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[*] posted on 20-4-2018 at 01:16 PM


I'm almost certain the South has zero interest in unification, just a peace settlement of some sort that takes away the nukes and all the artillery pointing at Seoul.

I also have to wonder what sort of impact unification would have economically (and socially). The costs would be huge, but it would be an industrial bonanza, and the South Koreans have been one of the few modern industrialised countries around who are still prepared to pay big for long term economic development rather than short term boosts in the books.




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[*] posted on 7-5-2018 at 12:29 PM


US, China in talks over THAAD withdrawal

Posted : 2018-05-04 16:59
Updated : 2018-05-05 10:32

By Na Jeong-ju, Yi Whan-woo

The U.S. and China are discussing a possible withdrawal of a U.S. missile defense system from South Korea as part of a grand bargain over North Korea's nuclear program, multiple sources familiar with the talks said.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, deployed in South Korea last year, has been a bone of contention with China. China has doubted U.S. claims that the system has the sole purpose of destroying missiles from North Korea, insisting its covert mission is to spy on Chinese airspace.

"Withdrawing the THAAD system from South Korea is part of a peace roadmap being discussed between Washington and Beijing after denuclearizing North Korea," a source told The Korea Times. "Washington knows well that it is impossible to seek deals with the North without cooperation from China. And China wants the U.S. to get rid of the THAAD system from South Korea."

Another source said the THAAD system in South Korea is among China's bargaining chips in seeking resolution of the North Korea nuclear problem.

"China has a priority list in negotiating with the U.S. On top of the list is removing the THAAD system from South Korea," the source said. "The next priority is to make the U.S. withdraw its troops from South Korea, but it knows this is an unrealistic demand that the U.S. can never accept."

The source said the U.S. instead may suggest reducing the number of its troops stationed in South Korea to satisfy China.

Chung Eui-yong, head of South Korean President Moon Jae-in's security team who is currently visiting Washington, is expected to discuss these issues with U.S. officials, the source said. Cheong Wa Dae, however, denied the existence of any of these negotiations between the U.S. and China.

On Thursday, the New York Times reported U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been disgruntled with cost-sharing for the upkeep of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), ordered the Pentagon to consider scaling down the size of the force.

However, both the Pentagon and Cheong Wa Dae denied the report.

As the U.S. is gearing up for the planned summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over denuclearizing the North, China, for its part, is taking steps to strengthen coordination with the North.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Kim in Pyongyang, Thursday, apparently as a special envoy of President Xi Jinping.

President Moon said after a historic summit with Kim at the truce village of Panmunjeom last week that he expects the U.S. and North Korea, along with South Korea, to be able to declare an end to the Korean War after the Trump-Kim meeting. If this is done, the next step is to sign a peace treaty among the two Koreas, the U.S. and China.

"China is an important part of a peace roadmap on the Korean Peninsula after denuclearization. However, this is not possible if the North renegade on its denuclearization commitment," a Moon aide said.

Meanwhile, Moon Chung-in, a special adviser to President Moon Jae-in on security and foreign affairs, took back his claim early this week that the U.S. would pull out its troops if a peace treaty is signed to formally end the Korean War.

In his contributed article published by U.S. magazine Foreign Affairs, Monday, he wrote, "What will happen to U.S. forces in South Korea if a peace treaty is signed? It will be difficult to justify their continuing presence in South Korea after its adoption."

However, Moon said this article was misunderstood, saying he supports the USFK presence in South Korea.

"I am someone who is for (the USFK's stationing)," Moon, who is visiting the U.S., told reporters in Washington, D.C., Thursday. "I think the USFK's continued presence is desirable for the strategic stability of Northeast Asia and our own domestic political stability, even after a peace treaty is signed."

North Korean leader Kim reportedly did not ask for withdrawal of the 23,500 U.S. troops stationed in the South as a pre-condition for a possible treaty.

Sources say this irked China which views the USFK as a big obstacle to its challenge against U.S. dominance in East Asia.

Moon Chung-in, citing former U.S. diplomat Henry Kissinger, said the issues on whether to keep the USFK must be raised "naturally" if the Korean Peninsula is denuclearized, a peace treaty is signed and U.S.-North Korea relations are normalized.

"He also said the U.S. will still keep its military in the South if Seoul wants to do so and added internal consensus will be critical," Moon said.
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[*] posted on 7-5-2018 at 01:03 PM


Yeah, it'll happen after the North get's rid of it's missiles and nukes, which means THAAD will be there for decades to come.

Yes I am a cynic and believe that the North wants to drag this out as much as possible to extort whatever concessions they can.

I don't believe that the Kim family will ever give up their nukes as they see that as the only thing preventing someone else enacting regime change.




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[*] posted on 24-5-2018 at 04:49 PM


‘North Korea Is A Cyber Super Power:’ Former ROK Commander

By Colin Clark

on May 23, 2018 at 12:28 AM



HONOLULU: More than 3.5 million Americans and South Koreans could be casualties should North Korea attack Camp Humphrey, the huge American military base.

The camp, thought to be the most likely target for a North Korean nuclear weapon should war occur, is south of the South Korean capital, Seoul, but if Kim Jong Un used the most powerful nuclear weapon likely in his possession, RAND expert Bruce Bennett estimates 715,000 South Koreans and Americans would die in the blast. To add some perspective to his analysis, Bennett estimated causalities from a two-kilogram biological weapon — up to 85,000. deaths — and up to 110,000 deaths from a one-ton chemical weapon. Yes, up to 85,000 deaths from two little kilograms of a biological agent.

There was much more grim news on the same day that President Trump appeared to prepare the world for delay or cancellation of the planned June 12 summit with Kim. Reviewing the challenges of war against North Korea — whom he described as the equals of the Israelis as innovators — a former senior South Korean commander characterized North Korea as a “cyber superpower.” Just to make sure everyone of the roughly 1,400 people here at the Lanpac conference put on by the Association of the US Army, got his point, retired Lt. Gen. In-Bum Chun, said: “I repeat– North Korea is a cyber power.”

He also noted that just about all North Korean armored vehicles carry MANPAD missiles so he thinks it unlikely helicopters would be able to fly against Kim’s forces except at night. Apache helicopters are, of course, a key tool against armored vehicles.



Bennett, the RAND expert, added that South Korea also faces a very serious national security problem as its population ages. As that happens, the South will no longer be able to field an active Army of more than 300,000, which he estimates is not enough to “convince China to withdraw” from the peninsula in the event of war. He said reserves could help, but South Korean reservists train a paltry three days a year so that’s not much of an option right now.

Add to all this an even more fundamental obstacle to military success against Kim: the North Korean people. “The biggest problem I see is the North Korean people,” retired Lt. Gen. In-Bum told the conference. The country is beset and bound by a network of surveillance “that would put East Germans to shame.”

But there is some hope in all this. The general thinks information operations are “the way ahead,” saying the US and South Korea are not putting enough emphasis on this: “We have the greatest ideas on earth — of democracy and freedom.” He didn’t say it, but, after all, East Germany split open, the Soviet Union fell and hundreds of millions of humans no longer live in totalitarian nightmares.
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[*] posted on 25-5-2018 at 06:58 PM


North Korea destroys test tunnels at Punggye-ri nuclear test site

Gabriel Dominguez, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

24 May 2018

North Korea destroyed several tunnels and other facilities at its only known nuclear test site on 24 May in a move described by the government in Pyongyang as an “important process” towards achieving global nuclear disarmament.

The dismantling of the northeastern Punggye-ri test ground, where North Korea has conducted all six of its nuclear tests, consisted in a series of explosions carried out over several hours, according to a small group of foreign journalists who were invited to the country to witness the event.

Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) was quoted by South Korean media as saying that the demolition was conducted “in such a way as to make all the tunnels of the test ground collapse … and completely close the tunnel entrances”.

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[*] posted on 26-5-2018 at 12:41 PM


Update: North Korea destroys tunnels at Punggye-ri nuclear test site

Gabriel Dominguez, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

25 May 2018


North Korea demolished tunnels and other facilities at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site on 24 May. Source: News1-Dong-A Ilbo via Getty Images

North Korea destroyed several tunnels and other facilities at its only known nuclear test site on 24 May in a move described by the government in Pyongyang as an “important process” towards achieving global nuclear disarmament.

The dismantling of the northeastern Punggye-ri test ground, where North Korea has conducted all six of its nuclear tests, consisted of a series of explosions carried out over several hours, according to a small group of foreign journalists who were invited to the country to witness the event.

Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported the demolition was conducted “in such a way as to make all the tunnels of the test ground collapse … and completely close the tunnel entrances”. At the same time “guard facilities and observation posts” at the site were also destroyed, it added.

“The tunnels and all kinds of equipment, information communications and power systems, and construction and operation equipment that had been installed at the observation centre, control centre, and research institute in the northern nuclear test ground were dismantled and withdrawn,” said the state-run KCNA, adding that there was no leakage of radioactive materials during the process.

Pyongyang also emphasised that local and foreign journalists could initially see two tunnels that were “ready for use” in nuclear tests at any time, apparently in an attempt to dismiss speculation that the demolition might be meaningless on the basis that previous nuclear tests there had rendered the site useless.

“The discontinuance of the nuclear test is an important process moving towards global nuclear disarmament, and we will continue to join hands with the world peace-loving people in building a nuclear-free peaceful world,” added the media outlet.

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[*] posted on 30-5-2018 at 04:57 PM


North Korea Wants to End up Like Pakistan, Not Libya

By Dominic Tierney
The Atlantic

May 29, 2018


Mohammad Ali/AP

A poor country made enormous sacrifices to get nuclear weapons—and has them still.

When Donald Trump canceled his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un—before hinting that it might happen anyway after all, as the South Koreans moved into damage-control mode on Saturday with an impromptu summit of their own—it followed days of discussion over a historical parallel: Libya. U.S. National-Security Adviser John Bolton said the basis for a deal with North Korea was the “Libya model” from 2003 to 2004, when Muammar Qaddafi essentially handed over his entire nuclear program to the United States. For North Korea, however, this allusion to Libya looked “awfully sinister” because, in 2011, less than a decade after Libya appeased the West, the United States and its allies joined with local rebels to topple Qaddafi’s regime.

For Pyongyang, Libya is not the only warning from history about the perils of disarmament. In 2003, Iraq claimed to have abandoned its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and even allowed inspectors back into the country, but nevertheless endured a U.S. invasion and regime change. In 2015, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, but in 2018 Trump tore up the deal.

So are there any models of “rogue” regimes with nuclear programs that might appeal to North Korea? The answer is yes. But, unfortunately, it’s a state that kept its nuclear deterrent intact: Pakistan. If Pyongyang is weighing up two possible futures—Libya vs. Pakistan—it’s not much of a choice.

Pakistan began to seriously pursue nuclear weapons in the 1970s, motivated by a desire to deter its more powerful rival India, as well as match India’s nuclear capability. The Pakistani politician Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who later became prime minister, claimed, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves—even go hungry—but we will get one of our own.” In 1998, on a clear and bright day in the Chagai district, Pakistan carried out a series of nuclear tests. Pakistan’s chief scientific officer said “All praise be to Allah” and pushed the button, causing the mountain to shake in a vast explosion.

In 2016, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists estimated that Pakistan had 130 to 140 warheads and predicted that it would nearly double its arsenal by 2025. Islamabad could deliver nuclear weapons by medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, F-16 fighters, and tactical systems for short-range use on the battlefield.

We can be confident that North Korea is paying close attention to Islamabad’s experience. After all, the two countries share important similarities. They both face an enduring rivalry with a far more powerful democratic state that used to be part of the same country (India and South Korea). Furthermore, both North Korea and Pakistan have, at times, flouted international norms.

In 2003, North Korea withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Pakistan never signed the treaty. For decades, North Korea and Pakistan have been informal allies, trading conventional weapons and supporting Iran in the Iran-Iraq War.

Another reason that Pyongyang is certain to consider the Pakistan model is that the two states have cooperated on nuclear development. In 2006, the Congressional Research Service reported that Pyongyang gave missile technology to Islamabad, and Pakistan transferred nuclear technology to North Korea, through the network of the Pakistani nuclear engineer Abdul Qadeer Khan. During the 1990s, when North Korea suffered a famine that killed perhaps 500,000 people, and North Koreans literally ate grass and leaves, Pyongyang continued to prioritize military development and received key data from Pakistan on uranium enrichment. Pakistan is even suspected of having carried out a nuclear test for North Korea.

From North Korea’s perspective, the Pakistan model must look compelling. First of all, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons have successfully deterred India. The 1960s and 1970s were a time of humiliating military defeats for Pakistan, including the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, when Pakistan lost 56,000 square miles of territory, which became the new state of Bangladesh. Nuclear weapons have essentially removed the possibility of a large-scale Indian invasion. In 1987, President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq told his Indian counterpart, “If your forces cross our borders by an inch, we are going to annihilate your cities.” In 1999, Pakistani troops crossed into Indian-controlled Kashmir, triggering the Kargil Crisis and military hostilities. Crucially, India avoided escalation, kept the war limited, and declined to enter Pakistani territory. One study concluded “the principal source of Indian restraint was Pakistan’s overt possession of a nuclear arsenal.”

In addition, Pakistan’s nuclear capability led the West to handle the country with kid gloves. The United States provided millions of dollars of material assistance to guard Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile, including helicopters and nuclear detection equipment. Pakistan’s nuclear capability is also one reason why Washington continued to provide billions of dollars in military and economic aid, even though Islamabad supported the Taliban insurgency that battled U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan gained prestige as the only Muslim-majority country with nuclear weapons. The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the nuclear program as “Pakistan’s finest hour.” The nuclear program is also domestically popular. The nuclear tests in 1998 that shook mountains led to jubilant street celebrations.

Of course, all of this came at a cost. The money poured into Pakistan’s nuclear program could have been spent on health or education. The nuclear tests in 1998 were condemned around the world. After refusing to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Pakistan faces restrictions on importing civilian nuclear technology. Nuclear weapons may deter India, but they also risk accidents and even escalation to nuclear war.

But for North Korea, the balance sheet still favors the Pakistan model: a poor country that ate grass to build a nuclear deterrent, seeks to be accepted as a recognized nuclear power, supports denuclearization in principle but only as part of a broader international disarmament effort (that will likely never happen), successfully deters a more powerful rival, and gains domestic prestige and international status.

Saddam and Qaddafi made their choices, and they’re both dead. North Korea wants to follow a different path. Why not become the Pakistan of East Asia?
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[*] posted on 5-6-2018 at 11:45 AM


Japan and South Korea at odds over tactics for North Korea denuclearization

By: Mike Yeo   8 hours ago


In this image provided on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, by the North Korean government, what the North Korean government calls the Hwasong-15, a "significantly more" powerful, nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile, is launched in North Korea on Wednesday, Nov. 29. The defense ministers of Japan and South Korea have articulated contrasting positions at a regional security conference on North Korea’s potential denuclearisation. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

SINGAPORE — The defense ministers of Japan and South Korea have articulated contrasting positions at a regional security conference on North Korea’s potential denuclearisation ahead of the planned summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Speaking in Singapore at the annual Shangri-la Dialogue organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera cautioned against rewarding North Korea for merely agreeing to a dialogue, emphasising that it must take concrete action to denuclearise and disarm first.

This would require the North to not only end all nuclear programs, but also the development of ballistic missiles “of all flight ranges,” which would include short range ballistic missiles capable of hitting Japan.

Onodera cited historical precedents in his speech, reminding the audience that North Korea promised to abandon its nuclear weapons and its existing nuclear program in the 2005 Six-Party talks, but went ahead with its first nuclear test in 2006 and halted its ballistic missile launches only last year.

“We’ve seen history repeat when North Korea would declare to denuclearize, thereby portraying itself as conciliatory and forthcoming, only to turn around and avoid all international efforts towards peace”, he added.

Perhaps understandably, South Korean Defense Minister Song Young Moo adopted a softer line than his Japanese counterpart during his speech, noting that the recent round of diplomacy is a rare opportunity for success with Kim repeatedly stating his intent to “achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

He added during the question-and-answer session that North Korea’s history of duplicity should not be used to play down the hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough, saying that “just because we have been tricked by North Korea before does not guarantee we will be tricked in the future.”

Song did however also state that there must be complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of the North’s nuclear weapons and program “and it must be enforced,” although he believed that Kim will accept such a move.

The disagreement on the approach in dealing with North Korea could potentially affect the scheduled June 12 summit between President Trump and Kim to be held in Singapore, and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis held a trilateral meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts on Sunday morning where he told them that both countries needed to maintain a strong defensive stance so they can negotiate with North Korea from a position of strength.

During his speech at Saturday’s plenary sessions, Mattis had stated that any discussion about the number of U.S. troops in South Korea is between it and the host country, and separate and distinct from the negotiations with the North, scotching suggestions that the U.S. would reduce or withdraw its military footprint on the Korean Peninsula should there be diplomatic progress with the North.

Mattis also said that any economic relief for North Korea will “receive relief only when it demonstrates verifiable and irreversible steps to denuclearization.” Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Onodera added that they also reached an agreement to work together to persuade North Korea to denuclearize, although he did not provide further details.
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[*] posted on 5-6-2018 at 12:08 PM


Schumer, Senate Dems have a Korea summit checklist for Trump

By: Joe Gould   8 hours ago


Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer is leading Senate Democrats in demanding that any agreement President Donald Trump makes to ease sanctions on North Korea be contingent on complete denuclearization and destruction of test sites. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Democrats are demanding that any agreement President Donald Trump makes to ease sanctions on North Korea be contingent on complete denuclearization and destruction of test sites.

In a letter to Trump, seven senior Senate Democrats outlined the conditions of their caucus’s support for any deal that results from Trump’s planned summit next month with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez, D-N.J., also held a press call Monday.

“Now that the meeting will proceed as planned, [we] want to make sure the president’s desire for a deal with North Korea doesn’t leave the United States, Japan and South Korea with a bad deal,” Schumer told reporters.

While Schumer expressed hope for peace and a successful summit, he warned Trump “has to be willing to walk away from the table if there isn’t a good deal to be had.”

The letter presented five conditions for North Korea:

- Dismantle and remove all of its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
- End the production and enrichment of uranium and plutonium for military purposes, and permanently dismantle its nuclear weapons infrastructure. This includes destroying all test sites, nuclear weapons research and development facilities and enrichment facilities.
- Suspend all ballistic missile tests and disable, dismantle and eliminate all of its ballistic missiles and programs.
- Commit to robust compliance inspections including a verification regime for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs—and chemical and biological weapons. The regimes must include “anywhere, anytime” inspections and snap-back sanctions if North Korea is not in full compliance.
- Agree that any deal must be permanent.

The letter was signed by Schumer, Menendez, Assistant Senate Minority Leader Dick Durbin, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Vice Chair Mark Warner, Senate National Security Working Group Co-Chair Dianne Feinstein, Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chair Patrick Leahy and Senate Banking Committee ranking member Sherrod Brown.

Though the presence of 28,000 U.S. troops in South Korea isn’t addressed in the letter, Schumer and Menendez said they might one day favor a withdrawal — at some point after North Korea meets all conditions, and working with America’s regional allies.

“To pull troops out at the beginning before anything else is done would be a very big mistake and the wrong signal,” Schumer said. “You have to see what the agreement is and how things are progressing. Removing troops early on would be a terrible signal to our allies and a terrible signal to North Korea itself.”

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Sunday told reporters en route to Washington, D.C., from the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference, that the 28,000 U.S. troops in South Korea are, “not going anywhere.” Though the topic could be up for review in five to ten years, he said, “It’s not even a subject of the [denuclearization] discussions.”

Trump, too, told reporters last month the troops would not be bargaining chip, “at this moment,” adding that he would “at some point in the future, I’d like to save the money,” associated with the arrangement in place since the 1953 Korean War armistice.

Over the weekend, Trump confirmed plans are moving forward for the summit with Kim on June 12 in Singapore. It’s the first between heads of the technically still-warring nations and meant to begin the process of ending North Korea’s nuclear program; Trump said he believes Kim is committed to that goal.

The president said it was likely that more than a single meeting would be necessary to bring about his goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. He said, “I think you’re going to have a very positive result in the end, not from one meeting.”

“I don’t even want to use the term ‘maximum pressure’ anymore,” Trump added, referencing his preferred term for the punishing U.S. economic sanctions imposed on North Korea in response to its nuclear and ballistic missile tests. But he said he would not remove current sanctions until the North took steps to denuclearize.

At the Shangri-La Dialogue, Mattis warned it will be a “bumpy road” to the nuclear negotiations with North Korea later this month. He told South Korean and Japanese counterparts they must maintain a strong defensive stance so the diplomats can negotiate from a position of strength.

Mattis repeated the U.S. position that North Korea will only receive relief from U.N. national security sanctions only when it demonstrates “verifiable and irreversible steps” to denuclearization.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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[*] posted on 13-6-2018 at 09:13 AM


North Korea commits to working towards ‘complete denuclearisation’

Gabriel Dominguez, London and Alison Evans, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

12 June 2018


North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) with US President Donald Trump (R) during their historic summit on 12 June in Singapore.

Source: Kevin Lim/The Strait Times/Handout/Getty Images
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his commitment to “working towards [the] complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula” in a joint statement signed with US President Donald Trump during a landmark summit between the two heads of state on 12 June on Singapore’s Sentosa Island.

“President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” said the four-point statement.

Washington and Pyongyang also committed to establishing “new” bilateral relations “in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity” and to join efforts to build “a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula”.

The two governments announced their commitment to recovering the remains of prisoners of war and missing-in-action personnel from the 1950–53 Korean War, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified. The statement fell short of the US demand for “complete, verifiable, and irreversible” dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear programme, and included few other specific, actionable items.

However, the two leaders agreed to implement the statement’s stipulations “fully and expeditiously”.

“The United States and the DPRK commit to hold follow-on negotiations led by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the US–DPRK summit,” it added.

Moreover, President Trump was quoted by several media outlets as saying during a press briefing that he would suspend US military “war games” with South Korea while negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang progress, adding that continuing the joint military exercises at this time would be “provocative” and “very expensive”.

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[*] posted on 13-6-2018 at 02:20 PM


Trump Got Nearly Nothing From Kim Jong Un

By Uri Friedman
The Atlantic

June 12, 2018


AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Maybe this is the beginning of something big. But it started off small.

On Tuesday, in Singapore, Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un shook hands, strode along colonnades, dined on stuffed cucumber and beef short rib confit, and signed a joint statement. But if this was, as Trump declared afterward, “a very important event in world history,” the president has little of substance to show for it beyond chummier relations with Kim—for the moment, at least.

In the joint statement, North Korea did not commit to the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of its nuclear-weapons program—a longstanding demand of the Trump administration. Instead, Kim merely reaffirmed what he had already agreed to during his April summit with South Korean President Moon Jae In: to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” North Korea, in other words, committed not to denuclearization but to the goal of denuclearization. And even here, the aim is the “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” For years now, the North has employed this protean phrase in an aspirational way to refer to a scenario in which it gives up its nuclear weapons in exchange for the United States: a) no longer protecting South Korea with the American nuclear arsenal and b) potentially ending the U.S.-South Korea military alliance and all dimensions of America’s “hostile” policy toward North Korea.

Kim and Trump specified no timetable for denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.

The most tangible results in the 403-word joint statement were that North Korea agreed to engage in follow-up nuclear talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top U.S. officials “at the earliest possible date,” and to recover and repatriate the remains of U.S. soldiers who died during the Korean War.

In a press conference after the summit, Trump offered contradictory messages about what exactly he had just achieved. He modestly defined success in Singapore as developing “a relationship” with Kim, characterized the meeting as “the beginning of an arduous process,” and stated that Kim had taken only “the first bold step toward a bright new future for his people.” At the same time, he described the joint statement as “very comprehensive” and argued that “I don’t think you can be any more plain” in terms of the language on denuclearization. He said U.S. officials had worked on the substance of the joint statement for months and that the document was “far down the line.” Asked why the document contained no details on how the denuclearization process will work, Trump responded, “Because there was no time. I’m here one day.”

Trump maintained that while he had indeed consented to something the North Koreans have long sought—a meeting between their leader and the American president—he didn’t view this as a concession and thought it was as beneficial to the United States as it was for North Korea. The United States hasn’t given up anything of value to North Korea, he argued, while “they have given up a tremendous amount.” He noted that in addition to North Korea committing to “complete denuclearization” and recovering the remains of American soldiers, he had secured a verbal promise from Kim Jong Un after the signing ceremony in Singapore to shutter a missile-engine testing site. He also listed a number of notable—if limited and in some cases provisional—gestures of goodwill that North Korea made ahead of the summit: halting missile and nuclear tests, releasing three American hostages, closing a nuclear-test site.

But Trump then proceeded to, rhetorically at least, make one concession after another to North Korea. He said that U.S. sanctions on North Korea would “come off when we are sure that the nukes are no longer a factor,” but then chipped away at that firm stance by adding that “I actually look forward to taking them off” and that it was “OK” that China had recently eased up on sanctions enforcement at its border with North Korea. In announcing that the United States and South Korea would suspend their joint military exercises as long as negotiations progress, he adopted North Korea’s longstanding position that these “war games” are “very provocative” rather than legitimate defensive measures. “I know a lot about airplanes. It’s very expensive,” he said of the drills, which can involve bombers based in Guam. Trump also hinted that he might eventually fulfill the North’s longtime objective of booting U.S. forces from Korea. “At some point,” he noted, “I want to bring our soldiers back home.”

Trump acknowledged that he didn’t dwell on North Korea’s human-rights abuses during the summit, though he claimed to have raised the issue. (Human rights are “rough in a lot of places, by the way, not just there,” he said.) He entertained plans to invite Kim Jong Un to the White House and travel to Pyongyang at the “appropriate time.” (It’s “a little bit early” to discuss normalizing diplomatic relations, he added.) And he remarked admiringly that Kim was clearly “very talented,” since he took over North Korea in his 20s and ran it “tough.” (Kim operates a sprawling network of political prison camps and is believed to have executed political opponents with anti-aircraft machine guns and chemical weapons.)

Trump also moved away from National-Security Adviser John Bolton’s vision of rapid denuclearization and toward North Korea’s view of denuclearization as a lengthy process, noting that “scientifically, I’ve been watching and reading a lot about this, and it does take a long time to pull off complete denuclearization.” Nevertheless, he asserted that “we will do it as fast as it can mechanically and physically be done.” Of course, this could be interpreted less as a concession to North Korea than as a concession to the reality of the North’s elaborate nuclear infrastructure; Siegfried Hecker, a leading expert on North Korea’s nuclear program, recently estimated that disarming the country could take 10 to 15 years.

Trump didn’t cite much concrete evidence for why he feels these nuclear negotiations with North Korea will produce a different outcome than the last 25 years of inconclusive talks—that the North is really prepared this time to relinquish the nuclear arsenal that it has spent decades building as a security blanket, at tremendous cost. “My whole life has been deals, I’ve done great at it,” Trump noted, and his instincts within seconds of meeting Kim were that “I think he wants to make a deal.”

There were, however, fleeting moments of self-doubt. “Can you ensure anything? Can I ensure that you’re going to be able to sit down properly when you sit down?” Trump asked one reporter who had stood up to ask him a question about Kim’s commitment to denuclearization. “I think he’ll do it—I really believe that. … I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey I was wrong.’ I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.”

And Trump was particularly sober in reflecting on what might be his greatest accomplishment in Singapore: averting a military conflict that he himself had once threatened and launching a diplomatic process that still has the potential to yield a settlement to the North Korean nuclear crisis. In seeking a transformation of U.S.-North Korea relations, which will require years to forge and more than a brief statement to formalize, Trump may be starting something of great consequence, even if it doesn’t look that way now. “If I can save millions of lives by coming here, sitting down, and establishing a relationship with someone who’s a very powerful man, who’s got firm control of a country, and that country has very powerful nuclear weapons, it’s my honor to do it,” Trump said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to make the world a safer place.”
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[*] posted on 13-6-2018 at 02:23 PM


A Summit Short on Details, Yet Better Than War

By Tom Z. Collina

June 12, 2018


AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The good news is that the Trump administration already has plans to continue the talks.

Given where we were a few months ago, and the erratic nature of the men involved, the Singapore summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un was a win for us all. They managed to avoid war, at least for now, and move the diplomatic process forward. Was it short on details? Yes. Was it a useful first step?

Yes, indeed.

Both leaders, impulsive and bombastic, arrived in Singapore largely isolated. Trump came fresh from dissing his colleagues at the Group of Seven meeting in Canada. Kim arrived on an airplane owned by China and built in the United States because his planes are less comfortable and less reliable.

The leaders also arrived with the summit’s major issues unresolved. One day before they met, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters on Monday, “There are only two people that can make decisions of this magnitude, and those two people are going to be sitting in a room together.” Trump more or less declared that he was winging it, but promised that he would know “within the first minute” whether Kim was serious about giving up his nuclear weapons.

Could Trump and Kim go from “Rocket Man” and the “Dotard,” from “fire and fury” and my nuclear button “is a much bigger and powerful one,” to partners in peace within a matter of months? For now, it seems so.

We will not know for month or years if this process will result in the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. This is the start of a process, not the end. As President Trump said at a post-summit press conference, “If you don’t get the ball over the goal line, it doesn’t mean enough.”

In the 397-word agreement he signed with Kim — a “very, very comprehensive document,” the U.S. president called it — Trump committed to provide undefined security guarantees to the DPRK, and Kim reaffirmed his “firm and unwavering” commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The agreement consisted of four main points:

- The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
- The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
- Reaffirming the April 27, 2018, Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
- The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

This agreement raises more questions than it answers. There are no timelines; Trump said post-summit that denuclearization “takes a long time.” He also said that U.S. economic sanctions would not be lifted until significant progress had been made on nuclear disarmament.

Asked what the military implications would be if the North did not keep its commitments, Trump replied, “I don’t want to be threatening.” He noted that Seoul has 28 million people, is right next to the border with the North, and that war could cost the lives of 20 million to 30 million people.

“Today is the beginning of an arduous process. Our eyes are wide open. But peace is always worth the effort,” he said.

At his news conference, Trump said the United States would stop “the war games,” or U.S.-South Korea military exercises, adding that they were expensive and “very provocative.” Trump will likely get criticized for taking this step without a firm commitment from the North in exchange. Yet Pyongyang has already suspended its nuclear and missile tests, and closed its nuclear test site. Moreover, the Clinton administration suspended the military exercises in the early 1990s as a way to encourage progress toward the 1994 agreement to halt the North’s plutonium production. It worked.

The good news is that the Trump administration already has plans to continue the talks. President Trump said Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton will meet with North Korean officials next week to start fleshing out the thin summit communique.

The president will no doubt come home to criticism that he did not get the “complete, verified, irreversible denuclearization” that he and his staff promised before the summit. Nor did John Bolton get an invitation to gather up the North’s nukes by the end of the year. But we did get the continuation of a diplomatic process, which is ultimately the only way this crisis will be solved.

Chairman Kim and President Trump began an important, essential process today. Worth a Nobel Peace Prize? Not yet. But we should all do what we can to make sure that process succeeds. As the latter said after the summit, “Yesterday’s conflict does not have to be tomorrow’s war.”
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[*] posted on 13-6-2018 at 02:28 PM


While Trump Met Kim, A Smuggling Ship Sailed Right Past Singapore

By Patrick Tucker
Technology Editor

10:26 AM ET


MARINE TRAFFIC.COM / SERGEI SKRIABin

Ship trackers say the initial Trump-Kim deal is unlikely to deter sanctions violators.

As President Donald Trump prepared to sit down with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on Tuesday, a known sanctions-violating smuggling ship was loitering nearby off the coast of Singapore.

The Jia Feng, a Togolese-flagged, 25,000-ton bulk carrier known for smuggling coal out of North Korea, passed by Singapore on its way to Malaysia, according to a North Korea-watchdog firm.

The vessel’s recent location broadcasts had been intermittent, which is a possible indicator that the ship had stopped in North Korea, said Leo Byrne, data and analytic director at NKPro, an information site run by the private firm Korea Risk Group. Most recently, the ship was moored along the east coast of Sumatra, northwest of Singapore.

According to the March report by the UN’s Panel of Experts, or POE, the Jia Feng made port at Namp’o, North Korea, in January 2017, and then carried illicit coal to Malaysia in March. The ship made an additional coal run to Vietnam last June, turning off its automated indicator sharing capability, or AIS, to conceal its activities.

“Despite the PoE’s investigations, the Togolese-flagged bulk carrier has so far avoided both UN and U.S. sanctions, while the Malaysian Government declined to comment on its continuing visits to the southeast Asian nation,” Byrne said.

The U.S. campaign to apply economic pressure on North Korea may have helped bring the regime to the bargaining table, but did little to deter it from attempting to evade sanctions.

“The agreement today made no mention of sanctions relief, so I don’t see North Korea suddenly abandoning its long-established sanctions evasion practices,” Byrne said.

During a press conference after the Tuesday signing, Trump praised China for helping stop smuggling through North Korea’s borders but also seemed to dismiss concerns over recent back-sliding on the issue. One pillar of the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign is to get China to restrict oil shipments to North Korea. During his remarks, Trump thanked China’s President Xi Jingping, “a very special person… who has really closed up that border; maybe a little bit less so in the last couple of months, but that’s OK.” He added, “Over the last two months, I think the border is more open than it was when we first started. But that is what it is.”

Trump said “sanctions remain,” and would continue until denuclearization is achieved: “I look forward to taking them off.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier in the week that the U.S. would increase the sanctions if North Korea continued to build its nuclear arsenal.

The U.S. also has sanctioned Russian vessels for smuggling oil into North Korea. At the end of May, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov invited Kim to visit President Vladimir Putin. The Putin regime wants to build a pipeline through North Korea to South Korea. North Korea and Russia already have plans to build a bridge on the Tumen River that borders the two countries.

Byrne has noted possible overland oil smuggling along that border. In June, he observed what looked like the movement of oil by train between the two countries. In May, a cargo train near North Korea’s Tumangang station, which houses nearly 15 large oil tanks, suddenly went missing, according to satellite images. “The presence of a cargo train in the May 9 imagery and its subsequent disappearance in the May 10 imagery is indicative of activity and the flow of goods,” notes Byrne.

Since his initial press conference after the summit, Trump has indicated in subsequent media interviews that more details of the agreement will come. For now, as the president said, sanctions remain in place. What remains unknown is whether the talks will affect the pursuit of North Korean sanctions violators.
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[*] posted on 13-6-2018 at 02:36 PM


North Korea lauds, and basks in, Kim's summit performance

By ERIC TALMADGE 54 mins ago

The series of photos on the front page of the ruling workers' party newspaper showed something North Koreans never would have imagined just months ago — their leader Kim Jong Un warmly shaking hands with President Donald Trump.

The priority treatment of what even Pyongyang is calling the "historic" meeting between Kim and Trump in Singapore underscores just how much of a propaganda coup the North saw in Tuesday's unprecedented summit.

Dubbing it the start of a new relationship between their countries, which are still technically at war, Pyongyang's first reports Wednesday stressed to the North Korean people that Trump agreed at Kim's demand to halt joint military exercises with South Korea as long as talks toward easing tensions continue and suggested that Trump also said he would lift sanctions as negations progressed.

"President Trump appreciated that an atmosphere of peace and stability was created on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, although distressed with the extreme danger of armed clash only a few months ago, thanks to the proactive peace-loving measures taken by the respected Supreme Leader from the outset of this year," said a summary of the leaders' summit by the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency.

The summit capped a swift and astonishing turn of events that began on New Year's Day with a pledge by Kim to reach out to the world now that his nuclear forces have been completed. His focus on diplomacy, including earlier meetings with the leaders of China and South Korea, is a sharp contrast with his rapid-fire testing of long-range missiles and the fiery exchanges of threats and insults last year that created real fears of a war on the Korean Peninsula.

Kim has framed the switch as a natural next step now that he has what he stresses is a credible and viable nuclear arsenal capable of keeping the U.S. at bay. The framing that he went into the summit as an equal and from a position of strength is crucial within North Korea, after enduring years of tough sanctions while it pursued its nuclear ambitions.

Kim's vows to denuclearize were reported by state media Wednesday within that context — that Pyongyang would respond to easing of what it sees as the U.S. hostile policy against it with commensurate but gradual moves toward "the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

"Kim Jong Un and Trump had the shared recognition to the effect that it is important to abide by the principle of step-by-step and simultaneous action in achieving peace, stability and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," KCNA reported.

That doesn't seem to pin the North down to the concrete and unilateral measures Trump said he would demand going into the talks and it remains to be seen what significant changes could occur now that they seem to be moving toward more peaceful relations. Both sides promised to push the process forward quickly, and Trump and Kim exchanged invitations to each other to visit their nations' capitals.

Interestingly, the North made no secret of China's behind-the-scenes presence at the summit. A flurry of media coverage the day Kim arrived in Singapore showed him waving from the door of the specially chartered Air China flight that brought him from Pyongyang.

That is another key to what lies ahead.

Kim's biggest task in the months ahead will most likely be to try to push China, his country's key trading partner, to lift its sanctions and to entice South Korea to start once again offering crucial investment in joint ventures and infrastructure projects.

In the meantime, however, the North appears to be basking in it leader's new found status as the most popular kid on the block.

"Singapore, the country of the epoch-making meeting much awaited by the whole world, was awash with thousands of domestic and foreign journalists and a large crowd of masses to see this day's moment which will remain long in history," KCNA noted.
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[*] posted on 17-6-2018 at 02:50 PM
Seoul asks Pyongyang to move artillery


https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/seoul-asks...

Quote:
South Korea has proposed that North Korea move its long-range artillery away from the heavily fortified border in an effort to reduce tensions, government sources say. During last week's rare cross-border military talks, the first in more than a decade, Seoul made a series of suggestions, including relocating the artillery pieces to areas 30-to-40km away from the military demarcation line separating the two Koreas, the insiders said. The two sides held the talks to follow up on the Panmunjom Declaration from the April 27 inter-Korean summit at the truce village, which calls for joint efforts to alleviate military tensions and "practically eliminate the danger of war". "We conveyed our position to the North that in light of consultations between the North and the United States over the denuclearisation issue, we have to craft measures to drastically reduce military tensions by removing practical threats," a source said on condition of anonymity. Seoul's defence ministry later denied that it proposed the movement of the North's artillery farther north. According to a 2016 South Korean defence white paper, the North has 14,100 artillery pieces, including 5500 multiple rocket launchers, a majority of which have been deployed near the border and can easily target Seoul. During Thursday's talks, the two Koreas agreed to completely restore their western and eastern military communication lines.




Repent!

The darkest hour of Humanity is upon us. The world
shall meet it's end and we shall be submerged into a
new dark age. Repent your sins, for the apocalypse,
and the end, is extremely f@#king nigh!
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[*] posted on 17-6-2018 at 07:01 PM


China's private concerns about Trump-Kim

Beijing may look like the summit winner but worries over the budding friendship

Richard McGregor

June 14, 2018 14:00 JST

In the scoring of Donald Trump's summit in Singapore with Kim Jong Un, the commentariat has generally declared China to be the winner, even though president Xi Jinping was not even at the talks.

But this may be too simple a conclusion. The budding Trump-Kim rapprochement may yet give Beijing something to worry about.

The consensus view is that U.S. gave up a lot and got little in return. North Korea, gave up little and may have gained a lot, with the likely easing of sanctions and a relaxation in the U.S. military posture.

China, however, got just about everything it wanted, or so the pundits say -- a U.S. agreement to dial down tensions; a North Korea which will (for the moment) be less belligerent; and an agreement which effectively mirrored the plan for the peninsula it has been pushing for the last year.

Beijing's "freeze-for-freeze" proposal required Pyongyang to place its nuclear program in mothballs, while the U.S., with South Korea, pledged to put on hold its regular military exercises.

The brief Trump-Kim pact does exactly that, although any commitments that Pyongyang has made will have to be taken at their word for the moment, since there is no independent means yet to verify them.

Even better from the Chinese perspective, Kim continues to send signals that Pyongyang might finally be willing to open up its economy, something that Beijing has been urging on its neighbor for decades.

All that is true as far as it goes, but such analysis leaves out an important point. Beijing might have come out on top in Singapore, but going into the summit, it also had serious concerns about what might transpire there.

Those worries, although they have been alleviated in the short-term, remain.

Beijing's key concern has always been that any dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea might do more than just ease tensions on the peninsula. Just as Washington has always worried about Japan and China getting on too well, Beijing frets about North Korea getting too close to the U.S.

It is true, as so many have pointed out that, that Trump gave away a lot up front in his commit with Kim while getting little in return.

But such an approach could conceivably make sense if it is part of a longer term game, one in which Washington and North Korea leverage their relationship to keep China at bay.

The U.S. is already the security guarantor for South Korea. Why could it not play a similar role for the North? That is certainly an idea that would worry China.

Obviously, the two situations are not analogous. Washington helps protect the South against the North, not directly against China. Securing the North against Beijing would be a much bigger military challenge.

Most scenarios for a "grand bargain" on the peninsula, the kind of deal that is comprehensive but precludes reunification, contemplate a drawdown for the 25,000-odd U.S. troops still stationed in South Korea.

Trump himself has always made it clear that he would like to withdraw U.S. troops, perhaps even preceding any deal between all of the region's big players.

For Trump, the U.S. troops are an enduring symbol of his conviction that the U.S. gets a raw deal in Asia, in which Washington pays to protect its allies, while getting done over by them on trade at the same time.

This is music to China's ears. But for North Korea, the presence of the U.S. could be a useful counterbalance to Chinese dominance.

Beijing and Pyongyang used to boast in official propaganda that they were as close "as lips and teeth." It is not a phrase that you hear very often these days, for good reason.

Kim's madman antics over the last year, threatening nuclear war and the like, were never aimed just as the U.S. or South Korea and Japan. Students of the long-running drama on the Korean peninsula have long known that Pyongyang is just as happy to keep Beijing off balance.

Kim Il Sung, who established the Kim Dynasty in the north after the Pacific War and the end of Japanese colonial rule over the peninsula, always played the Soviet Union and China off against each other.

In the early 1990s, North Korea's xenophobic siege mentality, a feature of the regime since its birth, was accentuated by Beijing's decision to establish diplomatic ties with Seoul. China's willingness to push ahead with its own market reforms also grated on its determinedly Stalinist neighbor. The Kims never bought it.

Kim Jong Un might now be ready to embrace limited economic reform but he still worries about being overly dominated by the Chinese.

China retains huge economic leverage over North Korea, something Beijing demonstrated toward the end of last year, when they joined international sanctions and slowed the provision of essential commodities, like oil, in an effort to reign their errant neighbor in.

If Kim is to liberalize his economy, and even take tentative steps to wind down his nuclear arsenal, he will also need to diversify his friends. South Korea is important. Even Japan, a whipping boy for all Koreans, could be invited in.

Why not the Americans as well? If Kim wants to wean himself off China, then Washington might be his best friend of all. Now that's an idea that would scare president Xi. Perhaps he should have insisted on a seat at the table in Singapore after all.

Richard McGregor is a senior fellow for East Asia at the Lowy Institute in Sydney.
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