Here is what a former nuclear negotiator with North Korea had to say recently about the Trump administration:
Robert Gallucci, a former U.S. special envoy to North Korea, speaks in the National Assembly, Monday. / Yonhap
Robert Gallucci, the chief negotiator during the 1994 North Korean nuclear crisis, called for dialogue with the North to make a breakthrough in the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, during his speech at Seoul’s National Assembly, Monday.
Gallucci, chairman of the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., reiterated the U.S. should negotiate with Pyongyang, if there’s room for improved circumstances through the negotiation.
“What we should not ask is a perfect deal. We should not ask how much does it cost,” Gallucci said in an event co-hosted by Reps. Kim Kyung-hyup and Lee Tae-kyu, members of the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee.
“We should rather ask are we better off with the deal,” the former special envoy noted, referring to his past experience of talking with his North Korean counterpart Kang Sok-ju in Geneva, Switzerland.
“In 1994, our intelligence community estimated North Korea was capable to produce 200 kilograms of plutonium a year. However, when President George Bush came into office in 2001, North Korea had zero nuclear weapons,” he said. “Did the North cheat us? The answer is yes. However, the deal was still a good one.” [Korea Times]
That last paragraph is all everyone needs to see to understand the problem with past negotiations with North Korea. Gallucci is apparently more than happy to allow the North Koreans to cheat on a deal as long as there is a deal.
Here is what else he had to say:
Touching on the heightened tension sparked by the North’s Nov. 29 launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Gallucci pointed out that it is a crisis between the North and the entire international community.
“It is a crisis because if military activity were to begin in days, indeed just days, no one in this room could be surprised, or should be surprised. That I think is a fair definition of crisis,” he said. [Yonhap]
Who is assessing military action to happen within days except for people that don’t closely follow North Korea? The ICBM launch was a research and development activity like their other prior test launches. The US military has not launched any retaliatory strikes in response to these R&D activities and has instead focused on deterrence responses. If the Kim regime fires a missile that lands in or near US territory than we will definitely have a military crisis on our hands.
The Kim regime has clearly been firing missiles in areas that are no where near US territory in order to not provoke a crisis. Additionally the Kim regime has not shelled any islands, attacked ROK naval vessels, or murdered ROK servicemembers in quite sometime. It is clear the Kim regime does not want a military crisis and instead is focusing on R&D of their ballistic missile and nuclear capabilities.
Why they are developing their ICBMs and nuclear capability Gallucci believes is for deterrence:
“This North Korean capability raises a question about whether the U.S. will fulfill its alliance responsibilities to its allies,” he said. “It raises a question about whether the U.S. will put Washington D.C. and New York City at risk in order to prevent North Korea from blackmailing South Korea and to deter any attack on Seoul specifically.”
But he noted the military dominance of the South Korea-U.S. alliance, saying Pyongyang cannot hold Seoul “hostage” with its artillery or nuclear weapons unless it is “suicidal.” He also voiced skepticism about the existence of a “good” military option without any cost or risk.
“Its nuclear weapons are good for one thing only to deter an effort at changing their regime. That is plausible,” he said.
“But the North cannot plausibly blackmail, it cannot deter a military response to its adventurism, it cannot compel the ROK (Republic of Korea) or the U.S. to do anything, it cannot break our alliance,” he added. [Yonhap]
I think his remarks that North Korea is not developing nuclear weapons to blackmail the South is in direct response to ROK Drop favorite Joshua Stanton. Stanton of One Free Korea fame has long argued that the North’s nuclear program is less about deterrence and more about driving concessions out of the South to create a confederation of the two countries on Kim’s terms.
I support Stanton’s position because reunification is a driving force within the Cult of Kim. The Kim regime has long had deterrence through its conventional weapons that could destroy Seoul. Most other countries in the world would have faced regime change retaliation for the provocations the North Koreans have executed over the years. However, the Kim regime has faced little military retaliation because of the threat to Seoul.
Developing nuclear weapons allows the regime to threaten the US homeland for the first time. It is arguable the regime wants to create a negotiating environment where it hopes to separate the ROK from the US. This would explain why the North Koreans continuously bring up wanting to negotiate a peace treaty to end the Korean War. If a peace treaty is signed then why would US troops be needed in South Korea any more? The next goal for the Kim regime would be to co-opt the ROK into a confederation on North Korean terms.
Only time will tell who is right or who is wrong.