Former Nuclear Negotiator Wants More Talks With North Korea Though They Don’t Want Them

The architect behind the failed 1994 Agreed Framework, Robert Gallucci has joined the chorus to restart talks with North Korea though they have repeatedly said they don’t want to:

Robert Gallucci

Former U.S. nuclear negotiator Robert Gallucci said Monday that North Korea might not be interested in talks on its nuclear and missile programs until it secures an intercontinental ballistic missile capability that levels the playing field with the U.S.

“Maybe it’s true that the North has no interest at this moment in having the negotiations that involve its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles,” Gallucci said in a lecture at Seoul’s Yonsei University.

“Some suspect in the U.S that they don’t want to enter through negotiations with the U.S… until they have demonstrated an ICMB capability that makes the U.S. vulnerable to them… so that they have leveled the playing field,” he added. “That’s possible.”  [Yonhap]

You can read the rest at the link, but Gallucci in the article tries to blame the Trump administration for not restarting talks though he even states in the article the North Koreans are likely waiting to perfect their ICBM before wanting to pursue talks.

Non-Proliferation Expert Calls for Freeze Deal and Peace Treaty with North Korea

The drum beat continues for the Trump administration to sign a “freeze deal” with North Korea.  The latest academic to push this is non-proliferation expert Jeffrey Lewis:

If Washington wants to depart from this cycle, it is time to talk to the North Koreans—not about denuclearisation, but about other ways to calm fears and improve relations. The two antagonists, along with South Korea and Japan, need to find a way to reduce tension on the Korean Peninsula. This may include a freeze on the testing of both nuclear and conventional missiles in exchange for limits on US and South Korean military exercises. They also need to think about crisis communications, such as hotlines, and transparency measures related to military activities. And ultimately, they need to think about replacing the armistice, under which the US and North Korea remain at war, with a peace treaty. If all this sounds like a victory of North Korea’s campaign to develop thermonuclear weapons that can strike America, well, it is. China’s first nuclear test was in October 1964. By February 1972, Richard Nixon had famously gone to China. By 1979, the US had diplomatic relations with China and Deng Xiaoping had made a state visit to America. Nuclear weapons confer power and status, whether we like it or not.

If hosting Kim Jong-un, the dictator of a starving nation, for a sumptuous state dinner seems hard to accept, that is the triumphalism of 1991 clouding judgment. In the insecurity of 2017, Americans have to accept that they do not have the power to simply topple dictators who abuse human rights or threaten their neighbours. If one looks closely, it becomes clear that it was the illusion of omnipotence, born in a moment of triumph and sustained by desperate efforts to extend it, that brought us a nuclear-armed North Korea. Powell could not see the threats of the future because he was looking in the wrong place. The villains that beset America and the demons that led Washington astray, were never to be found in Cuba or North Korea. They were to be found at home, within America itself.  [Prospect Magazine]

You can read more at the link, but signing a peace treaty would mean the end of the US-ROK alliance because if there is “peace” then why does the US need troops in Korea?  This would play into the North Koreans strategy of separating the US from South Korea to set the stage for coopting South Korea with their nuclear weapons:

A lot is now being said here, in other words, which indicates the North has reason to fancy its prospects of decoupling the alliance and subjugating the rival state. But I can hardly fault Keck or any other American observer for not knowing things the foreign press corps in Seoul prefers not to write about.  (…….)

Should push come to shove, texts and tweets would be more likely to drive Seoulites to peace or pro-confederation demonstrations than to the flag-waving rallies of the security-minded. Hasn’t President Moon himself called on candlelighters to help prevent a war on the peninsula? Not to prevent or deter a North Korean attack, mind you, but to prevent a war, an exchange of fire.  [B.R. Myers]

Myers’ point above is the weakness of Mr. Lewis’ argument for North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.  Lewis focuses solely on North Korea pursuing nuclear weapons for regime survival when the regime has survived just fine with the threat of a massive artillery strike on Seoul.  The ultimate goal of the North’s nuclear weapons program is to co-opt the ROK into a confederation on North Korean terms.  A freeze deal followed by a peace treaty plays right into the Kim regime’s hands.

Arms Control Expert Says There Is No Military Solution to North Korean Nuclear Crisis

Here is the latest on what the expert class think of President Trump’s latest statements about negotiating with North Korea:

President Donald Trump said North Korea has been making “fools of U.S. negotiators” and “only one thing will work,” the latest hint of possible military action against the communist state.

The comments came amid fears that the North may test-fire another missile in connection with the anniversary Tuesday of the foundation of its ruling party.  (……)

“Trying to ‘out Kim Jong Un’ Kim Jong Un in the threat department is not a winning strategy,” said Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the U.S.-based Arms Control Association.

“It’s only making the problem worse and reinforces North Korea’s desire to advance its nuclear and missile development as rapidly as possible in order to strengthen deterrence against a possible U.S. attack,” he added.  (……)

Past efforts at negotiating an end to North Korea’s missile and nuclear development have had limited success in exchange for concessions from the West.

Washington and Pyongyang signed a deal known as the “agreed framework” in 1994 in which the North committed to freezing its plutonium weapons program in exchange for aid. But that agreement collapsed in 2002.

Subsequent six-party talks involving the two Koreas, China, Russia, the United States and Japan fell apart in 2009 after the North launched a rocket shortly after President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Reif pointed out talks have been effective in the past.

“A more effective strategy would be to marry continued pressure, deterrence and containment with pursuit of diplomatic off ramps,” he said. “There is no military solution to this growing problem.”  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but first of all President Trump’s makes comments are irrelevant to North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.  They were rapidly pursuing them during the Obama administration and they are rapidly pursuing them now.  It doesn’t matter who is in the White House the Kim regime has made this a national goal to become a nuclear weapons state regardless of who is in the White House.  The US could re-elect Jimmy Carter and Kim Jong-un would still be pursuing nuclear weapons.

As far as President Trump’s comments, it is clearly a negotiating strategy for those that pay attention.  Based off of Trump’s Art of the Deal style negotiations he wants the North Koreans to think he is about to launch a massive military strike on them.  This actually strengthens the State Departments negotiations attempts to find an off ramp.

Plus anyone that thinks there has been any success with negotiations with Kim Jong-un is fooling themselves.  Prior negotiations brought delays in the North Koreans nuclear program when Kim Jong-il was in power, but did not end it.   Can anyone name one success negotiations has brought the United States during Kim Jong-un’s time in power?  The Kim Jong-un regime has made it quite clear that they plan to become a fully developed nuclear weapons state.

However, as I stated before the off ramp is not going to be North Korea giving up their nuclear weapons program.  At best some sort of freeze deal could be worked out which is what the Russians, the Chinese and the academic class has been advocating for in recent months.

The Joshua Ramos Freeze Deal Strategy

Here is yet another example of a freeze deal being circulated around Washington, D.C.

My first question is what would the US give up to get North Korea to freeze their nuclear weapons for 26 months?  They are not going to freeze their nuclear weapons program out of the goodness of their hearts.  Additionally this does nothing to solve the ICBM issue which is actually more concerning than the nuclear program right now.  Their nuclear weapons cannot be used against the US homeland if they don’t have a reliable delivery system.

North Korean Foreign Minister: “Our Rockets’ Visit to the Entire U.S. Mainland all the More Inevitable.”

It is statements like this that continue to build the case to justify military action against North Korea.  For once it would make strategic sense for them to come off as rational actors to make the world think the Kim regime will responsibly manage their nuclear weapons, but old habits die hard:

North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho addresses the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on Saturday. [AP/YONHAP]

North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho threatened to take “merciless pre-emptive action” against the United States in case it shows any sign of military attack, calling U.S. President Donald Trump the “gravest threat” to international peace and security during an address to the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday in New York.

Speaking two days after raising the possibility of a hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Ocean, Ri showered derogatory language on Trump while addressing world leaders, suggesting it was “fair enough” for him to use a tone that corresponded to Trump’s earlier speech to the same global body.

“The absurd reality that someone like Trump, a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacency, who is chastised even by Americans as ‘Commander in Grief,’ ‘Lying King’ and ‘President Evil’ is holding the seat of the U.S. president, and the dangerous reality that the gambler who grew old using threats, fraud and all other schemes to acquire a patch of land holds the nuclear button – these constitute the gravest threat to the international peace and security today,” said Ri, according to English transcripts provided by the United Nations.

In his 22-minute speech, given in Korean, Ri mentioned “U.S.” 28 times and “Trump” five times, mostly to chastise Trump’s earlier threat to “totally destroy” North Korea and to rally support from other countries in contending that Pyongyang’s nuclear drive is a “righteous self-defensive measure” against Washington.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read the rest at the link.

North Korean Foreign Minister Threatens to Conduct Hydrogen Bomb Test Over the Pacific

Would such a test be pretext to launch a bombing strike, especially since they would have to fire over Japan to do this nuclear test?:

The United States began using the Marshall Islands as a nuclear testing site beginning in 1946.

Hours later, Kim’s foreign minister told reporters in New York that Pyongyang could launch a nuclear missile test in response. “This could probably mean the strongest hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean. Regarding which measures to take, I don’t really know since it is what Kim Jong Un does,” said Ri.  [CNN]

You can read more at the link.

Kim Jong-un Vows to Build Nuclear Weapons Program to Achieve “Equilibrium” with the U.S.

It looks like the North Koreans have no plans of freezing their nuclear program:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (2nd from R) laughs and claps during his guidance of a missile launch in Pyongyang in this photo, released by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency on Sept. 16, 2017. For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution. (Yonhap)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has pledged to complete the country’s nuclear program, saying that its final goal is to establish an “equilibrium” of military force with the U.S., its state media said Saturday.

Kim made the remark during his inspection of the launch of a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan a day earlier, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

North Korea on Friday fired a ballistic missile from Pyongyang that crossed over Japan. It flew around 3,700 kilometers while reaching a maximum altitude of some 770 km.

“We should clearly show the big power chauvinists how our state attain the goal of completing its nuclear force despite their limitless sanctions and blockade,” Kim was quoted as saying by the KCNA.

He underlined “the need to put an end to them with the all-state efforts as it has nearly reached the terminal,” he added.

It marked the second missile launch over Japan in less than a month. It also followed the wayward regime’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3.

“Our final goal is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the U.S. and make the U.S. rulers dare not talk about military option” for North Korea, Kim said.

Kim, in addition, called on the North’s scientists and technicians to “put rockets on a modern and ultra modern basis and develop the operation level onto a higher stage with their close combination” — remarks that some observers say hinted at the possibility of additional provocations from Pyongyang.

The photo of the launch, released by the North’s daily Rodong Sinmun, showed that the Hwasong-12 missile was fired from a road-mobile launcher — an indication of enhanced mobility. The North was seen using a fixed launchpad to fire the same missile in May and last month.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

President Moon Says No to Calls to Develop Nuclear Weapons

Here is President Moon’s response to those calling for either the deployment or development of tactical nukes in South Korea:

South Korean President Moon Jae-in ruled out the possibility of redeploying U.S. nuclear weapons in the country Thursday, CNN reported.

In an interview with the U.S. cable news channel, he warned it could lead to a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia.

“I do not agree that South Korea needs to develop our own nuclear weapons or relocate tactical nuclear weapons in the face of North Korea’s nuclear threat,” he was quoted by CNN as saying.

The interview was made ahead of his visit to New York next week to attend the U.N. General Assembly.

Moon said South Korea needs to develop military capabilities in the face of the North’s growing nuclear threat, while expressing objection to some conservatives’ call for Seoul’s own nuclear armament.

“To respond to North Korea by having our own nuclear weapons will not maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula and could lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia,” Moon said.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but this is what the academic circles are saying about introducing nuclear weapons to South Korea:

South Korea obtaining nuclear armament will not stop North Korea’s military provocations or deter its nuclear threats, experts on the North said Thursday.

They expect deploying tactical nuclear weapons will only give Pyongyang more reason to speed up its nuclear development.

“The call to reintroduce nuclear weapons reflects an understandable frustration,” Stephan Haggard, director of the Korea-Pacific Program at the University of California San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy, told The Korea Times.

“But it does very little to strengthen the deterrent. Moreover, reintroducing nuclear weapons would only provide further justification for North Korea to continue with its own nuclear program. This is simply a bad idea.”

Joseph DeTrani, a former U.S. special envoy to the six-party talks, also said he is not in favor of deploying tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea, citing the U.S.’s extended nuclear deterrence commitment to the South.

“The U.S. is committed to the defense of South Korea, and our nuclear umbrella for South Korea and Japan is a very important and credible element of our deterrence strategy,” he said.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.