Australian news, and some related international items

Time for a new approach on the North Korean nuclear crisis?

Some Analysts Say Time May Be Right For A Rethink On North Korean Nuclear Crisis, NPR, September 17, 2017, ANTHONY KUHN

North Korea test-launched another missile Friday that arced over northern Japan and into the Pacific, showing its progress toward being able to strike the U.S. and signaling its defiance of U.N. sanctions imposed after its sixth, and most recent, nuclear testearlier this month.

“The world will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the U.N., after the sanctions passed the Security Council on Monday. She added: “If the North Korean regime does not halt its nuclear program, we will act to stop it ourselves.”

But some analysts believe that this approach to the North Korean nuclear crises is dangerously deluded.

A decade or so ago, it still may have been possible to use sanctions or the threat of military force to compel North Korea to give up its nuclear programs, argues Zhao Chu, an independent, Shanghai-based analyst, former soldier and former editor of World Outlook, a foreign affairs magazine.

But Zhao warns that the situation has now fundamentally changed, and that trying to fly through a window of opportunity that has already closed is a very bad idea. Pyongyang can hardly be expected to give up the nuclear ace in the hole that it worked so long to acquire.

Then again, perhaps the window of opportunity for military action was never open, argues Lyle Goldstein, an associate professor in the Strategic Research Department at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. This is because the South Korean capital, “Seoul was always so vulnerable” to North Korean conventional artillery attacks, which could cause mass casualties.

Analysts say North Korea looked at the fate of other authoritarian regimes, particularly Libya under Moammar Gadhafi and Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and concluded that their lack of nuclear weapons left them vulnerable to being toppled by the U.S. and its allies.

Pyongyang now believes — correctly or not — that, by acquiring the ability to carry out a nuclear strike against the U.S., it has taken a crucial step toward assuring its own survival.

“You could credit the Kim regime with taking regime change off the table,” says the U.S. Naval War College’s Goldstein.

Another way of looking at it is that North Korea has now gained a valuable bargaining chip. And while it is unlikely to give it away for nothing, it may be willing to trade it for some sort of security guarantee, or some form of payment, whether in food or energy.

A grimmer possibility, of course, is that it might just sell it to raise much-needed cash.

Here, Goldstein sees an opportunity to strike a bargain with North Korea to resolve the crisis. He says that years of using all sticks and no carrots have not yielded the required results, and it’s time for some creative thinking.

Goldstein rejects the idea that the only way to improve North Korea is through regime change. “There are plenty of obnoxious regimes around the world,” he says, “and more than a few are allies of the United States.”…..

“I think we should take a pragmatic attitude and tolerate a nuclear North Korea,” Zhao concludes. “Why did the U.S. and China tolerate India and Pakistan going nuclear? Because they had no better options.”

All that’s left to do, Zhao says, is to try to prevent North Korea from proliferating nuclear technology, help it to avoid nuclear accidents, and set up unofficial dialogues to get scholars, if not officials, discussing possible solutions.

Indeed, China’s government realizes that North Korea’s nuclear disarmament is no longer an option in the near term, Zhao argues. It has therefore signaled in its public statements that for now, its top priority is to prevent the outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula, or as the government puts it, to prevent “chaos on our doorstep.”


September 18, 2017 - Posted by | General News

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