As Kim Jong Un speaks on the world stage, whether at the United Nations or to the global media we should be careful not to misread his intentions. The North Korean leader said he will give President Trump until the end of the year to complete a deal or else, or else what? Well, as Kim Jong Un puts it; “We may be left with no other choice but to consider a new way to safeguard our sovereignty and interests,” which appears to mean potentially restarting their long-range ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs as a deterrent.
No one ever said international diplomacy would be easy, it’s not. Lifting sanctions now without proof of a denuclearized North Korean would be fruitless as most of the scholars at the The Foundation For Defense Of Democracies, experts on Russian foreign policy agree. If North Korea’s history is any predictor of future behavior, that would be hard to debate. So, here we are again.
You see, there seems to be an obvious pattern of behavior spanning 45-years and several regimes in North Korea. It goes something like this; denuclearization talks, negotiations, then promises, and then treaties- that all end the same way, as stated by The Council on Foreign Relations. In the past the free world releases economic sanctions, gives humanitarian aid, stops talk of military intervention in trade for promises to denuclearize – then every time without exception North Korea goes back on all of its promises and cancels its agreements, and the game of diplomacy starts over again to no avail, according to the latest research on sanctions.
At some point each U.S. President eventually makes the ‘North Korean problem’ one of their administration’s priorities, while North Korea is happy to accept the bribes of economic, energy and humanitarian gifts, and enjoy the status and attention on the world stage. Then the regime waits out that Presidential Administration’s term only to start again – testing nuclear weapons, firing missiles, enriching uranium and all the behavior one would expect of a rogue regime.
Were The Recent Missile Launches in North Korea a Provocation?
While it is universally believed that every nation has the right to defend itself against attack, it’s often hard to tell where defense systems end and offensive weapon systems begin. Whereas, Kim Jong Un has promised President Trump not to launch anymore long-range ballistic missiles, or test any nuclear weapons, the recent firing of several short-range ballistic missiles makes allies and diplomats nervous.
Russia met with Kim Jong Un and the day after Putin departed North Korea launched a series of short-range ballistic guided missiles into the ocean landing between Japan and North Korea, The Washington Post reported. The launches also came just days before President Trump visited Japan.
So, the question is why?
In the past, North Korean leaders have tested missiles to get everyone’s attention in hopes of speeding up negotiations, having sanctions lifted, or getting a large shipment of oil and aid. An almost identical thing happened during George W. Bush’s Administration in March of 2006.
This time there may be more to the story as the United States has delivered South Korea a THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense system – something that China and Russia are not too happy with.
In Kim Jong Un’s speech, he also said “We” as in both South and North Korea; “must stop bringing in strategic assets and war-related equipment from outside powers.” This point also emphasizes Kim Jong Un’s angst towards US-South Korean wargames practicing mock attacks and military coordination which would be ready in the event of another war on the Korean Peninsula.
Consider if you will these three events; Putin meeting, South Korea’s missile defense system and Kim Jong Un’s insistence that he still wants to continue reunification talks with Moon of South Korea and talks with President Trump on lifting sanctions and denuclearization, as the New York Times reports.
One only has to listen to Kim Jong Un’s own words and speeches to realize that if we don’t continue keeping pressure on the North Korean regime, we end up back where we started some 45-years ago. How we proceed is of course up for debate and there are a lot of moving parts to the latest round of turbulence. However, nearly all experts on the matter agree on at least one thing. The on-going tensions in the region are nothing new as explained by Mark Dubowitz on the Weekly Standard.
The CFR, FDD, RAND, and other international relations think tanks have all but concluded that reducing or lifting sanctions now before verifiable denuclearization in North Korea won’t solve any problems. It will only lead us to repeat the diplomacy mistakes of the past.