Showing posts with label Korea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Korea. Show all posts

20 June 2019

Xi Jinping Is (Finally) Visiting North Korea

By Shannon Tiezzi

China’s President Xi Jinping will make his first state visit to North Korea this week, according to Chinese state media. Citing Hu Zhaoming, spokesperson for the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, Xinhua saidXi would be in North Korea from June 20 to 21, at the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Xi and Kim’s first meeting came in March 2018, a full five years after Xi assumed office, and over six years since Kim became North Korea’s “supreme leader.” Since that belated meeting, the two sides seemed to be making up for lost time — Xi and Kim have met four times in the past 15 months. Notably, however, Xi has not yet made a trip to North Korea, despite reportedly accepting Kim’s invitation to do so in 2018. The last time the top Chinese leader traveled to North Korea was in 2005, when then-President Hu Jintao made the trip.

In fact, Xi broke with longstanding Chinese diplomatic precedent by visiting South Korea first. Generally Chinese leaders stop in Pyongyang before Seoul, but Xi made a 2014 state visit to South Korea, then under President Park Geun-hye, without even setting foot in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. That was part of a warming trend in China-South Korea relations, while China-North Korea relations at the time seemed to be on ice.

Why North Korea Denuclearization Is Such a Long Shot


North Korea denuclearization efforts have been at the forefront of the international agenda for more than two years, but there is little progress so far. Critics say the Trump administration has a flawed approach to the negotiations—and the U.S. trade war with China isn't helping. Meanwhile, North Koreans continue to suffer.

Ending North Korea’s nuclearization efforts has been at the forefront of the international agenda for more than two years now. But despite improved relations between North and South Korea and two unprecedented face-to-face meetings between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, there has been no clear progress toward North Korea denuclearization.

Trump has framed the meetings and his personal relationship with Kim as a promising start to a potential breakthrough, but critics point to the lack of headway so far, which they blame on the Trump administration’s flawed approach to the negotiations. For his part, Kim refuses to even begin drawing down the program that is essentially his regime’s only bargaining chip unless the international community drops its sanctions. Hard-liners in Washington, on the other hand, would like to see meaningful steps toward denuclearization before they lift any restrictions.

12 June 2019

Adapting to a Nuclear North Korea Is Better than Swapping Away U.S. Regional Assets

by Robert E. Kelly

Once Washington's bases and influence are gone, it won't be easy to get back.

There are several possibilities of what, if any, concessions the United States might make to North Korea to achieve at least some denuclearization of that country. But since President Donald Trump began engaging North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un in negotiations early last year, U.S. offers have been consistently one-sided.

America has repeatedly demanded the North’s complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization CVID)—an extraordinary demand tantamount to unilateral disarmament. In exchange, the United States has offered vague future benefits; security guarantees, aid promises, modernization assistance, a peace treaty, diplomatic normalization and so on. This swap is lop-sided in that it expects a huge upfront concession from the North—CVID— in exchange for nothing immediately tangible. Worse, the history of U.S. behavior toward rogue states akin to North Korea, particularly toward Libya and Iran, suggests that Washington will not keep its promises.

The North will not take this trade, interpreting it as CVID for nothing. It would be great if Washington could get this, of course, but it will not happen.

8 June 2019

McMaster's Poison Pill Advice on North Korea

by Daniel R. DePetris 

H. R. McMaster has had an illustrious career. In his thirty-four years in the U.S. Army, he earned a reputation among his superiors for being an outside-the-box thinker and an aspiring officer. As a twenty-eight year-old Army tank captain in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment during the 1991 Gulf War, McMaster’s unit obliterated a much larger Iraqi Republican Guard force in the desert, destroying thirty tanks, twenty personnel carriers, and thirty trucks in a span of twenty-three minutes. He dazzled some of his fellow officers during his command of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tel Afar, Iraq, where he routed Al Qaeda militants from a city that was essentially run by the group.

We all know McMaster’s history—it screams “insider” and “national security expert.” Which is why the former national security adviser’s recent comments pertaining to North Korea on the Axios on HBO program are so head-scratching. Some would even call them crazy.

The first drive-in theater opens, in Camden, New Jersey, United States.

7 June 2019

North Korea’s Nuclear Bomb Is Much Bigger than Previously Thought

BY PATRICK TUCKER

Scientists looking anew at a 2017 North Korean nuclear test discovered that the explosion was likely about two-thirds more powerful than U.S. officials previously thought.

Earlier data put the yield somewhere between 30 and 300 kilotons; the U.S. intelligence community said 140 kilotons. That was already the most powerful device tested by North Korea, topping a 2016 test by about an order of magnitude. But a new look at seismological data suggests that the blast was between 148 and 328 kilotons, and probably around 250 kilotons.

That’s the conclusion from a group of researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz; the Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica; and elsewhere, as published Monday in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. The team combined sound-wave data recorded during the blast with information about North Korean nuclear tests since 2006 and plugged it all into models showing how sound would travel through various types of rock at an estimated depth of 430 to 710 meters.

30 May 2019

US Forces Korea Commander: US-South Korea Readiness Hasn’t ‘Slowed Down One Bit’

By Ankit Panda

Speaking last week in Hawaii, the top military officer in charge of U.S. military forces in South Korea said that recent adjustments to allied exercises had not adversely affected readiness for allied forces.

General Robert Abrams, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea and United Nations Command, said that the militaries of the United States and South Korea had conducted more than 100 exercises, adding that recent modifications to exercises were “prudent action in support of diplomacy.”

Earlier this year, Seoul and Washington announced that the usual springtime Foal Eagle-Key Resolve series of major military exercises would be cancelled and a new allied exercise, named Dong Maeng (Korean for “alliance”) would replace it.

“I want to be crystal clear about it: combined training and readiness haven’t slowed down one bit,” Abrams said. “We are continuing to conduct very rigorous combined training at echelon,” he added.

15 May 2019

250,000 Dead in Seoul: What North Korea's Artillery Could Do in a War

by David Axe 

North Korea on May 4, 2019 test-fired a short-range ballistic missile -- its first major launch in the 18 months since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un suspended missile testing ahead of a summit with U.S. president Donald Trump.

Pyongyang on May 9, 2019 launched a second “projectile,” South Korean officials said.

The May tests of at least one apparently nuclear-capable short-range missile startled foreign observers and threatened to elevate tensions between the United States and its allies South Korea and Japan on one side and, on the other side, North Korea and its main patron China.

On a single day eight people die during summit attempts on Mount Everest, now referred to as the 1996 Mount Everest Disaster.

A copy of the Diamond Sutra is printed in China, making it the oldest known dated printed book.

1 May 2019

In a Search for Options, North Korea Turns to Russia


With relations between the United States and North Korea still in disarray after an abrupt ending to their recent summit in Hanoi, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is reaching out to another partner: Russia. On April 25, Kim will hold his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But one key figure who won't be accompanying the North Korean leader to the meeting in Vladivostok is Kim Yong Chol, the country's longtime lead nuclear negotiator with the United States, amid rumors that he lost his post heading the United Front Department, a major party institution. Ultimately, Kim Yong Chol's absence suggests that Pyongyang could be changing up its negotiating team.

The Big Picture

15 April 2019

Kim Jong Un, his rise to power and his rule in North Korea. Find out

For nearly a quarter-century, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the North Korean regime's continued survival has baffled observers. When North Korea’s founding leader Kim Il Sung died, North Korea entered a period of famine that lasted three years and killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of North Korean citizens. Yet the regime carried on under his son, Kim Jong Il, and his grandson, Kim Jong Un, currently leads the country, making it the only communist regime to practice hereditary leadership succession—not once, but twice.

So how has the North Korean regime remained in power for more than 60 years under the unbroken leadership of three generations of the Kim family? To evaluate the future prospects of North Korea—be it gradual evolution, sudden transformation or collapse—it is critical to understand how the hereditary leadership system has developed historically, its current state and its future prospects. 

Baby Steps Toward Reform

18 March 2019

The Next Stage of the Korean Peace Process Why Seoul Remains Optimistic After Hanoi

By Chung-in Moon

When the U.S.–North Korean summit in Hanoi ended early, with no agreement whatsoever, many South Koreans were shocked. The disappointing conclusion shook the public’s faith in summit diplomacy and undermined Seoul’s efforts to foster parallel processes: for denuclearizing North Korea, building a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, and fostering inter-Korean economic cooperation. In short, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s strategy for bettering relations among Seoul, Washington, and Pyongyang after the summit was shattered.

The summit may have failed, but Seoul observed several encouraging signs. There was neither acrimony nor mutual recrimination at the summit, nor a sudden escalation of military tension in its wake. Considering Pyongyang’s past behavior, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s restraint was unusual. U.S. President Donald Trump’s response was also encouraging. He did not tweet anything inflammatory about Pyongyang in the summit’s wake. Nor did he suggest new sanctions or the renewal of U.S.–South Korean joint military exercises. On the contrary, he expressed his unwavering trust in Kim and his commitment to continuing the dialogue even though the summit didn’t end as he had hoped.

17 March 2019

Korea, the JCPOA, and the Shifting Military Balance in the Gulf

By Anthony H. Cordesman

The Burke Chair is issuing a new detailed analysis of the lessons from recent negotiations with Korea, their implications for U.S. policy in dealing with the JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran, and how Iran's other major military programs will affect the regional balance. This study is entitled Korea, the JCPOA, and the Shifting Military Balance in the Gulf, and is available on the CSIS web site at https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/190313_Korea_JCPOA_Lessons.pdf.

The analysis concludes that the sudden breakdown in the latest round of U.S.-Korean nuclear arms control talks in Vietnam should scarcely come as a surprise to anyone. Both sides sought too much too soon and did so despite a long history of previous failures. Heads of state engaged before their staffs had reached a clear compromise and did so seeking goals the other leader could not accept. It is not clear that an agreement was reachable at this point in time, but each side's search for its "best" ensured that the two sides could not compromise on the "good."

8 March 2019

What the Hanoi Summit Tells Us About North Korea’s Nuclear Intentions

By Christopher J. Watterson

The second U.S.-North Korea summit was a bust, with Kim and Trump leaving Hanoi without any mutual concessions or even a joint statement. In a post-mortem press conference Trump stated that the sticking point was sanctions: “Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that. They were willing to de-nuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that”. Importantly, according to Trump, North Korea was willing to denuclearize some ‘areas’ but not others of interest to the U.S.: “They wanted sanctions lifted but they weren’t willing to do [denucleazise] an area we wanted. They were willing to give us areas but not the ones we wanted. … he [Kim] wants to just do [denuclearize] areas that are less important than the areas that we want.”

The good, the bad, and the ugly at the US-North Korea summit in Hanoi

Jung H. Pak

The summit meeting between Kim and Trump ended early. And there was no joint statement, as widely anticipated. Thousands of bewildered journalists who had camped out to capture the spectacle packed up and left, and Kim’s motorcade left quickly, as members of his entourage scrambled to jump into moving cars. The media has been ablaze with speculations about what happened, as pundits weigh in with declarations that the summit was a failure or a success. It was neither. And it was both.

Kim was offering a bad deal and the president was right to reject it.

First, the good. Kim was offering a bad deal and the president was right to reject it. According to the North Korean foreign minister who held a rare press conference the day after, Pyongyang offered the permanent dismantlement of a portion of nuclear material production facilities at Yongbyon Nuclear Research facility in exchange for a “partial lifting” of sanctions, namely the 2016 and 2017 sanctions on the North’s export industries that also limited petroleum imports. The removal of these sanctions would have amounted to billions of dollars in sanctions relief, revenue that could be funneled back into the proscribed programs that we are trying to stop. Given the metastasis of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, the covert facilities, and the range of ballistic missiles, offering Yongbyon for the removal of these most effective sanctions, on its face, was a grossly disproportionate trade.

The Hanoi Summit Was Doomed From the Start

By Ankit Panda and Vipin Narang

It should come as no surprise that the Hanoi summit between the United States and North Korea ended in failure. The two countries’ incompatible demands made reaching a new agreement—not just on North Korea’s nuclear program but on anything—almost impossible. Washington called on Pyongyang to unilaterally surrender its entire nuclear weapons program before it would make any concessions. Despite intial reports that the United States was ready to move negotiations forward by first seeking a partial freeze on production of fissile material, it instead went after the whole program—everything old and new—in one swing. Pyongyang unsurprisingly refused, demanding that Washington lift almost all sanctions before it would discuss any further “denuclearization steps.” The United States considered that too high a price for anything short of Pyongyang’s total unilateral disarmament, and talks collapsed. The gulf between U.S. and North Korean demands—not to mention a lack of agreement on what terms as central as “denuclearization” or “corresponding measures” actually meant—had been deftly papered over in the months since the historic first summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore last June. But the bill finally came due in Hanoi.

WHAT WENT WRONG

After Hanoi: North Korea, the US and Japan

By George Friedman

As the United States alters its strategy, the others will follow suit.

The Hanoi talks ended in deadlock. Both sides – represented by U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – showed their anger by refusing to shake hands. The media labeled the talks a failure. But I’ve been involved in a number of negotiations in my life, and I see this as a normal part of the process. At some point, all parties will take positions designed to test the other side’s hunger for a deal, and prudent negotiators know that showing hunger can be devastating. So, ending the negotiation, particularly with a show of anger, is routine. At the same time, mutual rejection can be genuine, and now each side is trying to figure out how serious the other is. Establishing that you are prepared to walk away from the table is important – but sometimes the deal falls apart as a result.

Where Things Stand

7 March 2019

The Hanoi Summit Failed Because the U.S. Doesn’t Understand How Kim Sees the World

Steven Metz 

The world was riveted this week by the meeting in Hanoi between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Last year’s initial summit between the two leaders in Singapore created nearly giddy hope for an end to the longstanding hostility between the United States and North Korea, particularly the resolution of the thorniest issue of all: North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program. But a true breakthrough in Vietnam was always unlikely for one pressing reason: Americans persistently fail to understand how Kim sees the world, instead treating him as they want him to be, rather than as he really is.

So it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that talks broke down and both sides abruptly walked away from the two-day summit, issuing contradictory explanations of how disagreements over sanctions relief derailed the negotiations. 

The Hanoi Summit Failed Because the U.S. Doesn’t Understand How Kim Sees the World

Steven Metz 

The world was riveted this week by the meeting in Hanoi between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Last year’s initial summit between the two leaders in Singapore created nearly giddy hope for an end to the longstanding hostility between the United States and North Korea, particularly the resolution of the thorniest issue of all: North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program. But a true breakthrough in Vietnam was always unlikely for one pressing reason: Americans persistently fail to understand how Kim sees the world, instead treating him as they want him to be, rather than as he really is.

So it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that talks broke down and both sides abruptly walked away from the two-day summit, issuing contradictory explanations of how disagreements over sanctions relief derailed the negotiations. 

6 March 2019

Engagement with North Korea: Small Steps May Matter More Than Big Ones

by Rafiq Dossani and Heejin Kim

The second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is scheduled for February 27 and 28 in Vietnam. What can be expected?

The first summit, held in Singapore in June 2018, produced some small, quick, and positive gains, notably reducing the heightened tension of the time. The provocative rhetoric between Trump and Kim has since been muted. The United States canceled its usual joint military exercises with South Korea, which were later resumed but on a smaller scale. North Korea closed its Punggye-ri nuclear test site and returned the remains of 55 U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War. Pyongyang also has kept its promise not to carry out nuclear and missile tests.

From those hopeful beginnings, however, the two countries soon reached a stalemate. The fitful discussions between the two sides since June have not resulted in any progress on three key issues: denuclearization, a peace treaty, and the removal of sanctions on North Korea. Meanwhile, there are reports that North Korea has continued producing nuclear weapons.

5 March 2019

Failure in Hanoi Doesn’t Mean Peace Is Dead

BY PATRICIA KIM

This week, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walked away from Hanoi empty-handed. Their failure to sign a deal was shocking, given most of the speculation before the summit had focused on what would be in the deal, not on whether one would be signed. The failed summit has undeniably made negotiations more difficult going forward. But the silver lining is that the two sides now have the time to step back and lay the foundations for a sustainable diplomatic track, which is essential given the long road ahead.

The Hanoi summit, according to Trump, ultimately collapsed because the North Koreans wanted all existing sanctions lifted in exchange for dismantling the Yongbyon test site. A few hours later, Ri Yong Ho, the North Korean minister of foreign affairs, held a news conference and countered that his side had only asked for partial, not full, sanctions relief. He specified that out of the 11 total U.N. sanctions, they wanted the five imposed between 2016 and 2017—especially the parts that have an impact on “peoples’ livelihood” and the “civilian economy”—to be lifted.

First Impressions: Understanding What Happened at the US-North Korea Summit in Hanoi

By Ankit Panda

In the lead-up to the U.S.-North Korea summit meeting in Hanoi this week, I took U.S. President Donald Trump’s advice and kept my expectations low. Contrary to the lead-up to the Singapore Summit, where expectations on denuclearization in particular had been set sky-high, Trump worked in the run-up to Hanoi to lower them, emphasizing that he was in “no rush” for North Korea’s denuclearization—that all he cared about was that no nuclear or ballistic missile tests occur on his watch.

At Hanoi, the result came in even below my already low expectations. The two sides were unable to come to any productive agreement. Trump confessed at the press conference following the breakdown that the U.S. had even prepared “papers” for the two sides to sign; the White House had sent around a schedule to reporters prematurely announcing a “signing ceremony” too. All this was changed at the last moment and it increasingly looks like it was because North Korea had to walk out on the United States after it refused to budge on the core issue at the center of the process today—and in the past: sanctions.