In early March, North Korea triumphantly declared that it had absolutely no cases of the covid-19 virus. Yet most analysts agree that available evidence suggests the opposite. If the regime’s previous behavior in crises is any indication, we should expect it to respond with deceit, aggression and militarism, including increased arms-testing. Sadly, many North Koreans will likely die in the process.
In the 1990s, North Korea endured a catastrophic famine that likely killed millions. The North Korean government faced a series of shocks, including flooding, crop failure and the sudden end of Soviet subsidies. Government incompetence, indifference and theft of precious aid supplies all contributed to the chaos.… Seguir leyendo »
Is anyone surprised? On the last day of 2019, after months of threatening the United States to ease its nuclear standoff with “a bold decision” by year’s end — or else — the leader of North Korea darkly announced that the country would unveil a new strategic weapon “in the near future.” Kim Jong-un also declared an end to a moratorium on nuclear weapons and missile tests. On the first day of 2020, he did not deliver his customary, often fiery, New Year’s address. In other words, he interrupted his regularly scheduled program to bring us his latest threat.
The false calm is over; the old North Korean nuclear crisis is back on — only, it has just entered a deadly serious phase.… Seguir leyendo »
What is North Korea doing and what does it mean?
North Korea has taken a series of escalatory steps by conducting 13 missile tests (short-range and submarine-launched ballistic missiles) since May and lodging threats including an unwelcome “Christmas gift” it will present if the U.S. fails to propose a new deal by the end of the year. Pyongyang upped the ante again on 8 December, by claiming to have conducted a “very important” test at the Sohae satellite launching ground – likely of a rocket engine; five days later, it carried out another such test at the same facility to strengthen its “strategic nuclear deterrent”, another way of describing capabilities relevant for a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).… Seguir leyendo »
Guess what country just issued stamps of Donald Trump? North Korea! Yes: An official postage stamp features grave-looking likenesses of President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, standing side by side. It commemorates their pleasantry-laden chitchat earlier this summer at Panmunjom, in the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas.
Why is North Korea celebrating that moment as “historic” (Mr. Kim’s own word)? Because it has to. After Mr. Kim scurried down to get whatever face time the American would grant him, the scene had all the makings of a public humiliation. So the North Koreans are now aggressively pretending that the encounter was somehow a coup for Mr.… Seguir leyendo »
President Trump’s 50-minute-long meeting on Sunday with Kim Jong-un, leader of North Korea, in the Korean Peninsula’s Demilitarized Zone was, in typical Trumpian fashion, good television. But it has the potential to be something much more significant.
While meeting in the thin buffer zone established after the end of the Korean War, the two leaders agreed to resume talks about Pyongyang’s nuclear program. That may not sound like much. But following March’s failed summit in Hanoi, it could provide the basis for detailed talks between real negotiators, signifying an important step toward reaching an agreement to address the global threat of North Korea’s nuclear program.… Seguir leyendo »
As President Xi Jinping of China left North Korea on Friday afternoon, much attention was focused on whether he had obtained any concession on denuclearization from Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader — and how he might leverage that when he meets President Trump this week on the margins of the G-20 summit. But this focus on nuclear weapons and China’s trade war with the United States obscures the real significance of Mr. Xi’s trip, and it mistakes his weakness for strength.
As notable as the pomp and ceremony of the rare meeting — the first visit to Pyongyang by a Chinese head of state in 14 years — was the lack of specifics about policy to emerge from it.… Seguir leyendo »
The North Korean government wants to talk. On Saturday morning, displaying its signature defiance and smokescreen strategy, it fired off its eastern coast what the South Korean military called short-range “projectiles.” The drill was its first rocket launch to be detected since November 2017, when it fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (I.C.B.M.) capable of striking the United States.
A brief period of measured hope had followed the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, in Singapore last June. But Saturday’s provocation leaves no doubt that, once again, the government in Pyongyang is gradually, and very deliberately, escalating tensions to build up its leverage with the United States — this time with a view to resetting the terms of stalled negotiations.… Seguir leyendo »
A failed summit in Hanoi between the U.S. and North Korea has resulted in a diplomatic stalemate. In this excerpt from the first update of our Watch List 2019 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to utilise its neutral position to re-energise the ailing peace process and adopt measures to ease the plight of North Koreans.
The tensions between Washington and Pyongyang that flared dangerously in 2017 have significantly abated, but for the moment so have hopes for a breakthrough that would end decades of conflict. North Korea and the U.S. pivoted from escalation to dialogue in 2018, resulting in the first leader-level summit between the two states and agreement on a broad set of shared principles.… Seguir leyendo »
As deal-making goes, Donald Trump’s approach to negotiating with North Korea has resembled nothing so much as his purchase, in 1988, of New York’s Plaza Hotel: Rely on personal chemistry, ignore the advice of experts, neglect due diligence and then overpay for an investment that delivers no returns.
As with the Plaza, the result is about the same: a fiasco. Trump only avoided personal bankruptcy over the hotel thanks to the indulgence of his creditors. Who will bail out the United States — and at what price — for a bankrupt policy on the Korean Peninsula?
Vladimir Putin, maybe?
The Russian strongman certainly seemed to be angling for the role when he hosted Kim Jong-un at a summit in Vladivostok this week.… Seguir leyendo »
The meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un, held on 27-28 February in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, was a disappointment. The parties announced that they had failed to reach an agreement. According to the post-summit statements made by Donald Trump and DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, the main stumbling block was the price that the North Koreans demanded in exchange for the dismantling of their nuclear centre in Yongbyon.
Pyongyang insisted that the Americans should lift their economic sanctions against the DPRK, which were detailed in five resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council in 2016 and 2017.… Seguir leyendo »
Having participated in nuclear negotiations with North Korea, I know what failure smells like. The truncated Hanoi summit, which concluded abruptly without an agreement between President Trump and Kim Jong-un, carried an awful stench.
There were high expectations for this second meeting of American and North Korean leaders after the lack of progress on denuclearization commitments made at their first summit, in Singapore last summer. And yet, not only did Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim fail to offer more empty promises, they even dispensed with signing a joint statement, canceled their planned ceremonial lunch, and skipped the joint news conference.
This outcome shouldn’t necessarily be a surprise.… Seguir leyendo »
There were encouraging signs leading up to the second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. For his part, Trump signaled a subtle but important shift in his approach toward North Korea’s denuclearization — repeatedly saying, «Speed is not important to me» and «I’m in no rush.» This indicated Trump finally was beginning to accept what most nonproliferation experts have been saying all along: That denuclearization of North Korea will be a long and complex process that may last over a decade.
The good vibes continued through the summit, as the usually reclusive Kim showed signs of opening up.… Seguir leyendo »
En Hanói, Vietnam, Kim Jong-un, el líder norcoreano de 35 años, se reunirá en su segunda cumbre con el Presidente estadounidense Donald Trump. No solo buscará un acuerdo sobre el tema nuclear, sino que apuntará a un objetivo de más largo plazo: sacar a su país del aislamiento diplomático, mitigar la presión de años de sanciones económicas internacionales y reformar el “reino ermitaño”, sumido en la pobreza, para afianzarse en el poder en las décadas futuras.
A medida que Kim prepara el rumbo futuro de su país, tal vez advierta que el propio historial de Vietnam en las últimas tres décadas es el modelo más útil de imitar.… Seguir leyendo »
What has happened since the first U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore?
At the conclusion of the Singapore summit last June, the U.S. and North Korea issued a statement calling for a new bilateral relationship, a stable peninsular peace regime, efforts toward denuclearisation of the peninsula, and the recovery of U.S. soldiers’ remains from the Korean War. The statement lacked detail as to how and when these goals might be achieved. These gaps had the advantage of not setting the bar too high, but the pervasive vagueness was criticized.
The lack of clear direction from Singapore contributed to patchy dialogue through the rest of the year and – though both sides took what might be viewed as confidence-building steps – no major progress was made.… Seguir leyendo »
And so they meet again. President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the ruler of North Korea, are expected to gather this week in Hanoi, Vietnam, for a second round of nuclear negotiations. Mr. Kim bested Mr. Trump at their first meeting in Singapore in June last year. And he is poised to do so again.
The reason is simple: He has a strategy and the Americans do not. The United States hopes to somehow keep the world safe from North Korea. But Mr. Kim has an actual plan to make the world safe for North Korea.
Mr. Kim’s plan — the same as his father’s and grandfather’s, and one breathtakingly revisionist — is nothing less than unconditional reunification of the Korean Peninsula under the control of his government in Pyongyang.… Seguir leyendo »
The first summit outlined the general framework of the new relations but the second should be devoted to solving more specific tasks. During the negotiations the sides will try to agree on specific mutual concessions. On the one hand, each side will seek to present the outcomes of the summit as its own victory, and this is much more important for Trump, since he relies on public opinion to a much greater extent than Kim. On the other hand, neither side is ready to take any actions that may affect its prestige and/or defense capability.
Both Trump and Kim are taking risks but in different ways.… Seguir leyendo »
There are reasons for concern about a second U.S.-North Korea summit. If there is no tangible movement on denuclearization, public support for dialogue with North Korea will erode quickly, with the potential for a return to a policy of “maximum pressure.” If this were to happen, it would be a major diplomatic failure with far reaching consequences.
In 2017, when North Korea had 18 ballistic missile launches, to include two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) launches capable of reaching the United States, and a test of a thermonuclear warhead, the prospect of military conflict with North Korea was real.
Fortunately, Kim Jong-un quickly pivoted, in his January 2018 New Year’s address, to an appeal for better relations with South Korea and the United States, stating that a nuclear North Korea could now focus exclusively on economic development.… Seguir leyendo »
President Trump, born in 1946, now has another opportunity to go to Vietnam.
At his State of the Union address Tuesday night, the president announced his long-awaited second summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. It will be held at the end of the month in Vietnam, he said. While Mr. Trump did not disclose the specific location of the meeting, the confab will be in the coastal city of Da Nang, according to multiple sources.
The choice of venue is instructive. Da Nang, a bustling city about halfway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (nee Saigon), combines industry and shipping with resort amenities and beaches.… Seguir leyendo »
President Moon Jae-in of South Korea returned from Pyongyang this week bearing fresh messages of good will from Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader: promises to permanently dismantle a test site and a missile-launch pad and to shutter a major nuclear facility. The pledges — “subject to final negotiations,” as President Trump artfully put it — have already been criticized as half-steps, if not traps. There still is no road map or timeline for the complete denuclearization of North Korea.
But the prevailing preoccupation with defense issues obscures a truly notable feature of Mr. Moon’s visit: the group of business leaders he brought along, including from Samsung and South Korea’s other major conglomerates.… Seguir leyendo »
President Moon Jae-in of South Korea arrived in Pyongyang early on Tuesday for a three-day visit. The outcomes of this summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will set the tempo for the remainder of 2018 and beyond. But progress between the two Koreas is partly dependent on reversing the decline in U.S.-North Korean engagement since the 12 June meeting in Singapore between Kim and President Donald Trump.
For North Korea, the diplomatic dance began on 9 September with the 70th anniversary of its establishment as a separate state, celebrated with a military parade in Kim Il-sung Square and a revival of the country’s famed gymnastic displays, the Mass Games.… Seguir leyendo »