Will North Korea Ever Give Up its Nukes?

During his twelve-day trip around Asia in November 2017, President Donald Trump described North Korea as an out-of-control country led by a deranged man Then, Trump designated North Korea a state sponsor of terror

The reclusive authoritarian state joins a list alongside Iran, Sudan and Syria, after being taken off the list in 2008 by President George W Bush Trump is lifting US sanctions against Pyongyang to their highest level ever

He also demanded that, if Kim Jong-un wanted to negotiate the removal of economic and diplomatic sanctions, he would first have to give up his nuclear arsenal But will Kim ever give up his nukes? Tensions between North Korea and the USA have escalated in 2017 largely because of Kim Jong-Un’s persistent development of nuclear weapons He has made it quite clear that he wants to build a missile capable of reaching America The latest warhead tested was potentially over ten times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, and the latest missile reached far enough to hit the US

territory of Guam Trump has repeatedly told the Hermit Kingdom to scrap its nuclear program or he will take military action – he has promised to respond with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” Trump accuses Kim Jong-Un of being stubborn He has also lambasted China, Kim’s only real ally, for failing to make the Great Leader bow to his demands However, contrary to the popular presentation of Kim as a mad man pushing the world to the edge of nuclear war, his government have issued several statements that effectively say they are willing to give up their nukes

North Korea says America is “the root cause of aggression and war” More importantly, in summer 2017 its envoy said, “As long as the US hostile policy and nuclear threat continue, [North Korea] will never place its self-defensive nuclear deterrence on the negotiation table” In November, its ambassador to the United Nations reiterated, “As long as there is continuous hostile policy against my country by the U

S and as long as there are continued war games at our doorstep, then there will not be negotiations” The former head of the State Department's Northeast Asia Division, Robert Carlin, explains, “Observers dismiss as unimportant what the North Koreans say, therefore don’t read it carefully, except of course if it is colorful, fiery language that makes for lovely headlines Some of what the North says is simply propaganda and can be read with one eye closed Other things are written and edited very carefully, and need to be read very carefully

” As journalist Jon Schwarz notes, there is “a significant difference between North Korea saying it will never negotiate to halt or eliminate its nuclear weapons program, and that it will never negotiate as long as the US continues to threaten it… The reality is that North Korea is saying that, under certain conditions, it will put its nuclear weapons on the table” Philosopher Noam Chomsky says, “Remember the goal is to get North Korea to freeze its weapons systems One proposal is to accept their offer to do that China and North Korea proposed to freeze the North Korean missile and nuclear weapons systems and the U

S instantly rejected it… The same offer was presented [to] the Obama administration [and they] instantly rejected it” Chomsky believes America continues to ignore this offer because accepting it would require the US to back down on certain issues

Specifically, North Korea wants the US military to cease what it sees as aggressive behaviour on its borders There are twenty-eight and a half thousand American troops based in South Korea at any one time Every year, the army, air force and navy rehearse invading the north on the edge of its waters and the demilitarised zone

During Trump’s presidency, F-35 crews have begun training to operate in the event of chemical attacks, and nuclear-capable B-52s have flown near Pyongyang’s territory These are preparations for full-scale war In short, the USA is doing the opposite of what North Korea is asking for Journalist Zack Beauchamp says Trump's most recent approach is doomed to fail By asking offering to talk with North Korea if they give up their nukes, he is starting at the end, failing to recognise what the goal of negotiations must be

What’s more, Kim feels perfectly within his rights to possess nuclear weapons as an act of self-preservation The ruling Korean Worker’s Party newspaper said, “[Our] access to nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic rockets is a just choice for self-defense to counter the US nuclear threat” Dave Majumdar, defense editor for The National Interest, argues that Kim has no reason to trust America’s offers to negotiate

In 2011, America helped overthrow Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi after he gave up his WMD program in exchange for the US guaranteeing his security In 2017, Trump has repeatedly tried to scrap an international deal with Iran that lifted economic sanctions in return for it halting its nuclear program North Korea has no reason to believe America will honour the terms of any negotiation, and so will not back down unless America backs down

As it says, “The world's denuclearization is the aspiration and desire of humankind [The] US and other countries that have the largest number of nuclear weapons should take the lead in denuclearization” Donald Trump’s critics suggest his tendency to escalate the military threat is because his three most influential advisors are all former generals

His foreign policy is therefore inclined to lean on military solutions However, Korean specialist Robert E McCoy points out that we have seen all this before The US

A struck a deal with North Korea to disarm in 1994, only for the deal to fall apart in 2002 after North Korea had secretly gained access to Pakistan’s nuclear technology In 2012, North Korea suspended its program in return for American food aid, only to launch a missile test sixteen days later The truth is that North Korea has always been willing to stop its nuclear weapons program on the condition that America or its allies give North Korea something in return In the past, deals have always failed

It is quite possible that any deal struck now or in the near future, will also end badly Given that, we can expect North Korea to have nuclear weapons for a long time

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