North Korean Nukes, South Korea, Japan, China and Obama, Dan Miller’s Blog, September 10, 2016
(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)
On September 9th, North Korea conducted its fifth nuke test, of its most powerful nuke thus far. Can Obama get China to help make North Korea stop developing and testing nukes? Nope. China sees Obama, not as the representative of the world’s greatest power, but as a joke. He has no clout internationally and is a national embarrassment.
China and North Korea – a very short history
Here’s a link to an article I posted on June 25, 2013 about the Korean conflict. To summarize, China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) have a long history of acting together. China views the Republic of Korea (South Korea), which borders North Korea to the south and is an American ally, as a threat. She does not want reunification of the Korean peninsula under a government favorable to America.
When, on June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea with Russian aircraft, weaponry, training and other substantial support, China did not assist North Korea. North Korean forces pushed the South Korean government, as well as the few American military advisers (then under the command of the Department of State), south to the Pusan perimeter. Following General MacArthur’s unexpected and successful Inchon invasion which began on September 15th, American and other United Nations forces pushed the North Korean forces back north: MacArthur sent his by then greatly augmented forces east to Wonson and eventually managed to push North Korean forces to the northern side of the Yalu River. However, Chinese forces struck back en masse and MacArthur’s forces were driven back to Seoul.
Ever since bringing to an end MacArthur’s successes in the Korean Conflict, China has supported North Korea. She has opposed, and has then declined to enforce, significant sanctions responsive to North Korean nuclear and missile development and testing. While China may acquiesce in weak UN resolutions condemning North Korean provocations, she rarely goes beyond that.
China, Japan and the two Koreas
China has a long memory and still resents, bitterly, the lengthy period prior to and during World War II when Japan occupied significant parts of China. Ditto South Korea, all of which was under Japanese occupation for a lengthy period prior to and during World War II. Although China has substantial trade with both South Korea and Japan, she is more hostile to Japan than is South Korea; the latter two have substantial mutual interests transcending trade.
Perhaps the most important current dispute between China on the one hand, and Japan-South Korea-America on the other, involves the plans of Japan and South Korea to defend against North Korean missiles by the installation of THAAD anti-missile weapons provided by America. China’s stated reason for opposition to the THAAD system is that it could be used against Chinese, as well as North Korean, missiles. Why does China assert this objection unless she hopes to fire missiles at one or both of them? If China fires missiles at Japan and/or South Korea, they have every right to destroy her missiles and to respond in kind with U.S. assistance if requested.
condemned Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test today in the “strongest possible terms as a grave threat to regional security and to international peace and stability” as outraged lawmakers from both parties called for tougher action to stop North Korea’s nuclear program. [Emphasis added.]
That may well be all that Obama does — despite the warnings of Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, that
we have to make it absolutely clear that if they engage in any military activity, they will be destroyed. We have to have a credible deterrent. That seems to be the only thing that will stop North Korea from engaging in military action… We have sanctioned them, and we should keep sanctioning them, but it’s not going to stop them from developing the nuclear weapons.” [Emphasis added.]
Obama won’t do that:
In a statement Friday, President Obama vowed to “take additional significant steps, including new sanctions, to demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to its unlawful and dangerous actions.”
Obama did not suggest what He might have in mind, beyond historically ineffective sanctions and condemnations “in the strongest possible terms,” to let North Korea know that there will be “consequences.”
A September 9th article at the New York Times provides an unpleasant analysis of the options Obama now has, and which His successor will have, in dealing with North Korea.
A hard embargo, in which Washington and its allies block all shipping into and out of North Korea and seek to paralyze its finances, risks confrontations that allies in Asia fear could quickly escalate into war. But restarting talks on the North’s terms would reward the defiance of its young leader, Kim Jong-un, with no guarantee that he will dismantle the nuclear program irrevocably.
For more than seven years, President Obama has sought to find a middle ground, adopting a policy of gradually escalating sanctions that the White House once called “strategic patience.” But the test on Friday — the North’s fifth and most powerful blast yet, perhaps with nearly twice the strength of its last one — eliminates any doubt that that approach has failed and that the North has mastered the basics of detonating a nuclear weapon.
Despite sanctions and technological backwardness, North Korea appears to have enjoyed a burst of progress in its missile program over the last decade, with experts warning that it is speeding toward a day when it will be able to threaten the West Coast of the United States and perhaps the entire country. [Emphasis added.]
. . . .
Mr. Obama has refused to negotiate with the North unless it agrees first that the ultimate objective of any talks would be a Korean Peninsula without nuclear arms. But Mr. Kim has demonstrated, at least for now, that time is on his side. And as he gets closer to an ability to threaten the United States with a nuclear attack, and stakes the credibility of his government on it, it may be even more difficult to persuade him to give up the program.
In a statement Friday, Mr. Obama condemned the North’s test and said it “follows an unprecedented campaign of ballistic missile launches, which North Korea claims are intended to serve as delivery vehicles intended to target the United States and our allies.”
“To be clear, the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state,” he said.
Many experts who have dealt with North Korea say the United States may have no choice but to do so. [Emphasis added.]
“It’s too late on the nuclear weapons program — that is not going to be reversed,” William Perry, the defense secretary under President Bill Clinton during the 1994 nuclear crisis with North Korea, said in August at a presentation in Kent, Conn. The only choice now, he argued, is to focus on limiting the missile program. [Emphasis added.]
Obama has taken no significant steps to limit Iran’s continuing missile development and testing program. How can He limit that of North Korea without Chinese cooperation?
Yet the latest effort to do that, an agreement between the United States and South Korea to deploy an advanced missile defense system in the South, has inflamed China, which argues the system is also aimed at its weapons. While American officials deny that, the issue has divided Washington and Beijing so sharply that it will be even more difficult now for them to come up with a joint strategy for dealing with the North. [Emphasis added.]
China has been so vocal with its displeasure over the deployment of the American system that Mr. Kim may have concluded he could afford to upset Beijing by conducting Friday’s test. [Emphasis added.]
Fueling that perception were reports that a North Korean envoy visited Beijing earlier this week.
“North Korea almost certainly sees this as an opportunity to take steps to enhance its nuclear and missile capabilities with little risk that China will do anything in response,” Evans J.R. Revere, a former State Department official and North Korea specialist, said in a speech in Seoul on Friday. [Emphasis added.]
The breach between China and the United States was evident during Mr. Obama’s meeting with President Xi Jinping last week. “I indicated to him that if the Thaad bothered him, particularly since it has no purpose other than defensive and does not change the strategic balance between the United States and China, that they need to work with us more effectively to change Pyongyang’s behavior,” Mr. Obama said, referring to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, as the advanced missile defense project is known. [Emphasis added.]
North Korea and Iran
Iran and North Korea have a long history of cooperation in developing nukes and missiles with which to deliver them. In the past, Iranian scientists have been present at North Korean nuke tests, and vice versa. They have also assisted each other in the development of nukes and missiles.
Iran and North Korea have substantial reasons to cooperate: by virtue of the Iran scam, Iran now has lots of money but is at least minimally restricted in its nuke development. North Korea has little usable currency, needs whatever it can get, and no attempts to halt or even to limit its nuke development have worked.
A missile fired recently by North Korea bore a striking resemblance to an Iranian missile.
Photos released by North Korea of its launch of long-range ballistic missiles are the latest proof of the close military cooperation between Pyongyang and Tehran, an Israeli expert in the field told the news site IsraelDefense on Tuesday.
According to Tal Inbar — head of Space and UAV Research Centre at the Fisher Institute for Air & Space Strategic Studies — what was new in the photos was the shape of the warheads attached to the Nodong missiles, known in Iran as the Shahab-3.
Until now, such warheads — first detected by Inbar in Iran in 2010 — have not been seen in North Korea. At the time, Inbar dubbed them NRVs (or, “new entry vehicles”), which became their nickname among missile experts around the world. [Emphasis added.]
Inbar told IsraelDefense: “The configuration that we saw [on Tuesday] is identical to what we saw in Iran six years ago. In principle, its penetrating body (warhead) is identical to that of Scud missiles, but is mounted on the Shahab-3, and creates a more stable entity than other Shahab/Nodong warheads.”
Inbar said this was the third time that something of this nature had appeared in Iran before it did in North Korea. “But we must remember that the two countries engage in close cooperation where military and space-directed missiles are concerned,” he said. “It is thus possible that both plans and technology are being transferred regularly from one to the other.” [Emphasis added.]
Are North Korea and Iran rational? According to this New York Times analysis, North Korea is.
North Korea’s actions abroad and at home, while abhorrent, appear well within its rational self-interest, according to a 2003 study by David C. Kang, a political scientist now at the University of Southern California. At home and abroad, he found, North Korean leaders shrewdly determined their interests and acted on them. (In an email, he said his conclusions still applied.) [Emphasis added.]
“All the evidence points to their ability to make sophisticated decisions and to manage palace, domestic and international politics with extreme precision,” Mr. Kang wrote. “It is not possible to argue these were irrational leaders, unable to make means-ends calculations.” [Emphasis added.]
Victor Cha, a Georgetown University professor who served as the Asian affairs director on George W. Bush’s National Security Council, has repeatedly argued that North Korea’s leadership is rational.
I submit that the same analysis, applied to Iran, produces the same result. Iran’s leaders know what they want, and are sufficiently rational to achieve it; they did. Obama, not the leader of a dictatorial theocracy, is sufficiently irrational to believe that what he wants for the Islamic Republic of Iran is what America needs it to have. It is not.
Obama and Iran
Obama’s Iran scam would be farcical were it not potentially deadly. He did not do what would have been best for America and the free world in general — increase sanctions until Iran complied fully with UN resolutions on missile testing, ceased Uranium enrichment and disposed of the means to do it, ceased all nuke research as well as all nuke cooperation with North Korea and ceased supporting all terrorist groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas. Instead, perhaps considering Himself above such trivia, Obama sought little more than what He considered His greatest achievement — His legacy:
If Obama were viewed internationally as the powerful leader of the world’s most powerful nation, He might be able to get China to clamp down, severely and successfully, on North Korea’s nuke and missile development. Were China to reject His overtures, He could arrange for it to wish that it had acceded. That’s not who Obama is, as demonstrated by, among His other actions, entering into the Iran Scam deal with Iran.
Perhaps Kim Jong-un needs to dress like an Iranian mullah to convince Obama to give him a “deal” similar to the one He gave to Iran. He had better hurry: that won’t work with President Trump.