Posted tagged ‘UN and North Korea’

China Sold Trucks Used With North Korean Missiles

September 14, 2017

China Sold Trucks Used With North Korean Missiles, Washington Free Beacon, September 14, 2017

(Please see also, What if South Korea acted like North Korea? — DM)

KN-11 launcher

The UN panel included a vague warning to China to stop its the missile-related transfers.

“The panel recalls and reaffirms its recommendation to member states on enhanced vigilance over the export of commercial vehicles that could be converted for military use,” the report said.

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Chinese military support to North Korea’s missile programs included transfers of rocket transporters, according to a new report by a United Nations panel of experts.

The report by the expert panel of the UN Security Council identified Chinese-origin trucks shown in a military parade last April carrying China’s new KN-11 submarine-launched ballistic missile.

“The trucks carried the ‘Sinotruk’ logo on the fuel tank and shared some identical features with the Sinotruk Howo 6×6 series trucks shown at the 10 October 2015 military parade,” the report said.

It is the second significant transfer of strategic missile technology from China identified by the panel.

In June 2013 the panel revealed the sale by China in 2011 of six to eight transporter erector launchers, known as TELs, that are now part of North Korea’s first road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile system, the KN-08.

China claimed the KN-08 TEL vehicles were sold as lumber haulers. However, analysts said the 16-wheel launchers are too wide for logging roads. The launchers are made by the Sanjiang Special Truck Co. of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC).

An earlier UN report in April said Chinese electronic components were found in debris of a North Korean missile test that landed in the Sea of Japan in 2016.

The latest disclosure on Chinese military assistance to North Korea comes amid reports the regime of Kim Jong Un is rapidly developing long-range nuclear missiles while stepping up threats to fire them at American cities and territory.

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R., N.C.) said the report on Chinese support shows that China has not been a good faith partner to the United States on North Korea.

“We must continue to pressure the Chinese, via any means necessary, to ensure they correct their actions related to North Korea, human rights, illegal maritime claims, and a variety of other related national security concerns,” Pittenger said.

Rick Fisher, a military affairs analyst, said the Chinese assistance increased the threat to the United States.

“Let’s be clear, North Korea’s is able to wage surprise offensive nuclear strikes against the United States only because China has supplied the means for North Korea’s missiles to be mobile, to reach launch positions before the United States can strike them,” Fisher said.

“This is really is no less an outrage than Nikita Khrushchev’s supplying nuclear missiles to Fidel Castro’s Cuba,” he said. “Yet for over four years President Obama did not once publicly mention this Chinese outrage, and so far, neither has President Trump.”

Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the report on Sinotruk vehicles carrying KN-11s provides new evidence of China’s covert role in assisting Pyongyang’s missile launch systems.

Other Chinese vehicles spotted with missiles in the April parade include what appeared to be a Sinotruk A7 tractor-trailer cab, seen carrying a new, unidentified North Korean medium-range missile. Mobile 300-millimeter precision-guided artillery rockets also were seen on the same Sinotruk vehicle as the KN-11. The artillery rockets were first paraded in 2015 and the Sinotruk carriers appeared upgraded in the April procession with a hardened grille.

The Chinese trucks were shown in videos and photos published by North Korean state media.

“Via Sinotruk, China is enabling North Korea to build larger tractor-trailer style TELs that in the future could perhaps transport multiple-warhead variants of its large, solid fuel ICBM,” said Fisher.

“Mobility will be crucial to the missions of North Korea’s new, large, solid-fuel ICBMs.”

Neither Sinotruk nor CASIC were included in recent sanctions announced by the Treasury Department imposed on 10 Chinese and Russian companies involved in illicit North Korean trade.

The UN report outlined some of the advances made by the North Koreans, including the first flight tests in February and July of new long-range missiles and new rocket engines, as well as the flight test of a Scud variant with a maneuvering warhead.

Maneuvering warheads are more difficult to track and shoot down with anti-missile interceptors.

The recent missile developments represent “a significant expansion and diversification of [North Korea] programs.”

“These new systems will allow the country to achieve greater range, responsiveness, reliability, and penetrating capabilities,” the report said.

The report said the second long-range Hwasong-14 ICBM tested on July 28 was “an improved version” of the missile tested on July 4.

The UN panel included a vague warning to China to stop its the missile-related transfers.

“The panel recalls and reaffirms its recommendation to member states on enhanced vigilance over the export of commercial vehicles that could be converted for military use,” the report said.

The UN also was urged to add the purchaser of the trucks, the Korea Daesong General Trading Corp., also known as the Korea Daesong Trading Co. No. 11, to be added to the list of sanctioned companies. A second company, Korea Kumsan Trading Corp., also was recommended for sanctions.

The report says the Chinese stated in response to UN inquiries that the missile carriers appeared similar to those made by the China National Heavy Duty Truck Group Co. (CNHTC) Ltd., also known as Sinotruk, that were exported to North Korea between 2010 and 2014.

According to the report, the Chinese defended the transfers as not prohibited under the Security Council embargo.

“Furthermore, in the sales contract, CHNTC explicitly requested the buyer to ensure the civilian use of the trucks,” the Chinese said.

China then claimed it could not confirm that the trucks seen in the parade, bearing the mark “Sinotruk” on the fuel tank, were produced by the Chinese companies because Beijing was not provided the vehicle identification numbers.

The report was published on Sept. 5, two days after Pyongyang detonated a large underground nuclear explosion. The report does not mention the nuclear test, North Korea’s sixth test blast.

The Security Council on Saturday voted to impose additional sanctions on North Korea, including a ban on Pyongyang’s largest export, coal.

However, the experts’ report said North Korea has easily evaded China’s restriction of coal purchases from North Korea.

North Korea “continued to violate sectoral sanctions through the export of almost all of the commodities prohibited in the [UN] resolutions, generating at least $270 million in revenue during the reporting period,” the report said.

After China suspended coal import in February, North Korea “has been rerouting coal to other member states including Malaysia and Vietnam, and has shipped coal through third countries,” the report said.

“The panel’s investigations reveal that the country is deliberately using indirect channels to export prohibited commodities, evading sanctions.”

To evade financial sanctions, Pyongyang stationed agents abroad that were able to conduct financial transactions for North Korean entities.

“Financial institutions in numerous member states wittingly and unwittingly have provided correspondent banking services to front companies and individuals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea engaged in prohibited activities,” the report said.

China was not named as the member state guilty of facilitating banking services for the North Koreans.

The report notes that North Korea “has made significant technological progress” in advancing its weapons of mass of destruction despite sanctions.

“The country also continues to flout the arms embargo and robust financial and sectoral sanctions, showing that as the sanctions regime expands, so does the scope of evasion,” the report said.

“For the first time in the history of the sanctions regime against the country, the use of a chemical warfare agent was reported by Malaysia, which accused [North Korea] of using VX [nerve agent] in the February 2017 assassination of Kim Jong Nam, reported to be Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, in Kuala Lumpur.”

UN Passes Mega-Ultra Toughest-Ever North Korea Sanctions, Again

September 12, 2017

UN Passes Mega-Ultra Toughest-Ever North Korea Sanctions, Again, PJ MediaClaudia Rosett, September 12, 2017

(Eliminating Kim Kimchi Jong-un is not a viable solution. China won’t permit regime change and, if China did, there is no reason to assume that Kim’s replacement would be an improvement. Please see also, UN Security Council passes new sanctions against North Korea. Frank Gaffney offers some good ideas and they don’t involve more useless sanctions. — DM)

The fifteen members of the Security Council are seen voting in favor of the new sanctions at a United Nations Security Council meeting regarding nuclear non-proliferation in light of the September 3rd test explosion of a missile-capable nuclear bomb by the Democratic Peoples’ Republic Of Korea (DPRK), at UN Headquarters in New York, NY, USA on September 11, 2017. At the meeting, Council members voted upon a draft Resolution calling for increased economic sanctions against the DPRK. Resolution 2375 was unanimously adopted by the 15 members of the Council. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones)(Sipa via AP Images)

Unless the real mission behind these sanctions is to help achieve the only real remedy — which is to take down the Pyongyang regime (not bargain with it) — then beware.

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Yet again, the United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously for a resolution imposing the toughest-ever sanctions on North Korea. This round, responding to North Korea’s test of what Pyongyang claimed was a hydrogen bomb, goes by the label of Resolution 2375, and marks the ninth time over the past 11 years that the UN Security Council — voting unanimously — has approved new sanctions in response to North Korean nuclear and missile tests.

Each round has been tougher than the last. In March, 2016 for instance, following North Korea’s fourth nuclear test, the UN passed Resolution 2270, which former Ambassador Samantha Power described as “so much tougher than any prior North Korea resolution.” Less than nine months later, following North Korea’s fifth nuclear test, came UN Resolution 2321, hailed by CNN as “Toughest UN sanctions yet… .”

You get the idea. This parade of tough-tougher-toughest and tougher-than-toughest UN sanctions has been going on since the UN Security Council in 2006, following North Korea’s first nuclear test, unanimously approved Resolution 1718, imposing sanctions that President Bush described at the time as “swift and tough.”

I’m all in favor of being ultra-tough on North Korea (make that mega-ultra-jumbo-tough, even better). This latest round aims to constrict North Korea’s oil supply, ban its textile imports, curtail its smuggling and end its revenues from joint ventures and laborers working abroad. That’s on top of the web of previous strictures.

But by now one might begin to suspect that sanctions, however tough, are not going to stop Kim Jong Un’s nuclear missile program. It’s a bad sign that these UN resolutions, which routinely begin by listing the relevant previous resolutions, have now achieved a degree of layering that resembles portions of such monstrosities as the Affordable Care Act. The UN has not yet posted the full text of this latest resolution, #2375. But a reasonable proxy can be found in the prior resolution, passed on August 5. Just add one more layer:

“Recalling its previous relevant resolutions, including resolution 825 (1993), resolution 1540 (2004), resolution 1695 (2006), resolution 1718 (2006), resolution 1874 (2009), resolution 1887 (2009), resolution 2087 (2013), resolution 2094 (2013), resolution 2270 (2016), resolution 2321 (2016), and resolution 2356 (2017), as well as the statements of its President of 6 October 2006 (S/PRST/2006/41), 13 April 2009 (S/PRST/2009/7) and 16 April 2012 (S/PRST/2012/13),”

There are two basic problems here.

The first problem is that sanctions are not an airtight proposition. They are more like a sieve than an impermeable barrier. They leak. They erode. For sanctions violators, part of the game is to set up new fronts and devise new deceptions; part is to wait until the immediate crisis passes, and enforcement starts to flag. North Korea has long experience at evading and adapting to sanctions. So do its chief patrons, Russia and China. So does its partner-in-proliferation, Iran, and Iran’s mascot, Syria.

And whatever the reach and coercive financial power of the mighty U.S., it has not sufficed to date to persuade scores of UN member states to comply with the list of sanctions above. The UN fields a Panel of Experts on North Korea sanctions who have been turning in terrific, regular and hefty reports on compliance — or lack of compliance — by UN member states.

Three years ago, in their 2014 report, these experts noted that the problem was not lack of sanctions measures, but lack of compliance:

“At the present time, the Panel does not see new measures as necessary in order to further slow the prohibited programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, to dissuade it from engaging in proliferation activities or to halt its trade in arms and related materiel. Rather, the Panel believes that Member States already have at their disposal adequate tools.”

The UN requires its member states to submit “implementation reports” on how they plan to comply with UN sanctions. Out of the UN’s 193 member states, scores of countries simply don’t do it. Just last week, in an interim report dated Sept. 5, the UN Panel of Experts noted that for the two sanctions resolutions passed last year, the number of non-reporting states remains “significant” — as in, roughly half the UN membership.

Of course, even when countries do submit their implementation reports, that’s no guarantee that North Korea will be deprived of goods for its proliferation programs. For instance, while China has dutifully been filing the required reports to the UN, the Panel of Experts, in their Sept. 5 report, mentioned that North Korea’s military parade this past April included missiles transported on three-axle trucks that had a Chinese manufacturer’s logo on the fuel tank.

In response to the Panel, Chinese authorities provided an array of comments. They posited that such trucks, exported from 2010-2014, were “not under embargo of the Security Council.” They said the exporter and manufacturer of the trucks could not be identified, due to lack of “Vehicle Identification Number and other relevant information.” And they noted that the sales contract “requested explicitly ‘the buyer to ensure the civilian use of the trucks and comply with concerned provisions of Chinese laws and Security Council resolutions.’ “

Ummm…is that supposed to be reassuring?

For North Korea, yet more sanctions might indeed raise the cost of provisioning its nuclear missile program, and shrink the resources available — at least until the regime finds new ways to adapt. But North Korea’s regime has an unswerving record of placing its military and weapons programs above the needs of North Korea’s people. It’s highly unlikely that UN Security Council Resolution 2375 will persuade Kim to abjure ICBMs and hydrogen bombs, in favor of allocating resources to cold and hungry North Koreans.

Which brings us to the second big problem with these UN resolutions. They all aim, quite explicitly, to bring North Korea back to the bargaining table. This is an idea all too prevalent in Washington as well. In testimony on North Korea to the Senate Banking Committee last week, former Acting Secretary of the Treasury Adam Szubin summed it up, saying that sanctions “are meant to incentivize behavioral change.”

Dream on. If North Korea’s regime does come to the bargaining table, that might look like a change in behavior. But everything in the record by now should be telling us that North Korea won’t be coming to relinquish its nuclear missile program. It will be coming to cash in, again, on the illusions of American diplomats. It will be coming to cash in, yet again, on the blinkered expertise of a host of former U.S. officials now treated as sages of North Korea policy because they were intimately involved in nuclear deals… that failed.

Those bargains, and attempted bargains, stretching back to 1994, helped pave the way to the current crisis of nuclear bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles in the hands of a totalitarian North Korean regime that threatens and mocks the U.S., aspires to subjugate South Korea, is pushing East Asia toward a nuclear arms race, and doubles as a rogue munitions merchant to the world’s worst predators.

On paper, Resolution 2375 might sound like a formula for success, or at least a good move in that direction. Slather more sanctions — the toughest yet! — on North Korea, and hope it leads to a deal. There will now be a new round of Washington conferences, and Op-eds, and reports, and testimony, dissecting and embellishing on the latest sanctions and, when these toughest-ever sanctions turn out to be inadequate to stop Kim’s nuclear projects, recommending yet more sanctions. In Washington, it’s become an industry unto itself — expanding in tandem in tandem with North Korea’s flourishing nuclear program.

Unless the real mission behind these sanctions is to help achieve the only real remedy — which is to take down the Pyongyang regime (not bargain with it) — then beware.

 

When nothing deters the clever brutal tyrant

September 5, 2017

When nothing deters the clever brutal tyrant, Washinton TimesWesley Pruden, September 4, 2017

(Words, words, I’m so sick of words.

Yep. But not in the same context — DM)

Kim Jong-Un

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

If words were bullets, the crazy fat kid in Pyongyang would have been dead a long time ago, with his ample carcass on display now within a shrine of marble, plaster and tears. But under that goofy haircut there’s a brain that is not so crazy at all.

Words, words, words. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, says North Korea is “begging for war,” which suggests that North Korea will get it if the begging continues. “Enough is enough. War is never something the United States wants. We don’t want it now. But our country’s patience is not unlimited.”

President Trump telephoned President Moon Jae-in in Seoul and they agreed that the fat kid’s explosion of a hydrogen bomb, underground or not, is not only a grave provocation, but “unprecedented,” too.

One after another, diplomats of America’s more or less reliable European allies, Britain, France and Italy, renewed demands for Kim Jong-un to behave himself, or else be sent to his room without supper. They demand that he halt his nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile scheme, or else — “else” being more of the sanctions that so far haven’t worked.

Francois Delattre, the French ambassador to the U.N., proposes “new” sanctions by the U.N., implementing the sanctions already in place, and new and separate sanctions that also might not work by the European Union. Words, words, words.

Sebastiano Cardi, the Italian ambassador, repeats the chorus as if he were singing the grace notes in an aria from Verdi: “Pyongyang poses a clear threat challenging the global nonproliferation regime.” Mr. Cardi is chairman of the U.N. North Korean compliance committee, and observes that North Korea is the only country to have tested a nuclear device in the 21st century. Mr. Cardi imagines this might shame the fat kid, but Kim takes it as a compliment. He has the toys that the other kids can only envy.

Japan and South Korea have unique critical concerns, sharing a neighborhood with the villains in the North. “We cannot waste any more time,” says the Japanese ambassador, Koro Bessho. “We need North Korea to feel the pressure, that if they go down this road there will be consequences.”

All true, all to the point, but Kim can count it all as just more yada, yada, yada from those he torments. He has his neighbors, and the lord protector the United States, backed into a corner, and he has never had so much fun. He doesn’t mind being the international pariah. He knows the United States dare not put the American boot with its hobnails on his neck, where it could squash him like a bug on the sidewalk, for fear of inviting massive retaliation on Seoul, killing upwards of a million innocents.

Nikki Haley suggests spreading the pain of sanctions, punishing nations that do business with Pyongyang, whether in contraband food and oil, or textiles, the profitable North Korean export so far untouched by the sanctions in place. Tighter limits on exporting North Korean laborers to other nations have been suggested, too. Much of the money these laborers earn is confiscated by the Pyongyang government, and important to the North Korean economy.

Russia and China, always eager to be helpful, suggest bartering Kim’s nuclear threat against the American guarantee of South Korean national security. Eliminate both and every conflict would be resolved, every rough place made smooth and plain. Both Russia and China know this is unacceptable to both Washington and Seoul, and it’s not a solution offered in good faith, anyway.

Some diplomats, pundits and other speculators argue that since nothing else works, returning to “diplomacy,” that vague and formless cure-all that usually cures nothing and invites only more yada, yada, yada, is the way to go. “Jaw, jaw beats war, war,” as Mr. Churchill said, but jaw, jaw has its limits, too.

Doing nothing is what brought the United States — and its allies — to the present moment. Bill Clinton, distracted by staining Monica Lewinsky’s little blue dress and spending the rest of his attention on the hot pursuit of other passing skirts, imagined that sending groceries to North Korea would transform the Kim family into small-d democrats, eager to make the world a happy place. They took the groceries and continued work on splitting the atom. Barack Obama, itching to reduce America’s size in the world, was always ready to make another speech, but not much else.

No one disputes that the way forward is hard, but the threat of an out-of-control regime armed with nuclear bombs and the missiles to deliver them to faraway places, is real and the hour is late. The strategy of three presidential administrations seems fashioned by Mr. Micawber, the Dickens character who could never quite succeed at anything but was always sure that “something will turn up.” Something must, and soon.

• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.

Part II: Tough Is Not Enough

September 4, 2017

Part II: Tough Is Not Enough, 38 North, September 4, 2017

(In what fantasy world does the author live? He states,

What sort of deployments (strategic systems, missile defense, precision strike conventional weapons, conventional land, sea, special and air forces) would be a function of both military and diplomatic would need to be hammered out in the National Security Council and with regional allies.

It is inconceivable that the UN Security Council, where each permanent member has a veto, would approve any “deployment of significant and visible assets [which] would make it clear to the DPRK that it cannot compete with the US in the nuclear field regardless of the size, scope, pace and duration of that effort.”  Even were it to happen, North Korea would be told, in advance, how to prepare for whatever America and perhaps our allies will do when North Korea again tests or uses a nuke or missile. 

Please see also, North Korea Nuclear Test Puts Pressure on China and Undercuts Xi. — DM)

North Korea Nuclear Test Puts Pressure on China and Undercuts Xi

In Part I of this seriesI argued that advocates for “getting tough on North Korea” were prone to adopt inappropriate models for a harsher sanctions regime and to ignore the risk of counterproductive North Korean reactions to such sanctions. This is not an argument for no more sanctions. Given North Korean progress on its ICBM and nuclear weapons capabilities, we remain in an ongoing cycle of actions and reactions that may lead to a major war. A very vigorous political/military effort to contain and eventually eliminate the DPRK nuclear threat is essential now before the tensions and ill-considered rhetoric once again create the risk of the US and North Korea bellowing and stumbling their way into a catastrophic conflict. But sanctions should be only one element of the effort. The final push for a stabilization[1] of the North Korean nuclear and missile issue has to include the following components.

Military Deterrence and Defense

The additional deployment of significant and visible assets would make it clear to the DPRK that it cannot compete with the US in the nuclear field regardless of the size, scope, pace and duration of that effort. What sort of deployments (strategic systems, missile defense, precision strike conventional weapons, conventional land, sea, special and air forces) would be a function of both military and diplomatic would need to be hammered out in the National Security Council and with regional allies. The purpose of these forces would be both to provide diplomatic leverage and to prevent Kim from believing a military gamble would pay off.

Sanctions and Targeted Secondary Sanctions

The sanctions campaign should begin with the enforcement of UNSCRs 2270 and 2371. The initial goal would be to get full compliance with some of the difficult-to-enforce provisions, notably the caps on joint ventures and on North Korean labor exports. To this end, the US should target secondary sanctions on Chinese and other third country entities that are violating the UN resolutions. Rather than seeking to squash every sanctions-evading gnat, it should inflict significant pain on one large and vulnerable entity to have a bracing effect on many more. And, it might well create massive ripple effects if it is a key node in North Korea’s sanctions evasion network—for example, Chinese companies outlined in the recent C4ADS report—that are clearly violating UN sanctions and making extensive use of the US banking system. The US may also wish to find a similar target outside the Chinese network of businesses—perhaps one in a friendly Middle Eastern or African country that has chosen to ignore past US efforts to cut connections to Pyongyang. The US should for now avoid steps to coerce others to accept its own definition of sanctions that go beyond the resolutions. It appears that the most recent sanctions by the US Treasury against Chinese, Russian and one Namibian entity, as well as a recent freeze on some aid to Egypt, may fit the model described above.

However, it is unlikely the UN sanctions as currently written will suffice. The US should be building the case now for significant sanctions tightening if North Korea does not shift its current direction. This should best be done in steps, perhaps starting with the change of the labor and investment caps and moving to a full ban as a first iteration with the dusted off version of UNSCR 661 as the final alternative to military conflict. As the risk of conflict moves closer, the US will have to consider when secondary sanctions as a coercive mechanism for third countries needs to be deployed more widely. This is a high-risk enterprise in an already risky situation, but when stacked up against nuclear war in Asia, surely secondary sanctions are preferable.

Many Tracks of Diplomacy

These tough military and sanctions components will do nothing but open the door to miscalculation and war if other “softer” components are ignored or—more likely—mishandled. A stabilization of the Korean nuclear and missile issue is going to require multilateral diplomacy—and only the US has the ability to be at the center of this effort. It cannot subcontract the effort primarily to China. The PRC does not have the entre with some of the players, nor could it speak for the US to the most difficult audience of all: Pyongyang. These rings of diplomatic activity have existed in one form or another for many years, but they will need to be greatly invigorated and placed in the service of a clear set of policy objectives. These rings include:

  • US-ROK and US-Japan: This ring will need to create a solid front on possible military deterrence force deployments and on a sanctions strategy in the United Nations. The Trump administration appears to be in the middle of such an effort.
  • US-PRC: This ring is key. It needs to be removed from undisciplined and uncoordinated public commentary and shifted to sustained bilateral dialogue. Washington will need to enlist Chinese assistance both to create sanctions pressure on Pyongyang and to generate multilateral negotiations and a viable US-DPRK diplomatic channel. The US cannot expect pressure without political dialogue and Beijing cannot expect dialogue without real pressure on Pyongyang. The less we hear about the content of this channel (not to mention the US-DPRK channel) in public the better.
  • UN Security Council: Iraq sanctions failed when P-5 unity in the UNSC failed. The Trump Administration deserves credit for maintaining P-5 unity with the passage of UNSCR 2371, but this will have to be the first of many efforts in the Council.
  • Six Party (US, ROK, China, Russia, Japan and DPRK): At some point this channel will have to generate the political agreements and the framework for a settlement. There is nothing sacred about this particular forum or format, but something like it will have to be active and available for the formal public structure of a diplomatic settlement.
  • A direct US-DPRK channel: With one exception in the second term of the George W. Bush administration, the most rapid and extensive progress I have seen in over 28 years of interchange with North Korea over the nuclear issue has always taken place in a US-DPRK bilateral channel. The potential causes of war lie between Washington and Pyongyang. The US would be well advised to put together a small, tight, empowered negotiating team to create a channel for bilateral discussions. If the leak-prone and undisciplined Trump administration could manage to do so without us all hearing about it, so much the better.

Orchestrating this diplomacy will be one of the most complex challenges of the past 50 years. It is unclear whether the US State Department—suffering from several levels of missing leadership, low morale and persistent and unhelpful interference from the White House—is up to the task. But a way will have to be found to perform it if there is to be success on this issue.

Clarity, Discipline and Accountability in Public Commentary

US diplomacy during the recent dust-up with North Korea over its July ICBM tests was clumsy and amateurish: the incendiary rhetoric coming out of the White House needlessly escalated tensions and the uncoordinated and incoherent public messaging sowed confusion among our allies over US goals and intentions. That said, it did signal that the United States was approaching the limit of its patience over North Korean missile developments. Nevertheless, a policy vacuum continues to exist.

The United States has not made clear to Pyongyang, the American public, or its allies how it would respond to North Korean nuclear intimidation or aggression. There may be a place for strategic ambiguity in deterrence policy under some circumstances but not strategic incoherence. As a result of the loose and imprecise US rhetoric and mixed messaging, all parties are groping for an understanding of what might trigger nuclear conflict in Korea and beyond. To end this confusion and uncertainty, an authoritative figure such as the Secretary of State or Defense should give a policy speech which lays out for the American public, our allies, the Chinese and the North Koreans what American nuclear deterrence policy is vis-a-vis North Korea—and then the White House needs to discipline itself and other agencies to hew scrupulously to this script in all their public messaging on the policy.

The speech or the press backgrounding around it should also designate a single, high level official who would be accountable for the North Korean issue; this is simply not an issue that can survive current White House tong wars, presidential pique or bureaucratic backstabbing. This speech will also be the best place to signal that toughness will be accompanied by dialogue. It needs to open the door to real negotiations with a concrete proposal. This could be done through a proposal to reopen Six Party Talks or through a prearranged signal to Pyongyang that certain words in the speech are an invitation to a private authoritative back-channel discussion.

Goals and Trade Bait

The Obama administration’s efforts on North Korea foundered on a couple of rocks. The first was its inability or unwillingness to commit political capital to an issue that was highly controversial, with a very small (or nonexistent) solution set and a timeline that was less pressing than the Iran nuclear issue. The second was that the only goal for resolving or even trying to resolve the crisis that could garner consensus support was complete DPRK denuclearization. However, given the Obama administration’s unwillingness to invest fully in the issue, the White House’s highly constrained room for political maneuvering and Pyongyang’s commitment to its nuclear strategy, the goal of denuclearization became an obstacle to even starting a process for dealing with Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile progress.

Denuclearization remains a worthy goal and it is the only one that preserves the global nonproliferation regime and the long-term security of the US and its allies. But the first goal of renewed diplomatic engagement needs to be more focused and urgent: to stabilize peace in Northeast Asia and to prevent a stumble into a nuclearized second Korean War. Achieving this goal, by definition, will require North Korea to put limits on its ICBM program, which is the essential immediate need for American security policy. There are interim steps that would be of value in preserving peace and security. The parties might wish to develop mechanisms to prevent accidental war. It might also be a worthy tactical goal to create geographic limits on North Korean missile testing targets, thus putting US territories like Guam and Japanese waters off limits. The US might, at some point, trade off a particular sanction in return for a firm ICBM testing ban or moratorium or a halt to nuclear tests.

At no point should the US take ultimate denuclearization off the table, but it is necessary first to identify immediate steps to stabilize what is a dangerous dynamic. The two great dangers to pursuing more modest, immediate goals will be the accusation the US has “accepted” a nuclear DPRK and the concessions the DPRK may want. Sanctions should be considered legitimate items to trade. Our alliances should not. Our political relationship with the DPRK—including at some point a peace treaty ending the Korean War—should be legitimate points of discussion. Tangible payments to the DPRK should not, given the unfortunate experiences the ROK and US had with such payments in past agreements.

Conclusion

In a policy with any hope of resolving US and global concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat, sanctions play an important but supporting role. The key to a successful effort to deal with the North Korean threat without war is a combination of military deterrence, sanctions, a complex diplomatic offensive with clear and realistic short-term goals, and perhaps most importantly, a disciplined, clear public elucidation of US deterrence and diplomatic policy for Korea. The “tough” part of this approach (military deterrence and sanctions) is well within the reach of the Trump administration. Whether it has the personnel, structure and capacity for discipline for the diplomatic and public components of the effort is yet unproven.


  1. [1]

    Stabilization is chosen deliberately in this sentence. Denuclearization should be the long term stated goal of the effort but that goal should be placed in the same context as “general and complete disarmament” as used in Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It is a legitimate goal, but one that is far over the horizon. The key goal at this moment is to halt momentum towards having North Korean nuclear weapons capable of reaching the US homeland.

Haley Says ‘No Value’ in Another UN Resolution Against North Korea: ‘The Time for Talk Is Over’

July 31, 2017

Haley Says ‘No Value’ in Another UN Resolution Against North Korea: ‘The Time for Talk Is Over’ Washington Free Beacon , July 31, 2017

( Sounds like serious shit… – JW )

Nikki Haley / Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday that she is ready to take action and not just hold more talks following North Korea’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch.

Haley released a statement denying that the U.S. was seeking to form an emergency session at the U.N. She said that it would be useless and even counterproductive to further sanction the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un without action.

“There is no point in having an emergency session if it produces nothing of consequence,” she said. “North Korea is already subject to numerous Security Council resolutions that they violate with impunity and that are not complied with by all U.N. Member States.”

“An additional security council resolution that does not significantly increase the international pressure on North Korea is of no value,” Haley said. “In fact, it is worse than nothing, because it sends the message to the North Korean dictator that the international community is unwilling to seriously challenge him.”

She directly addressed China, the regime’s closest ally, and said that Beijing must intervene. China has insisted that it is not responsible for North Korea, even as the U.S. has accused the Chinese leadership of propping up Pyongyang.

“China must decide whether it is finally willing to take this vital step. The time for talk is over,” Haley said. “The danger the North Korean regime poses to international peace is now clear to all.”

President Donald Trump also focused his Twitter fire on China. He said on Saturday that China does nothing on North Korea despite having “easy” options to “solve this problem.”

I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet…

…they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!

China hit back on Monday after Trump’s tweets. The Chinese Foreign Ministry, in a statement sent to Reuters, said the international community needs to work together to address the North Korean nuclear issue and that China is not responsible for Pyongyang’s aggression.

South Korea announced Saturday that it will begin talking with the Trump administration about expanding the country’s nuclear capabilities. The Chinese have opposed any actions that would put Seoul in control of nuclear weapons.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also told reporters that the Trump administration promised to “take all necessary measures to protect” Japan.

North Korea launched its latest test missile into Japanese waters on Friday.

Waiting for North Korea’s Next Nuclear Test

May 28, 2017

Waiting for North Korea’s Next Nuclear Test, PJMedia, Claudia Rosett, May 27, 2017

(To the extent that history is a good predictor of the future, more sanctions — even if enforced briefly — won’t work. Regime change, maybe. But how can we find a suitable replacement for Kim Chi-un Kim Jong-un? Has the recent high-level defector been asked? It would be stupid to let the Norks know whether he has been and, even worse, what, if anything, he said because anyone he suggested would be killed. No matter how much the leakers and media would like to know, secrecy is absolutely necessary. –DM)

In this undated photo distributed by the North Korean government Monday, May 22, 2017, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the test launch of a solid-fuel “Pukguksong-2” at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

The threats from North Korea keep rising — not only its nuclear program, but such matters as its cyber warfare projects, plus the example Pyongyang continues to set of how a malign and predatory tyranny can survive by arming itself with the world’s most destructive weapons and threatening liberally to use them. We should have no doubt that Iran and others are taking notes.

What’s certain is this: None of this will be resolved by America writing off regime change as the real goal in Pyongyang while waiting to respond with another stack of UN sanctions, however neatly pre-negotiated, to North Korea’s next nuclear test.

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Just last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the United Nations Security Council that the era of letting North Korea call the shots was over. Commenting on a record in which North Korea has carried out five nuclear tests since 2006, two of them just last year, Tillerson said: “For too long the international community has been reactive in addressing North Korea.” He added, “Those days must come to an end. Failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences.”

Yet here we are, with Reuters reporting, based on a news conference held Friday in Beijing by senior State Department official Susan Thornton, that the U.S. is “looking at discussing with China a new Security Council resolution on pre-negotiated measures to reduce delays in any response to further nuclear tests or other provocations from the North.”

In other words, the U.S. is waiting to react to North Korea’s next nuclear test, which North Korean officials have already threatened to carry out, and for which preparations have been visibly underway.

With the variation that the diplomatic response (providing China agrees) would be “pre-negotiated,” this sounds disturbingly similar to the ritual that President Obama’s administration dolled up under the fatuous label of “strategic patience.” The result, on Obama’s watch, was that North Korea carried out four of its five nuclear tests to date, and accelerated its missile program to include over the past three years — as The Wall Street Journal reported recently — the launches of “more major missiles than in the three previous decades combined.”

The Obama ritual went like this: North Korea would carry out a forbidden nuclear test (in 2009, 2013, and two in 2016). The U.S. would turn to the UN Security Council, which after a period of closed-door wrangling would respond by approving yet another sanctions resolution, which would then be advertised by the U.S. as tough… tougher… toughest. Whatever.

Recall America’s former ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, declaring after the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2270 in March 2016 (in response to North Korea’s fourth nuclear test) that “this resolution is so comprehensive, there are many provisions that leave no gap, no window.” That resolution was followed last September by North Korea’s fifth nuclear test, to which the UN responded by adding to the gapless, windowless sanctions resolution #2270 the even more gapless and windowless resolution #2321.

One might reasonably ask: Why reserve all those ever tougher sanctions for North Korea’s next nuclear test, or the one after that? If gapless, windowless sanctions have yet more holes that need plugging, why not do it all now?

If I might hazard a guess, the obstacle is not solely that veto-wielding permanent Security Council members China and Russia have no serious interest in trying to throttle North Korea’s Kim regime. Even when they vote for those ever tougher UN sanctions, they have been, to put it generously, highly casual about enforcing them. On the evidence, China — despite its public expressions of disapproval and disappointment over each North Korean nuclear test — has nonetheless, for decades now, allowed North Korea to proceed. It is past time to ask quite seriously whether Beijing (never mind its public posturing) reached a quiet decision quite some years ago that China can live comfortably enough with a nuclear-armed North Korea that dedicates itself to bedeviling such leading democracies as South Korea, America and Japan.

Nor is the problem solely that sanctions, to whatever degree they are attempted, have virtually no chance of forcing North Korea into a good-faith deal to give up its long-established, deeply entrenched nuclear program. In previous talks and deals (1994, 2005, 2007, as well as President Obama’s attempted 2012 so-called Leap Day missile-freeze deal), Pyongyang racked up an unbroken record of lying, cheating, pocketing the gains and carrying on with its threats and WMD projects.

In the prime case in which sanctions did seem to get serious traction — when U.S. sanctions persuaded Macau in 2005 to freeze North Korea-linked accounts in Banco Delta Asia — North Korea went ahead in 2006 with its first nuclear test, then came to the bargaining table for a deal in 2007, and took to the cleaners the eager diplomats of President Bush’s “soft power” second term.  The antics of that era included State Department special envoy Chris Hill demanding the help of the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve to transfer back to North Korea, via the banking system (at North Korea’s behest), some $25 million in tainted funds that had been frozen at Banco Delta Asia in Macau; a U.S. handout of millions to pay Pyongyang for the Potemkin spectacle in 2008 of blowing up a dispensable cooling tower at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex; and the removal of North Korea from the U.S. government’s blacklist of terror-sponsoring states (a concession which to this day the State Department has yet to remedy). The 2007 deal fell apart as Bush was leaving office, and in May of 2009 North Korea welcomed Obama’s presidency by conducting its second nuclear test.

Today, with North Korea working at speed toward an ability to target the United States, the U.S. fallback is to try to pressure China, under threat of sanctions that would hurt China itself, to defang North Korea. That approach allows for plenty of employment in Washington, in the debates, design and attempts to apply such sanctions. But somewhere out there lies the question of how to sustain any such approach, on the ground (and the seas) in Asia, and where it might actually lead. Sanctions tend to erode over time, as their targets adapt. If North Korea is richly capable of the duplicities that have repeatedly foiled nuclear negotiators, China has vastly more reach and resources available for its own gambits. Even if the ever-tougher-sanctions approach leads to a deal, who or what then guarantees (the deep flaws of Obama’s Iran nuclear deal  come to mind) that once the strictures are loosened, North Korea, or China, would abide by that deal? (Forget the UN, which has to date failed abysmally to stop North Korea’s nuclear program, and which relies on individual member states to police their own enforcement of sanctions.)

The further fallback is the threat of U.S.-led military force, which is what the Trump administration is now turning to in a number of ways, including the deployment of a third aircraft carrier group as part of the “armada” Trump is sending to the Western Pacific. Part of the idea here is also to put China on notice that the U.S. is serious.

The problem here is that to be effective, military threats need to be credible. After eight years of Obama’s “patience,” following North Korea’s successes with its nuclear extortion racket going back to the early 1990s, the consistent signal from three U.S. presidents — Obama, Bush and Clinton — has been that the U.S. for all its vast firepower would rather be snookered at the bargaining table, or simply do nothing, than actually risk a military strike that could turn into a hot war with North Korea.

It doesn’t help that on May 19 Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Pentagon reporters that any military solution to North Korea would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale,” so “our effort is to work with the U.N., work with China, work with Japan, work with South Korea to try to find a way out of this situation.” Nor does it help that on May 23, 64 Democratic lawmakers sent a public letter to Trump, asking for details of his plans for a negotiated solution of “the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula,” and warning Trump against including in any such plans an “ill-advised military component.” If — after the agonies of the 1950-1953 Korean War, and in view of North Korea’s current military threat to Seoul and increasingly dangerous arsenal — the U.S. is not prepared to go to war again to stop North Korea, then the prudent course would be at least to keep quiet about it. Otherwise, the result is to neuter any U.S. threat of force, further emboldening North Korea.

Which brings us to the core problem, the grand dilemma looming behind all the machinations described above. There is really only one way out of this situation, only one real solution, and that is an end to the Kim regime in North Korea. On humanitarian grounds alone, the fall or overthrow of the Kim regime would be fully justified, and is long, long overdue. In view of North Korea’s rising threats to others, its growing arsenal, its record of peddling munitions to the likes of Syria and Iran, and its unbroken record of abusing any and all deals, there is no other answer. The Kim regime has to go.

But getting rid of the Kim regime is in itself risky. However it might happen, whether Kim’s regime might be destroyed by military force, throttled by sanctions, overthrown from within, or somehow shoved from power through some combination of these factors, no one knows exactly what might follow, or how things might then play out.

And so, with variations that have repeatedly failed to end the threat, one U.S. administration after another has defaulted to a “status quo” in which the effort is not to get rid of the Kim regime, but to manage it — as if it were some sort of highly unpleasant chronic medical condition.

Thus did  Tillerson tell the UN Security Council meeting last month, at its special meeting on North Korea, that “our goal is not regime change, nor do we desire to threaten the North Korean people or destabilize the Asia Pacific region.”

Newsflash: The Asia Pacific region is already being destabilized, by nuclear-arming North Korea itself, as well as China — with its own military buildup, its island-building territorial grabs offshore, and its threats to freedom of navigation. What we are witnessing is not a durable status quo, but a trajectory, in which a U.S. impulse for peace in our time keeps steering us toward cataclysm ahead. What Obama achieved with his “strategic patience” was to postpone the day of reckoning long enough to hand off a threat grown vastly worse to his successor.

How this gets resolved in any way favorable, or even remotely safe, for America and its democratic allies is a hideous conundrum. But the situation right now is very far from safe. The threats from North Korea keep rising — not only its nuclear program, but such matters as its cyber warfare projects, plus the example Pyongyang continues to set of how a malign and predatory tyranny can survive by arming itself with the world’s most destructive weapons and threatening liberally to use them. We should have no doubt that Iran and others are taking notes.

What’s certain is this: None of this will be resolved by America writing off regime change as the real goal in Pyongyang while waiting to respond with another stack of UN sanctions, however neatly pre-negotiated, to North Korea’s next nuclear test.