‘North Korea won’: US urges to abandon denuclearization ‘farce’

Experts recommend the US should admit defeat in its campaign to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and focus on risk reduction and arms control measures.

On Tuesday, North Korea fired a Ballistic missile over Japan for the first time since 2017, sparking fresh condemnation from Washington and its allies.

The US and South Korea responded by conducting joint exercises and firing missiles into the Sea of ​​Japan, while the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, conducted a a rare turn to return to the waters east of the Korean peninsula after a recent visit.

But analysts say the military gestures and belligerent rhetoric emanating from Washington, Seoul and Tokyo negate the fact that they have run out of ideas and options to contain. North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons program.

Experts say the United States and its allies should focus on agreeing with Pyongyang on steps to reduce the risk of conflict on the Korean peninsula, even if doing so is implicitly accepting that North Korea Tien will continue to possess nuclear weapons.

Ankit Panda, a nuclear weapons expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said: “Consistency in denuclearization is not only a failure, it has become a farce.

“They check, we respond, we get on with our lives,” Panda added. “North Korea has already won. It is a bitter pill, but at some point we will have to swallow it. “

Four South Korean Air Force F-15Ks and four U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets fly over South Korea for drills in response to a North Korean missile test.
South Korea and the United States conducted joint drills in response to North Korea’s latest weapons test. Analysts say an arms race in Asia makes it unlikely for Pyongyang to agree to denuclearization © South Korea’s Defense Ministry / AFP / Getty Images

US and South Korean officials stress that even tacit acceptance of North Korea’s status as a nuclear weapons state would have dangerous consequences for nuclear nonproliferation efforts. globally.

Last month, Kim Jong Un amending North Korea’s nuclear doctrine to allow preemptive warnings. The previous policy allowed the use of nuclear weapons only in a second strike scenario.

“There will never be any declaration of ‘giving up our nuclear weapons’ or ‘denuclearisation’, nor any form of negotiation or negotiation to meet the conditions. of the other party,” Kim declared. “As long as nuclear weapons exist on earth and imperialism remains. . . Our path to nuclear power will not stop. “

“The door to a denuclearization-led process is closed,” said Jenny Town, 38 North program director at the Stimson Center think tank in Washington.

The town points out that an arms race is intensifying in East Asia and increasing tensions between the US and China. “It’s unrealistic to think that amid all this, North Korea would consider denuclearization when everyone else, including South Korea, is arming,” she said.

“Once relations are better and geopolitical trends shift in a more positive direction, maybe we can talk about the nuclear program again. But that seems too far-fetched. “

Andrei Lankov, a history professor at Kookmin University in Seoul and a prominent North Korea expert, said, “Kim’s message was as follows: ‘We have nuclear weapons, we will have them forever. and we will use them as we see fit. “

Lankov argues that Pyongyang will not continue negotiations as long as possible Washington maintains North Korea’s denuclearization even as a far-fetched policy goal, while Congress and the American public will accept nothing less than a North Korean surrender on this issue.

“The American public wants its government to pursue a dangerous and unattainable dream, but North Korea has made it clear that it will not play this game,” Lankov said. “The only way to convince them to look at the restrictions on their nuclear weapons is to pay them dubiously for it.”

North Korea has avoided diplomacy since 2019, when the last summit between Kim and then-US President Donald Trump collapsed in Hanoi.

In January 2021, Kim outlined the capabilities he plans to acquire within five years, including tactical nuclear weapons, guided missiles, solid-fuel ICBMs, and nuclear submarines.

Weapons experts say the North Korean regime has made significant progress on many fronts, despite tough international sanctions, and that Kim sealed off the country’s borders in 2020 in response. with the coronavirus pandemic.

Cooperation between permanent members of the United Nations Security Council on North Korea also broke down following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, further reducing pressure on Pyongyang.

North Korea has also grasped Russia’s international isolation from foster closer relationships with Moscow. On Wednesday, the Security Council did not condemn Pyongyang’s missile launch after Russia and China blamed Washington for ignoring North Korea’s security concerns.

“Most senior U.S. officials working on North Korea policy now recognize that denuclearization is not going to happen,” said Chad O’Carroll, founder of consulting firm Korea Risk Group. , but cannot or will not make it public.”

Panda noted that policymakers should be particularly concerned by North Korea’s development of low-yield tactical nuclear weapons that can be deployed against South Korea.

“A nuclear war might end with an ICBM, but it’s more likely to start with a tactical nuclear bomb – they’re extremely dangerous and unsettling,” Panda said. “This could be the possibility Kim is waiting for before turning to nuclear coercion or territorial revisionism against the South.”

He said the longer Washington waits before acknowledging the fact that North Korea’s nuclear weapons are here, the larger and more sophisticated Pyongyang’s arsenal becomes, and the cost Kim can extract in a single year. Future negotiations are inevitable.

“It’s not in the national interest of the United States to let this flare up,” Panda said.


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