Fred Henneke, Attorney & Counselor-At-Law
After North Korea’s peace initiative during the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics, it appears the North Koreans and the South Koreans are engaged in actual talks. Kim Jung Un has stated that he is willing to discuss ending the North Korean’s nuclear weaponry program. Is this a real breakthrough or just another stall tactic by the North, repeating a pattern that has served them well for over 20 years? Only time will tell.
So, what brought about this sudden change of heart by Un? A number of factors:
1. The sanctions are really starting to bite, especially the most recent ones that allow the US and other nations to stop and board ships that might be transporting banned material to or from North Korea;
2. China’s decision to limit even further oil to North Korea and the purchase or transshipment of North Korean coal, the North’s largest source of world currency.
3. President Trump’s bellicose responses to the North’s continued nuclear and missile testing. Unlike previous presidents, who tended to wring their hands and pronounce meaningless threats in the face of North Korea’s nuclear ventures, President Trump fired back in clear language. The President’s intentional disdain for traditional diplomatic norms and his evident unpredictable nature must concern Kim.
, 4. Despite some economic improvements, North Korea remain a grossly impoverished nation.
i also believe that South Korea has demonstrated a real desire for meaningful talks. The talk of war on the Korea peninsula brings home the unfathomable destruction that would be rained upon the South. Furthermore, so long as the US and North Korea stand off with the South helpless but caught in the middle, meaningful talks are the only way out of that box.
Do I think that Un will totally give up his nuclear weapon program? NO, but there is an opportunity to limit it and even roll it back some.
So,what would that take? Un wants to be greater than Kim Il Sung, his grandfather and the founder of North Korea, and Kim Jong Pil, his father and the “Great Leader” for many years. War, and the inevitable destruction of North Korea, is not the solution.. What Un craves is (a) recognition by the US and the international community as the leader of a “great” nation, (b) the lifting of the sanctions and financial support to boost his country out of abject poverty, (c) the demilitarization of the peninsula, or at least the withdrawal of US troops, and (d) a formal peace treaty to end the Korean War. Will he get all he want?. Probably not. But, some combination could lead to defusing the most volatile international situation facing the US today.