Connect with us

Latest

Analysis

News

The US risks disaster with North Korea; it must open talks with Kim Jong-un without delay

The alternative to negotiations with North Korea is an uncontrolled nuclear arms race in the north Pacific with an adversary whose capabilities the US has repeatedly and grossly underestimated and which it knows next to nothing about.

Alexander Mercouris

Published

on

2,561 Views

On 31st July 2017 I wrote an article for The Duran in which I said that the US is overreacting to the North Korean ballistic missile tests

Here is what I wrote in that article

……though the test launches of the Hwasong-14 missile represent an impressive technical achievement – all the more so because the missile is mobile and road launched – the missile appears to be still in its development stage, with its payload apparently small and with great uncertainty as to whether the North Koreans have miniaturised their nuclear warhead technology sufficiently to arm it.  There is therefore still time before the missile enters service and does so in any quantity.

Beyond these questions there remains the overriding fact that even if North Korea does eventually field a number of operational missiles of this sort its nuclear capabilities will still be overwhelmingly dwarfed by those of the US, a fact which because of the immense industrial and technological disparity between the two powers will never change.  What that means is that unless the entire North Korean leadership – including Kim Jong-un – are intent on a bizarre form of suicide, there is no possibility of North Korea launching nuclear armed Hwasong-14 missiles at the US except in self-defence.

The US can therefore afford to take these North Korean missile tests in its stride.  By contrast threatening military action against North Korea – or worse still actually engaging in it – is the one thing that might actually provoke North Korea to strike against the US – or more realistically against one of the US’s allies – of which in all other respects no risk exists.

In the short time since those words were written it has become clear that North Korea’s capabilities have been grossly underestimated.  There are now reports that the Defense Intelligence Agency – the US intelligence agency once headed by General Flynn – has reported to the US National Security Council that North Korea has successfully miniaturised a nuclear warhead and developed a re-entry vehicle for its Hwasong-14 missile.  Supposedly North Korea also now has a stockpile of up to 60 nuclear bombs – far more than previously thought.

If this information is correct then the North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme has advanced much faster and much further than anyone – including the Chinese and the Russians – anticipated, further confirming my longstanding point that the perennial claim that the country is a backward economic basket-case simply cannot be true (see below).

However the main contention I made in my article of 31st July 2017 remains true.  Even if North Korea has indeed developed a useable nuclear weapons capability which it is able to launch against the continental US – or against the US’s far flung network of military bases like Guam – sooner than anyone expected, its nuclear weapons capability is still overwhelmingly dwarfed by that of the US and will always be so.

For North Korea to launch an unprovoked attack on the US would therefore be an act of national suicide, both on the part of its people and its leadership, and there is nothing to suggest that North Korea’s leaders are considering it.  On the contrary the consistent explanation the North Koreans give for their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme is that it is defensive – intended to deter a US attack upon themselves – and – as I have repeatedly pointed out – that is the only explanation which makes sense.

Here is what I wrote about North Korean intentions on 29th April 2017, during the previous occasion when relations between the US and North Korea seemed to be veering towards crisis

What purpose then does the North Korean nuclear weapons programme have?

An obvious starting point in any discussion of this issue ought to be what the North Korean government itself says.

There is a difficulty here because the political language North Korea uses comes across to a foreign ear as so rhetorically inflated and bombastic that it is sometimes difficult to take it seriously.  However this commentary in Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea’s Workers Party, explains the motivation behind North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme clearly enough

Recently, the U.S. representative to the UN, faulting the DPRK’s just measure for bolstering the nuclear deterrence, said that it may pose threat to the U.S. and several other countries and that “countries doing bad acts” like the DPRK would not sign the convention on banning nuclear weapons nor would be willing to implement it.

This is a gross distortion of the situation.

The U.S. is deliberately distorting and hyping up the situation in a bid to turn the table in its favor. The aim is to brand the DPRK as a harasser of peace, cover up its true colors as a hideous nuclear criminal and justify its moves for stifling the DPRK.

It has neither qualifications nor rights to fault the DPRK’s measures for bolstering the nuclear deterrence.It is also not entitled to trumpet about the convention on banning the nuclear weapons.

The U.S. is trying to convince the public that the world denuclearization has not been realized because of the DPRK. This is senseless rubbish shunning the historical course of why the DPRK was compelled to opt for having access to nuclear weapons and bolstering them qualitatively and quantitatively and why it became necessary for the world to have the convention on banning nuclear weapons.

It is none other than the U.S. which compelled the DPRK to have access to nuclear weapons and it is again the U.S. which persistently forced the DPRK to bolster them qualitatively and quantitatively.

The DPRK’s nuclear deterrence is not to threaten others but it is a means for self-defence to defend the sovereignty of the country from the U.S. nuclear war provocation in every aspect.

The DPRK will continue to exercise this right with dignity no matter what others may say.

(bold italics added)

In other words North Korea decided to acquire nuclear weapons not out of some fanatical desire to attack the US, or because it wants to use its nuclear weapons to conquer South Korea or to hold the entire world hostage – all of them suicidal acts of no conceivable benefit to itself – but because it feels threatened by the US.

This is both clear and logical and is in line with what is known of the recent historical record.

I repeat all this today especially because so much Western commentary seems to assume the opposite.  Here for example is a commentary which appeared on 9th August 2017 in the London Times, whose owner Rupert Murdoch is known to be close to US President Trump and which may therefore reflect his thinking or that of his advisers

The questions the US intelligence community will be asking are: what are Kim’s intentions? Does he really intend to launch a nuclear ICBM attack on an American city? If so, what does he expect to gain by doing so?

Intentions are always the most difficult part of intelligence analysis. The North Korean leader has publicly warned that he wants to attack the US. But is it just the warning of a seriously insecure, isolated leader or does he really believe the launching of an ICBM will solve his problems and bring the US to its knees?

(bold italics added)

The highlighted words straightforwardly describe North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un as wanting to attack the US and therefore as a crazed fanatic – a sort of real life Captain Ahab figure with nuclear missiles – whose hatred of the US is apparently so extreme that he is busy acquiring nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles for no other reason than because he wants to attack the US.  The implication is that unless he is stopped he will actually do so before long.

Nothing Kim Jong-un has ever said or which has been said by any other official of the North Korean government gives any reason for thinking that this is the case.  All the comments they have made – and all the surrounding facts which are known and which provide the context for these comments  – shows on the contrary that Kim Jong-un and North Korea’s other leaders are rational people and that North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme is as they say defensive, and has no other purpose other than to deter a US attack on themselves.

Given that this is so there is no reason to fear an unprovoked North Korean nuclear attack on the US or indeed on any other country – including South Korea – and there is no reason or excuse to go on talking as if there is a real risk of one.

The tragedy is that if direct talks leading to a peace treaty between the US and North Korea had taken place before the mid 2000s – as was in fact promised – they might have borne fruit by now.  In that case we would be looking at a peaceful and stable situation in the Korean Peninsula without North Korea having acquired ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons or feeling the need to do so.

Instead – because of the folly of previous US administrations, most especially of the George W. Bush and Obama administrations – North Korea now possesses both ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, and may have – though this is still disputed – the continental United States within reach.  Needless to say, that will make negotiating with North Korea leading look like a US climbdown.

Not only will that be a humiliation for the US – and one which it will not be able to conceal – but it will also be a disaster for the world’s already tattered nuclear non-proliferation regime, laboriously created by the superpowers in the 1960s, but already honoured increasingly in the breach.

To be clear, the US starting talks with North Korea now – after North Korea has acquired ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons – when the US has previously consistently refused to do so, will serve an object lesson to the whole world and to force the US to the negotiating table is to threaten it with nuclear weapons.

That is a lesson all sorts of people around the world are going to learn.  The high probability is that the result will be that what is left of the world’s nuclear non proliferation regime will collapse.  Deplorable though that prospect is – and to be clear, the uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons is a very bad and dangerous thing – it is the inevitable consequence of the reckless regime change follies the US has indulged in since the end of the Cold War.

There is however nothing now to be done about this, and the US needs to put aside its customary intransigence and fire-eating and counter-productive rhetoric and do what the Chinese are urging it to do, which is sit down and talk with North Korea now.

Apparently the North Koreans have said at a conference in Manila that they are prepared to sit down and talk – though they have reiterated that they will not under any circumstances give up the ballistic missile and nuclear weapons capability which they have so painstakingly acquired – something which should surprise no one.

The alternative is to go on as we have been doing: lurching into an uncontrolled arms race in East Asia that the US knows almost nothing about.

One of the points I have repeatedly hammered home in The Duran about the US’s conflict with North Korea is the US’s catastrophic ignorance of the country.   Here is what I said about this in my article of 29th April 2017

One of the difficulties in discussing North Korea is that knowledge of the so-called ‘hermit kingdom’ is so limited.No Western leader has ever met with Kim Jong-un, and nor at the highest level have the Chinese and Russian leaderships.  There is scarcely any knowledge of the institutional frame-work within which he works.  We do not know who his top advisers are and how he consults them.  We do not know how well-informed he is about the world or even about North Korea itself.  We do not know how intelligent he is, or if there is any institution like a Politburo or a cabinet or a Security Council which he consults.  We do not know what his exact relationship with his top civilian and military officials is.

The West’s extraordinary ignorance of the most basic facts about North Korea is shown by the fact that there is even uncertainty about the identity of the institution or institutions which control North Korea’s secret police……

It is clear however that the North Korean government, however it is organised, is efficient or at least effective, that it is in complete control of the country, and that it both makes decisions regularly and is able to enforce them across the whole country.

Just as we know next to nothing about North Korea’s government, we are similarly profoundly ill-informed about North Korea’s economy.

North Korea’s success in pursuing a ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme shows North Korea must have a significant industrial and technology base, which must encompass fields like advanced chemistry and nuclear physics.  North Korea’s success in making its own smart phones and tablets and in developing its own apparently extensive intranet (the “Kwangmyong“) suggests it must have a reasonably sophisticated computer and IT industry it can draw upon.  Pictures of Pyongyang, which appear from time to time in the Western media, show it to be a highly modern even futuristic city, a significant fact in itself even if Pyongyang is a show-case which is not representative of the whole country.

Nonetheless despite these obvious signs of industrial and technological strength and modernity there remains a widespread view that North Korea is a primitive basket-case of a country, with its people struggling in conditions barely above subsistence.

Frankly that doesn’t seem fully consistent with the known facts.

Lastly, we remain supremely ignorant of North Korea’s actual military capabilities.  Though North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests no-one outside North Korea knows how many nuclear weapons it has, or whether it possesses the means to deliver those nuclear weapons it does have.

The latest report from the US Defense Intelligence Agency, even if it exaggerates North Korean capabilities, highlights the disastrous consequences of this ignorance, and of the bad and arrogant decisions it has led to.

It turns out that North Korea may now have an intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear weapons capability bringing even Washington DC within reach that even the Chinese and the Russians thought thought it would not acquire before 2040.  A North Korean nuclear challenge that no-one outside Pyongyang imagined the US would face for another 20 years is already upon us.

At its most basic level, this is a catastrophic failure of intelligence, showing how completely wrong about North Korea at least in this respect the US and most of the rest of the outside world has been.  How do we know if instead of talks there is now an arms race that there won’t be other, possibly still more catastrophic, intelligence failures further down the line?

I will finish by quoting a famous epigram attributed to the Chinese thinker Sun Tzu

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you are a fool and will succumb in every battle

In relation to North Korea it is high time the US admitted that it doesn’t know its enemy, and there are times when I wonder whether it even knows itself.

In other words the US has been behaving like a fool, setting itself up for defeat in a conflict involving nuclear weapons where its own national territory may be at risk.  In the interests of the world and itself it is desperately important that it stops doing so.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

Clinton-Yeltsin docs shine a light on why Deep State hates Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

Bill Clinton and America ruled over Russia and Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s. Yeltsin showed little love for Russia and more interest in keeping power, and pleasing the oligarchs around him.

Then came Vladimir Putin, and everything changed.

Nearly 600 pages of memos and transcripts, documenting personal exchanges and telephone conversations between Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, were made public by the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dating from January 1993 to December 1999, the documents provide a historical account of a time when US relations with Russia were at their best, as Russia was at its weakest.

On September 8, 1999, weeks after promoting the head of the Russia’s top intelligence agency to the post of prime minister, Russian President Boris Yeltsin took a phone call from U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The new prime minister was unknown, rising to the top of the Federal Security Service only a year earlier.

Yeltsin wanted to reassure Clinton that Vladimir Putin was a “solid man.”

Yeltsin told Clinton….

“I would like to tell you about him so you will know what kind of man he is.”

“I found out he is a solid man who is kept well abreast of various subjects under his purview. At the same time, he is thorough and strong, very sociable. And he can easily have good relations and contact with people who are his partners. I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the nearly 600 pages of transcripts documenting the calls and personal conversations between then U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, released last month. A strong Clinton and a very weak Yeltsin underscore a warm and friendly relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

Then Vladimir Putin came along and decided to lift Russia out of the abyss, and things changed.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel

Here are five must-read Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges from with the 600 pages released by the Clinton Library.

Via RT

Clinton sends ‘his people’ to get Yeltsin elected

Amid unceasing allegations of nefarious Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, the Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges reveal how the US government threw its full weight behind Boris – in Russian parliamentary elections as well as for the 1996 reelection campaign, which he approached with 1-digit ratings.

For example, a transcript from 1993 details how Clinton offered to help Yeltsin in upcoming parliamentary elections by selectively using US foreign aid to shore up support for the Russian leader’s political allies.

“What is the prevailing attitude among the regional leaders? Can we do something through our aid package to send support out to the regions?” a concerned Clinton asked.

Yeltsin liked the idea, replying that “this kind of regional support would be very useful.” Clinton then promised to have “his people” follow up on the plan.

In another exchange, Yeltsin asks his US counterpart for a bit of financial help ahead of the 1996 presidential election: “Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of $2.5 billion,” he said. Yeltsin added that he needed the money in order to pay pensions and government wages – obligations which, if left unfulfilled, would have likely led to his political ruin. Yeltsin also asks Clinton if he could “use his influence” to increase the size of an IMF loan to assist him during his re-election campaign.

Yeltsin questions NATO expansion

The future of NATO was still an open question in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and conversations between Clinton and Yeltsin provide an illuminating backdrop to the current state of the curiously offensive ‘defensive alliance’ (spoiler alert: it expanded right up to Russia’s border).

In 1995, Yeltsin told Clinton that NATO expansion would lead to “humiliation” for Russia, noting that many Russians were fearful of the possibility that the alliance could encircle their country.

“It’s a new form of encirclement if the one surviving Cold War bloc expands right up to the borders of Russia. Many Russians have a sense of fear. What do you want to achieve with this if Russia is your partner? They ask. I ask it too: Why do you want to do this?” Yeltsin asked Clinton.

As the documents show, Yeltsin insisted that Russia had “no claims on other countries,” adding that it was “unacceptable” that the US was conducting naval drills near Crimea.

“It is as if we were training people in Cuba. How would you feel?” Yeltsin asked. The Russian leader then proposed a “gentleman’s agreement” that no former Soviet republics would join NATO.

Clinton refused the offer, saying: “I can’t make the specific commitment you are asking for. It would violate the whole spirit of NATO. I’ve always tried to build you up and never undermine you.”

NATO bombing of Yugoslavia turns Russia against the West

Although Clinton and Yeltsin enjoyed friendly relations, NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia tempered Moscow’s enthusiastic partnership with the West.

“Our people will certainly from now have a bad attitude with regard to America and with NATO,” the Russian president told Clinton in March 1999. “I remember how difficult it was for me to try and turn the heads of our people, the heads of the politicians towards the West, towards the United States, but I succeeded in doing that, and now to lose all that.”

Yeltsin urged Clinton to renounce the strikes, for the sake of “our relationship” and “peace in Europe.”

“It is not known who will come after us and it is not known what will be the road of future developments in strategic nuclear weapons,” Yeltsin reminded his US counterpart.

But Clinton wouldn’t cede ground.

“Milosevic is still a communist dictator and he would like to destroy the alliance that Russia has built up with the US and Europe and essentially destroy the whole movement of your region toward democracy and go back to ethnic alliances. We cannot allow him to dictate our future,” Clinton told Yeltsin.

Yeltsin asks US to ‘give Europe to Russia’

One exchange that has been making the rounds on Twitter appears to show Yeltsin requesting that Europe be “given” to Russia during a meeting in Istanbul in 1999. However, it’s not quite what it seems.

“I ask you one thing,” Yeltsin says, addressing Clinton. “Just give Europe to Russia. The US is not in Europe. Europe should be in the business of Europeans.”

However, the request is slightly less sinister than it sounds when put into context: The two leaders were discussing missile defense, and Yeltsin was arguing that Russia – not the US – would be a more suitable guarantor of Europe’s security.

“We have the power in Russia to protect all of Europe, including those with missiles,” Yeltsin told Clinton.

Clinton on Putin: ‘He’s very smart’

Perhaps one of the most interesting exchanges takes place when Yeltsin announces to Clinton his successor, Vladimir Putin.

In a conversation with Clinton from September 1999, Yeltsin describes Putin as “a solid man,” adding: “I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

A month later, Clinton asks Yeltsin who will win the Russian presidential election.

“Putin, of course. He will be the successor to Boris Yeltsin. He’s a democrat, and he knows the West.”

“He’s very smart,” Clinton remarks.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

New Satellite Images Reveal Aftermath Of Israeli Strikes On Syria; Putin Accepts Offer to Probe Downed Jet

The images reveal the extent of destruction in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport.

Published

on

Via Zerohedge


An Israeli satellite imaging company has released satellite photographs that reveal the extent of Monday night’s attack on multiple locations inside Syria.

ImageSat International released them as part of an intelligence report on a series of Israeli air strikes which lasted for over an hour and resulted in Syrian missile defense accidentally downing a Russian surveillance plane that had 15 personnel on board.

The images reveal the extent of destruction on one location struck early in attack in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport. On Tuesday Israel owned up to carrying out the attack in a rare admission.

Syrian official SANA news agency reported ten people injured in the attacks carried out of military targets near three major cities in Syria’s north.

The Times of Israel, which first reported the release of the new satellite images, underscores the rarity of Israeli strikes happening that far north and along the coast, dangerously near Russian positions:

The attack near Latakia was especially unusual because the port city is located near a Russian military base, the Khmeimim Air Force base. The base is home to Russian jet planes and an S-400 aerial defense system. According to Arab media reports, Israel has rarely struck that area since the Russians arrived there.

The Russian S-400 system was reportedly active during the attack, but it’s difficult to confirm or assess the extent to which Russian missiles responded during the strikes.

Three of the released satellite images show what’s described as an “ammunition warehouse” that appears to have been completely destroyed.

The IDF has stated their airstrikes targeted a Syrian army facility “from which weapons-manufacturing systems were supposed to be transferred to Iran and Hezbollah.” This statement came after the IDF expressed “sorrow” for the deaths of Russian airmen, but also said responsibility lies with the “Assad regime.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to express regret over the incident while offering to send his air force chief to Russia with a detailed report — something which Putin agreed to.

According to Russia’s RT News, “Major-General Amikam Norkin will arrive in Moscow on Thursday, and will present the situation report on the incident, including the findings of the IDF inquiry regarding the event and the pre-mission information the Israeli military was so reluctant to share in advance.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry condemned the “provocative actions by Israel as hostile” and said Russia reserves “the right to an adequate response” while Putin has described the downing of the Il-20 recon plane as likely the result of a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances” and downplayed the idea of a deliberate provocation, in contradiction of the initial statement issued by his own defense ministry.

Pro-government Syrians have reportedly expressed frustration this week that Russia hasn’t done more to respond militarily to Israeli aggression; however, it appears Putin may be sidestepping yet another trap as it’s looking increasingly likely that Israel’s aims are precisely geared toward provoking a response in order to allow its western allies to join a broader attack on Damascus that could result in regime change.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

“Transphobic” Swedish Professor May Lose Job After Noting Biological Differences Between Sexes

A university professor in Sweden is under investigation after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded”

Published

on

Via Zerohedge


A university professor in Sweden is under investigation for “anti-feminism” and “transphobia” after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded” and that genders cannot be regarded as “social constructs alone,” reports Academic Rights Watch.

For his transgression, Germund Hesslow – a professor of neuroscience at Lund University – who holds dual PhDs in philosophy and neurophysiology, may lose his job – telling RT that a “full investigation” has been ordered, and that there “have been discussions about trying to stop the lecture or get rid of me, or have someone else give the lecture or not give the lecture at all.”

“If you answer such a question you are under severe time pressure, you have to be extremely brief — and I used wording which I think was completely innocuous, and that apparently the student didn’t,” Hesslow said.

Hesslow was ordered to attend a meeting by Christer Larsson, chairman of the program board for medical education, after a female student complained that Hesslow had a “personal anti-feminist agenda.” He was asked to distance himself from two specific comments; that gay women have a “male sexual orientation” and that the sexual orientation of transsexuals is “a matter of definition.”

The student’s complaint reads in part (translated):

I have also heard from senior lecturers that Germund Hesslow at the last lecture expressed himself transfobically. In response to a question of transexuallism, he said something like “sex change is a fly”. Secondly, it is outrageous because there may be students during the lecture who are themselves exposed to transfobin, but also because it may affect how later students in their professional lives meet transgender people. Transpersonals already have a high level of overrepresentation in suicide statistics and there are already major shortcomings in the treatment of transgender in care, should not it be countered? How does this kind of statement coincide with the university’s equal treatment plan? What has this statement given for consequences? What has been done for this to not be repeated? –Academic Rights Watch

After being admonished, Hesslow refused to distance himself from his comments, saying that he had “done enough” already and didn’t have to explain and defend his choice of words.

At some point, one must ask for a sense of proportion among those involved. If it were to become acceptable for students to record lectures in order to find compromising formulations and then involve faculty staff with meetings and long letters, we should let go of the medical education altogether,” Hesslow said in a written reply to Larsson.

He also rejected the accusation that he had a political agenda – stating that his only agenda was to let scientific factnot new social conventions, dictate how he teaches his courses.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending