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Nuclear brinkmanship as practised by North Korea

any opportunity for a preemptive strike against the North’s nuclear sites has been lost, for fear it would prompt an attack on Seoul and other parts of the South. Now, the threat of destruction raining down on the northern parts of South Korea is too high a price. Consequently, the only option remaining is diplomacy.

flag-N-KoreaThe art of North Korea’s nuclear brinkmanship, Guardian, Robert E McCoy for NK News, part of the North Korea network, 29 May 15 A string of recent missile launches may have been faked, but the country is a nuclear power that requires diplomatic engagement argues Robert E McCoy 

North Korea’s press office announced earlier this month that Kim Jong-un had personally supervised the firing of a new submarine-based missile.

The news was soon followed by more footage from state media claiming to evidence another ballistic missile launch, but experts have since voiced doubts over the authenticity of the images.

But these stories are just the latest steps in a routine North Korea has long been playing with the west.

Despite often engaging in deals and agreements with western powers hoping to halt its nuclear proliferation, this “dance” of negotiations has so far failed to halt the DPRK’s military development…………….

Perhaps it’s time for diplomacy to try a different tack?

The routine begins

Troubles with North Korea began in 1989 when it was first suspected of developing a nuclear bomb, despite having signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty just three years earlier……………

events reveal a pattern, and suggests that North Korea has developed a tried-and-tested formula to outwit western powers for over 25 years.

It has done so using a modus operandi we’ll call “the dance”, which follows these eight steps:

Step 1: North Korea wants or needs something, most often food or petroleum.

Step 2: North Korea generates tension and gains international attention.

Step 3: Countries initially ignore the activity and attribute it to North Korea merely “acting up”.

Step 4: North Korea increases tension through increasingly violent acts or extreme rhetoric.

Step 5: The world finally pays attention and agrees to discuss a resolution.

Step 6: North Korea agrees to stop its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for what it needs or wants: food, petroleum or other aid.

Step 7: Once the aid is received, North Korea soon finds – or invents – a way to justify breaking its commitment.

Step 8: Repeat……………..

any opportunity for a preemptive strike against the North’s nuclear sites has been lost, for fear it would prompt an attack on Seoul and other parts of the South. Now, the threat of destruction raining down on the northern parts of South Korea is too high a price. Consequently, the only option remaining is diplomacy.

The facts are that the DPRK has a small nuclear arsenal, a crude but effective delivery system, and enough conventional rockets and short-range missiles aimed at densely populated areas of South Korea to make residents there nervous.

Of course, there are no guarantees that talking with North Korea will produce change. For one thing, it is highly improbable that the country would agree to give up its weapons: for Kim Jong-un, these programs are seen as vital to ensure his, and North Korea’s, survival.

But beyond the nuclear issue, there are a host of other pressing questions that would benefit greatly from discussion with the North: reunions for families separated by the Korean War, for example, or food and nutritional aid for children and nursing mothers, and medical assistance in combating tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases, for starters.

It’s diplomacy that can bring about these much-needed conversations between the North and the rest of the world.

A version of this article first appeared in NK News, part of the North Korea network

Robert E McCoy is a retired US Air Force North Korea analyst who lived in Asia for 14 years, including over four years in Korea http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/29/north-korea-nuclear-brinkmanship

May 30, 2015 - Posted by | North Korea, politics international

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