World View: North Korea Suspends All Nuclear, Missile Tests, Shuts Down Nuclear Test Site

Academics use official footage of missile launches and visits to factories by the North's leader Kim Jong-Un to gain rare insights into the progress of the country's weapons programmes
KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/File STR

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • North Korea promised to denuclearize in 2008, and proved its sincerity
  • North Korea suspends all nuclear, missile tests, shuts down nuclear test site

North Korea promised to denuclearize in 2008, and proved its sincerity

This picture of the destruction of the nuclear reactor cooling tower in North Korea in 2008 went viral (AP)
This picture of the destruction of the nuclear reactor cooling tower in North Korea in 2008 went viral (AP)

In 2008, the North Koreans committed to denuclearization, and to prove it, they blew up a nuclear reactor cooling tower. The reaction from the West was euphoric. North Korea was taken off the international terror list, and many sanctions were immediately removed.

Here’s an AP news story from June 27, 2008:

North Korea destroyed the most visible symbol of its nuclear weapons program today, blasting apart the cooling tower at its main atomic reactor.

The demolition of the 60-foot-tall cooling tower at the North’s main reactor complex is a response to America’s concessions after the North delivered a declaration yesterday of its nuclear programs to be dismantled.

“This is a very important step in the disablement process and I think it puts us in a good position to move into the next phase,” the U.S. State Department’s top expert on the Koreas, Sung Kim, who attended the demolition, said. Kim shook hands with a North Korean official following the tower’s tumble to the ground.

In its first reaction to the developments this week, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry welcomed Washington’s decision to take the country off the U.S. trade and sanctions blacklists.

“The U.S. measure should lead to a complete and all-out withdrawal of its hostile policy toward (the North) so that the denuclearization process can proceed smoothly,” the ministry said in a statement carried by the official (North) Korean Central News Agency.

It was all very sweet and friendly, except that North Korea kept on secretly developing nuclear weapons, and a year later started testing again. The North Korean promises were completely meaningless, but they got major concessions that remained for years. AP (27-June-2008)

North Korea suspends all nuclear, missile tests, shuts down nuclear test site

In what some analysts are calling a “dramatic about-face,” North Korea promised on Saturday to end all nuclear and missile tests and shut down a nuclear test site. Instead, the country will pursue economic growth and a “strong Socialist economy.”

According to the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA):

[U]nder the proven condition of complete nuclear weapons, we no longer need any nuclear tests, mid-range and intercontinental ballistic rocket tests, and that the nuclear test site in northern area has also completed its mission.

To secure transparency on the suspension of nuclear tests, we will close the republic’s northern nuclear test site.

Nuclear development has proceeded scientifically and in due order and the development of the delivery strike means also proceeded scientifically and verified the completion of nuclear weapons.

We no longer need any nuclear test or test launches of intermediate and intercontinental range ballistic missiles and because of this, the northern nuclear test site has finished its mission.

We will concentrate all efforts on building a powerful socialist economy and markedly improving the standard of people’s living through the mobilization of all human and material resources of the country.

I am totally incapable of figuring out why anyone would think that this is some sort of about-face or breakthrough. In fact, this is a statement of the West’s worst nightmare.

North Korea will stop nuclear weapon and ballistic missile testing, but will keep their existing weapons, and will continue development without open testing. In the past, the North Koreans have said that they will manufacture an arsenal of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Furthermore, North Korea has sold chemical weapons technology to Syria and other countries and will do the same with nuclear technology.

There is no mention of North Korean “denuclearization.” Instead, the statement elsewhere says “(It’s an) important process for global nuclear disarmament,” meaning that North Korea will happily denuclearize when of the rest of the world denuclearizes.

In January, the North announced that all there would be no testing during the Winter Olympics games being held in Seoul. So this new announcement is just an extension and repetition of the previous one.

I have heard a couple of analysts claim that this announcement is extremely significant because the North did not have to do it, and the fact that they did do it proves that they are sincere.

However, three days ago, President Donald Trump said this, in reference to his planned meeting with North Korea’s child dictator Kim Jong-un:

I hope to have a very successful meeting. If I think it’s a meeting that is not going to be fruitful, we are not going to go. If the meeting, when I’m there, is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting.

So it is possible that North Korean officials decided to make Saturday’s announcement in response to Trump’s remarks. From the North’s point of view, Trump’s meeting with Kim will send the following message to the world: North Korea is an advanced nuclear power and is an equal to the United States.

Trump and South Korea are demanding that North Korea “denuclearize,” which means that the North give up all its weapons. This is never going to happen without a war. The North has been building nuclear weapons for decades, and they will not stop now just when they are finally building their arsenal.

Really, the situation has not changed since the beginning of the year: Either North Korea will have an arsenal of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can reach the United States, as well as Asian targets that include Japan, or else the US will have to launch a military strike to take out North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, if such a strike is even possible. Korea Herald and BBC and CNN and Korea Times

Related Articles:

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, North Korea, Kim Jong-un, South Korea, denuclearization, Syria
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