World View: North Korea Issues Vitriolic Anti-U.S. Rant, Collapsing Denuclearization Talks

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was ensconced in an elegant Pyongyang guest house for a second day of talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's right-hand man Kim Yong Chol

This morning’s key headlines from

  • North Korea issues vitriolic anti-U.S. rant, collapsing denuclearization talks
  • The North Korean demands: total American withdrawal from South Korea
  • The future of the denuclearization negotiations

North Korea issues vitriolic anti-U.S. rant, collapsing denuclearization talks

Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang after his meetings on Saturday (AFP)
Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang after his meetings on Saturday (AFP)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korea on Friday and Saturday, where he was snubbed by not having a meeting with the child dictator Kim Jong-un.

Pompeo characterized the meeting as “successful,” but the North Korean news agency KCNA issued a 1,300 word vitriolic anti-US rant, criticizing the “gangster-like demand for denuclearization,” and then contradicting itself by threatening to end its alleged “unshakable will for denuclearization.” Here are some excerpts:

It was, however, so regretful to mention what the U.S. side had shown in its attitude and stand at the first DPRK-U.S. high-level talks held on 6 and 7 July.

The DPRK [North Korea] side, during the talks, put forward the constructive proposals to seek a balanced implementation of all the provisions of the Joint Statement out of its firm willingness to remain faithful to the implementation of the spirit and agreed points of the DPRK-U.S. summit meeting and talks.

But, the U.S. side came up only with its unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization just calling for CVID, declaration and verification, all of which run counter to the spirit of the Singapore summit meeting and talks.

The issues the U.S. side insisted on at the talks are all roots of troubles, which the previous administrations also had insisted on to disrupt the dialogue processes, stoke the distrust and increase the danger of war.

The first DPRK-U.S. high-level talks this time brought us in a dangerous situation where we may be shaken in our unshakable will for denuclearization, rather than consolidating trust between the DPRK and the U.S.

In the last few months, we displayed maximum patience and watched the U.S. while initiating good-will steps as many as we can.

But, it seems that the U.S. misunderstood our goodwill and patience.

The U.S. is fatally mistaken if it went to the extent of regarding that the DPRK would be compelled to accept, out of its patience, the demands reflecting its gangster-like mindset.

But, if the U.S., being captivated in a fidget, tries to force upon us the old ways claimed by the previous administrations, this will get us nowhere.

We still cherish our good faith in President Trump.

The acronym CVID refers to “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization,” which has been the stated objective of the Trump administration from the beginning. KCNA (North Korea) and AP

The North Korean demands: total American withdrawal from South Korea

As I wrote two days ago ( “6-Jul-18 World View — Sec of State Pompeo visits North Korea amid reports that sanctions will be softened”), the objective of Pompeo’s trip was to press Kim to provide a complete list of all nuclear and ballistic missile production sites and a timetable for shutting them down. Obviously, the North Koreans balked at that request.

As I have said in the past, in my opinion, the North Koreans have had one and only one objective for these meetings: Use diplomacy to force the Trump administration to lift the sanctions, while continuing nuclear weapons and missile development.

Saturday’s KCNA statement is exactly in line with that objective. The North Koreans made the “reasonable” demand that the Korean war would officially end (as opposed to the current status, officially still at war after an armistice was signed in 1953):

The U.S. side never mentioned the issue of establishing a peace regime on the Korean peninsula which is essential for defusing tension and preventing a war. It took the position that it would even backtrack on the issue it had agreed on to end the status of war under certain conditions and excuses.

As for the issue of announcing the declaration of the end of war at an early date, it is the first process of defusing tension and establishing a lasting peace regime on the Korean peninsula, and at the same time, it constitutes a first factor in creating trust between the DPRK and the U.S. This issue was also stipulated in Panmunjom Declaration as a historical task to terminate the war status on the Korean peninsula which continues for nearly 70 years. President Trump, too, was more enthusiastic about this issue at the DPRK-U.S. summit talks. …

The U.S. side, during the talks, made a great publicity about suspension of one or two joint military exercises. But suspension of one action called exercises is a highly reversible step which can be resumed anytime at any moment as all of its military force remains intact in its previously-held positions without scraping even a rifle. This is incomparable with the irreversible step taken by the DPRK to explode and dismantle the nuclear test ground.

This is all a demand that the U.S. withdraw all its forces from South Korea before any denuclearization can take place. Related to this are other demands, including removal of the THAAD defensive anti-missile system from South Korea, and removal of American forces from Okinawa. At one time in the past, a North Korean official was quoted as saying that North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons after the U.S. gives up its nuclear weapons.

It is true, as the North Koreans claim, that the suspension of the joint military exercises is reversible, but the claim about the exploding and dismantling the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in Mount Mantap is also reversible, and may be completely fraudulent. The North Koreans did not permit nuclear experts to witness the explosions, and so the explosions may only have been a big show to gain negotiating leverage. Furthermore, as we discussed at the time, other parts of Mount Mantap can be used as nuclear test sites, and there may be dozens of other locations in North Korea. This is probably one of the reasons why Pompeo’s request for a list of test sites was denied on Saturday.

The purpose of the KCNA statement was to make a “reasonable” request, in order to get the Trump administration to lift the sanctions, with no significant concessions by the North. At the end of the day on Saturday, the sanctions were still in full force.

The future of the denuclearization negotiations

There is no doubt that the denuclearization “negotiations” have now taken a sharp turn.

Recall that Trump canceled the summit negotiations six weeks ago. ( “25-May-18 World View — North Korea suffers diplomatic defeat as Trump cancels summit”)

One of the things that triggered Trump’s cancelation was continued criticism of and contempt for Trump in the North Korean media. Since the cancelation, the NK media have been consistently “nice” to Trump and the U.S.

So Saturday’s criticism is extremely significant because it is the first hostile comment in the NK media since the cancellation. In a sense, it represents NK’s first real counter-response to Trump’s cancellation.

One thing that is notable about the KCNA statement on Saturday is that it came a few hours after Pompeo had said the meetings had gone well, so there was no need to make this statement right away. I have said in the past that if Kim tried to really denuclearize, then he would be shot and killed by his own generals. The denuclearization negotiations must have, at the very least, caused bitter disagreements in NK’s leadership, much like what is happening in London with Brexit or in Berlin over the migration issue.

So the statement, when it was not necessary, is a sign that the faction opposing the negotiations has just gained the upper hand. This is probably the real significance of the statement, and it means an end to current track of negotiations.

The South Korean’s must have seen this coming because they have been urging the U.S. to soften its demands on NK. Going along with the South Koreans would have meant making concessions without any denuclearization steps by NK, so it had to be rejected, but now we’re facing the inevitable outcome.

There is one more thing that has to be remembered: From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is a generational Crisis era, where nationalism and xenophobia are at historical high points. So it would not take much to reach a tipping point for the North Koreans to abandon the negotiations.

(People always point to the East-West Germany reunification talks in 1991 as examples that could be followed for Korean reunification. But that example is completely irrelevant since those talks occurred during a generational Unraveling era, where nationalism and xenophobia are at historical lowest points.)

The other thing that is going on, as I pointed out in my article two days ago, is that the Chinese are furious about the tariffs that President Trump has been imposing. The statement that NK issued Saturday may have been encouraged by the Chinese, because of their fury over the tariffs.

What choices are now available to the Trump administration? Here are some possibilities:

  • Trump could order a resumption of the canceled joint military drills with South Korea, assuming that the South Koreans agree.
  • Trump could offer some major new concession to the North, such as removing 5 percent of the American troops in South Korea.
  • Trump could replace Pompeo with someone else as North Korean negotiator. This might buy a few days of time, kicking the can down the road.

Any of these choices have unpredictable results, because the North Koreans have absolutely no intention of agreeing to denuclearization, and that will have to become clear at some point. Furthermore, with xenophobia and nationalism at historic highs in both China and North Korea, any action might produce a hostile reaction.

It is well to remember that we have only had these negotiations because of a remarkable coincidence: Just as things were heating up to a boil in January, it was time for, of all things, the Olympics games in Seoul. This permitted the North to continue nuclear and ballistic missile development while putting on a charm offensive that lasted several months. The charm offensive is now completely derailed.

For those who would like a thin reed of hope to grasp onto, let me offer one. In my article “12-Feb-18 World View — What was Kim Yo-jong thinking as she returned to North Korea from the Olympics?”, I speculated that Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, might have been so overtaken with the vibrancy and high standard of living of South Korean society, compared to the deadliness and near starvation as a constant in the North. She might have taken it upon herself to convince her brother to give up his nuclear program, for the good of the North Korean people. In that article, I described how Soviet leader Boris Yeltsin had decided to give up Communism after visiting the United States in September 1989.

I wrote that article in February, and since that time dozens of top North Korean leaders have visited the South, and have seen for themselves how the NK people have suffered enormously under Communism. Trump himself has frequently pointed out to the North Koreans that they could have a great future if they give up their nuclear program.

So the thin reed of hope that I’m offering is that Kim Jong-un and his generals take the same lesson that Yeltsin took, and decide that, for the good of the North Korean people, it would be best to give up not only the nuclear program but Communism. Something like that would be truly historic, but don’t hold your breath waiting for it. Reuters and The Hill and Fox News

Related Articles:

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, North Korea, Kim Jong-un, Mike Pompeo, Punggye-ri nuclear test site, Mount Mantap, China, Xi Jinping, Japan, Pearl Harbor, Kim Yo-jong, Russia, Boris Yeltsin
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