Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korean 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." 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.
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've 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 Korea war be officially ended (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 US 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 US gives up its nuclear weapons.
It's 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's no doubt that the denuclearization "negotiations" have now taken a sharp turn.
Recall that Trump canceled the summit negotiations six weeks ago.
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 US.
So Saturday's criticism is extremely significant because it's 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's 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've said in the past that if Kim tried to really denuclearize, then he'd 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's happening in London with Brexit or in Berlin over the migration issue.
So the statement, when it wasn't even 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've been urging the US to soften its demands on NK. Reuters
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's 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 wouldn't 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's 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 Chinese are liars and cheaters and criminals, but like the Nazis, they consider themselves to be the Master Race who have the right to lie and cheat and extort to get whatever they want, because they have such total contempt for the West. The statement that NK issued Saturday may have been encouraged by the Chinese, because of their fury over the tariffs.
I also pointed out that there's an analogy with the sanctions imposed on Japan on July 24, 1941, which infuriated the Japanese and motivated the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7. I can't prove this, of course, but with nationalism and xenophobia at their historic peaks, I have the feeling that a similar dynamic is going on with China and North Korea towards America and the West.
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% 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. With xenophobia and nationalism at historic highs in both China and North Korea, any action might produce a hostile reaction.
It's well to remember that we've 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.
What was Kim Yo-jong thinking as she returned to North Korea from the Olympics? I speculate 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.... The Hill and Fox News