Tags: Emerging Threats | North Korea | United Nations | border | dmz | skorea

Stop China From Playing Both Sides on NKorea

Image: Stop China From Playing Both Sides on NKorea
Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump, right, chatted with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. Following Trump's visit to Beijing, China said it was sending a high-level special envoy over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile programs. (Photo Andy Wong/AP)

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Monday, 04 December 2017 08:50 AM Current | Bio | Archive

I posted an article last Monday arguing that we cannot forever place our nation’s future in the hands of a paranoid nut job with his finger on the launch buttons of missiles capable of detonating nuclear warheads over the continental United States. The following day, Kim Jong Un demonstrated a capability to make good on his many explicit threats to do exactly that.

Observing that the Nov. 28 launch "went higher , frankly than any previous shots," U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said, "The bottom line is it’s a continued effort to build a  . . . ballistic missile threat that endangers world peace, regional peace and certainly the United States."

Any peaceful solution to this crisis must enlist China in a pivotal role. For this to occur, the Trump administration must provide very influential carrot and stick incentives to find cooperation to be in their best long-term strategic interests.

This persuasion won’t occur easily. With big stakes in an uncertain outcome, Beijing has been "playing it both ways."

On one hand, North Korea offers China a strategic buffer in disputes with the West centered upon growing security tensions in the South China Sea and Korean Peninsula. They will stridently resist any conflict resolution that results in a unified Korea under West-leaning leadership.

At the same time, the erratic Kim regime’s repeated threat to engulf Seoul in a "sea of fire" will spread to ignite a much broader firestorm of reprisals with serious repercussions for Beijing. North Korean destabilization — either through war or resulting from an internationally-engineered economic collapse — will draw a huge number of unwelcome refugees across their common border.

China, North Korea and all other adversaries must be given strong reasons to believe that the past era of American passivity in the face of aggressive provocation has finally ended.

Policies dating back to the Clinton administration’s 1994 "North Korean nuclear deal" have served only to buy time and to offer cover for nuclear and ICBM developments purchased with the same extortion money. Such weapons have been sold to several hostile countries, including Iran, Syria, and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Economic sanctions have obviously not been nearly aggressive enough. The U.N. Security Council has unanimously passed eight of them since the rogue regime conducted its first nuclear test in 2006. None have changed anything.

President Trump got that ball rolling again with an executive order granting the Treasury Department power to sanction any entity involved with North Korean trade or finance, freeze the U.S. assets of foreign banks working with the country, and ban those institutions from accessing U.S. financial markets.

The Trump administration has also influenced the UNSC to issue its latest round of restrictions which includes a prohibition of all coal, iron, iron ore and seafood exports. Whereas China, which accounts for about 90 percent of North Korea’s trade market has now agreed to purchase much less North Korean coal, they are actually trading with them even more…a nearly 40 percent increase this year alone.

Deployment of additional "Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense" (THAAD) radar and missile systems in South Korea will bolster existing capabilities to detect and neutralize first-strike missile attacks. Beijing vehemently opposes THAAD installations because they can also be used to track Chinese missiles, raising their concern about U.S. military encirclement.

North Korea’s ability to inflict catastrophic damage to the United States, South Korea, and Japan leaves all parties no choice but to adopt a proactive deterrence strategy . . . plus also one that projects a capability to retaliate to any attacks with overwhelming consequences.

The U.S. and South Korea can also employ preemptive deterrence strategies that work to encourage troop defections within the Kim regime’s abused and malnourished military.

A North Korean soldier who narrowly escaped across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) last month was reportedly inspired by watching and listening to South Korean media. In addition to being treated for five gunshot wounds inflicted by fellow border guards, he was found to have been suffering from pneumonia, sepsis, hepatitis B, and a nearly foot-long roundworm parasite in his stomach.

One of my current students, a former South Korean soldier, told me of observing miserable conditions experienced by North Korean troops as patrols on both sides of the DMZ watched each other through binoculars. Those on the North had burned nearly all surrounding trees for firewood to survive severely cold temperatures.

So given our late and lousy options, what can be done now? Inevitably it all boils down to two unfortunate choices — dangerous risks posed by proactive interventions, or tragic certainties arising from passive acquiescence as North Korea expands its nuclear arsenal which can already target America’s mainland.

China can’t be allowed to play it both ways any longer. Beijing must be made to realize that inevitable retaliatory reprisals targeted on their own border region presents unacceptably devastating risks for them as well.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2012). Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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LarryBell
What can be done now? It's down to dangerous risks posed by interventions, or tragedy arising from passive acquiescence as North Korea expands its nuclear arsenal. China must be made to realize that retaliatory reprisals targeted on their own border presents devastating risks for them also.
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2017-50-04
Monday, 04 December 2017 08:50 AM
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