Tags: Donald Trump | North Korea | gadhafi | kim | pyongyang

North Korea Summit Leaves No Good Option But Success

North Korea Summit Leaves No Good Option But Success
People watch a TV screen with images of U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, late last month. (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

Monday, 04 June 2018 09:09 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Upcoming negotiations regarding North Korea denuclearization will test President Donald Trump’s artful deal-doing as never before. The results will have momentous consequences in determining if an isolated dictator of an impoverished populace can forever hold all other nations hostage to threats of nuclear holocaust.

Decades of repeatedly failed agreements to arrest expanding threats posed by a nuclearized North Korea menace have achieved only broken promises. Meanwhile, Pyongyang has bought time and extorted ransom to develop and stockpile nuclear warheads, along with the long-range missile systems to extend their kill zones to reach the U.S. mainland.

The worst of all possible strategies going forward would be to continue "lead from behind" policies of "strategic patience" which got us into this mess. Kim Jong Un must be convincingly persuaded to recognize that the U.S. is under fully committed and capable new management that will no longer allow his regime to get away with the same ruse.

This said, all scenarios short of crippling sanctions leading to verifiably enforceable North Korea denuclearization or an internal regime change pose real perils. An all-out preemptive strike, for example, would require a massive military attack executed so quickly and completely that Pyongyang would have insufficient time to respond with a counterstrike.

Such an operation would be very chancy, with doubtful confidence that all substantial retaliatory capabilities were eliminated.

Kim Jong Un is believed to already have multiple nuclear weapons plus a wide variety of deadly chemical and biological agents including anthrax, botulism, hemorrhagic fever, plague, smallpox, typhoid, and yellow fever. He demonstrated access to the highly toxic nerve agent VX in the assassination of his half-brother.

Conventional North Korean missiles can deliver weaponized payloads capable of reaching Tokyo, a metropolitan area of nearly 38 million people. Their arsenal also includes an estimated 8,000 big guns with artillery shells capable of targeting the same devices of mass destruction upon nearby Seoul.

Such armaments will be difficult or impossible to locate and destroy in a single bolt-from-the-blue attack. North Korea is a mountainous place which is ideal for hiding and securing stockpiles and delivery equipment in hardened shelters or deep underground.

Nuclear warheads mounted on mobile launchers will be particularly difficult to find, track and target. Even a "successful" major preemptive strike would pose major consequences.

Devastation of an already impoverished country of 25 million people would create the greatest humanitarian crisis of modern times to counteract mass starvation and disease.

While more measured strikes — short of appearing like the start-up of an all-out war —might significantly set back Kim’s efforts, they could also trigger a cycle of escalating responses, such as reprisals upon Seoul or Tokyo.

His regime which thrives on use of crisis to control his people has put the country on a hair-trigger sensitivity to the threat of an American invasion over more than a half-century.

Kim Jong Un will not readily forego a nuclear intimidation campaign that has served to keep his ruthless regime alive, maintain power over its population, and be perceived as serious player on the global stage. Least of all does he wish share the ignominious fate of Libyan strongman Muammar Gadhafi who was overthrown and killed in 2011 following denuclearization concessions.

President Trump has pledged that if both sides can reach a deal to rid the North of nuclear weapons he will support an agreement that allows Kim to continue "running his country," which is backed by "very adequate [personal] protection."

Any outside surprise attack on Kim would be very difficult to achieve in a highly secretive brutal totalitarian regime noted for a massive security apparatus with layers of surveillance at every level of society. Even an aerial cruise missile or drone strike would require inside intelligence about Kim's precise location.

Whether successful or not, attempts to preemptively remove Kim and/or his weapons by force can be expected to prompt automatic retaliatory responses. Either way, any miscalculations leading to wide-spread military conflicts will have vast human consequences.

Risk assessments of "acceptable casualties" on each side will depend upon who will wind up doing most of the dying. Whereas Kim Jong Un values his beleaguered masses far less than we do ours, protecting the considerable mass of his own skin is certain to weigh heavily upon his personal calculation scale.

President Trump has warned Kim that failure to agree to full denuclearization would lead his country to devastating consequences. With characteristic Trumpian candor he said, "If you look at that model with Gadhafi, that was a total decimation — we went in there to beat him."

We might therefore expect to see a revocable life insurance policy for Mr. Kim included in any summit deal with harsh term limit penalties for default. Failing acceptance of this offer, all other options, bad as they are, remain unavoidably real.

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). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Kim Jong Un will not readily forego a nuclear intimidation campaign that has served to keep his ruthless regime alive, maintain power over its population, and be perceived as serious player on the global stag
gadhafi, kim, pyongyang
Monday, 04 June 2018 09:09 AM
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