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INTERNATIONAL > South & Central Asia

Editorial: North Korea shouldn’t choose self-destruction

  • November 22, 2017
  • , Nikkei , p. 5
  • JMH Translation

U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. will reinstate its designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terror. The reclusive state is under mounting pressure and becoming more and more isolated. Now it is time for North Korean Workers’ Party chairman Kim Jong Un to accept dialogue with the U.S. for the sake of survival.


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the effect of the redesignation is “very symbolic” as the U.S. has imposed a series of economic sanctions on the secretive regime.


Trump said, “This designation supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime.”


After removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism in 2008, the U.S. considered relisting Pyongyang when it sank a South Korean patrol boat in 2010 and launched a cyberattack against Sony’s American movie company in 2014.


Calls for the redesignation had grown in the U.S. Congress following the assassination of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, and the death of an American student who returned to the U.S. in a coma after being detained by North Korean authorities and later died. Trump pointed out, “[The U.S.] should have relisted North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism much earlier.”


The U.S. is eager to bring North Korea to the negotiating table by keeping up pressure on the rogue nation. But there has been a dominant view that North Korea will not accept dialogue until it acquires nuclear capability enough to strike the U.S. mainland in order to gain an upper hand in negotiations.


Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks that “North Korea would allow its people to eat grass before he ever gives up its nuclear programs.” Pyongyang is deeply distrustful of Washington as it saw the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi, which renounced weapons of mass destruction, was toppled by the U.S. and Europe.


The U.S. will be forced to make the decision to take military actions if North Korea continues nuclear and missile development programs. But the relationship between the U.S. and North Korea is already tense and increasing the danger of causing an accidental military conflict.


If that happens, the Kim regime is not immune from collapse in the face of the U.S.’s overwhelming military power. For Kim, the top priority should be to keep the regime in power.


Tillerson has indicated that if North Korea gives up nuclear and missile development, the U.S. would guarantee “four no’s” – (1) we do not seek regime change, (2) we do not seek a regime collapse, (3) we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, and (4) we do not seek a reason to send our forces north of the demilitarized zone.


Is it impossible to persuade North Korea with China and Russia guaranteeing these promises made by the U.S.?


Will North Korea follow the path to self-destruction or go back? We hope that Kim will make a sensible decision.

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