Old 12th Jun 2018, 19:35
  #2398 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: West Wiltshire, UK
Age: 66
Posts: 369
There are a few uncertainties with regard to NK, that seem to be taken as if they were proven fact by the media.

The first is, "Is NK really a viable nuclear power?". All the evidence we have suggests they are part way there, but are a long way from actually having deployable missiles equipped with reliable warheads. The evidence from their test programme seems to show that they have partially developed a physically large Teller-Ulam device, of modest yield, with some uncertainty as to whether the second stage really operated. To put that in perspective, it looks as if NK is around the same level of technical capability as the US had in the mid 1950's.

Next, we need to consider if NK was in a position to continue their development programme, to the point where they could pose a realistic nuclear threat to other states. All the evidence we have strongly suggests that their only nuclear test site was effectively disabled, and probably destroyed, as a consequence of the landslides that resulted from their last test. They don't seem to have either the real estate, or the funds, to build a new test site. That strongly suggests that their nuclear weapon programme had effectively been put back years, when they realised to full extent of the damage earlier this year. Interestingly this coincided with the about-turn by Kim with regard to NK's relationship with the rest of the world, and particularly SK and the US.

It's clear that Kim has been in the driving seat and making the initial overtures that led first to the meeting with President Moon in the DMZ, and then to the dialogue with the US that, after a rocky start, resulted in this recent meeting.

So what does Kim REALLY want? My best guess is that he wants some breathing space to build up the resources needed for whatever he has planned, and that means trade and maintaining face within NK. He may well style himself as Supreme Leader, but he buys the loyalty of those that maintain his position, and needs to ensure that NK can at least avoid another major famine, and ideally provide some improvements in the standard of living. This meeting has surely given Kim a tremendous boost within NK. He's portrayed as the leader that has made the President of the US fly half way around the world to meet with him, and I'm damned certain that will enhance his standing within NK, notwithstanding his ability to rule by fear (something I'm not convinced is sustainable in the long term).

Sure this meeting has helped to lessen tensions, but most importantly I suspect that it has caused China to resume trade with NK via the backdoor, to a greater extent than they were doing already. China doesn't want a potential nuclear threat on their border, and I'm damned certain they have been working away in the background to steer things the way they have gone, without seeming to be doing so in public.

I'm not by any means decrying the importance of damping down tensions on the Korean peninsula, but we've been here before a couple of times, so it remains to be seen how things pan out in the longer term. I suspect that the main outcome from this meeting will be to reinforce Kim's position as Supreme Leader, and that may well have been his primary objective.

Last edited by VP959; 12th Jun 2018 at 21:11. Reason: typo
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