Calgary Sun - - NEWS -

On thurs­day, Pres­i­dent don­ald trump dou­bled down on his threat to North Korea should its lead­ers keep talk­ing about an at­tack on the u.s. ter­ri­tory of guam.

We also learned thurs­day that a plan for the rogue state to fire four in­ter­me­di­ate-range mis­siles at guam is be­ing pre­pared and, ac­cord­ing to state me­dia, will be pre­sented to Kim Jong un.

“Maybe that state­ment wasn’t tough enough,” trump told re­porters, re­fer­ring to his ear­lier “fire and fury” com­ments, adding that the regime had been “get­ting away with a tragedy that can’t be al­lowed.”

He’s cer­tainly right about that. it has pro­gressed so much and faced so few con­se­quences. North Korea has made re­mark­able de­vel­op­ments on its arse­nal in a short pe­riod of time, now pos­sess­ing both nu­clear weapons and in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles that can hit the u.s. and Canada.

For years an­a­lysts have un­der­es­ti­mated both its abil­ity and in­tent. Now is not the time to do that. Now we have to as­sume the worst.

But what’s the next step? Where do go from here? the sort of busi­ness-as-usual diplo­macy we’re used to hasn’t worked. sanc­tions are ques­tion­able, if only be­cause the econ­omy, with a pal­try size of around $25 bil­lion, can’t shrink much fur­ther. the peo­ple are al­ready mal­nour­ished and liv­ing thread­bare.

it’s heart­en­ing to see China, the only coun­try that has lever­age, sup­port the lat­est round of sanc­tions. But this talk­ing point that China is key, while true to some ex­tent, is too rosy. it’s not like Kim will read­ily do its bid­ding. He’s no client-state dic­ta­tor.

also even if he backs away from his threat against guam, he’ll still be in a po­si­tion to at­tack such a ter­ri­tory on short no­tice should he change his mind. it’s not like any­thing sub­stan­tial will have changed.

We used to talk about a nu­clear-free North Korea. there are videos do­ing the rounds on­line of Bill Clin­ton say­ing just this dur­ing his pres­i­dency in the 1990s.

a pa­per re­leased the other month by the south Korean in­sti­tute for Na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy, re­states the plan for a nu­clear-free north with the new pres­i­dent, Moon Jae-in, as its in­tended reader.

it’s a four-step plan. Once di­a­logue is nor­mal­ized — right now the two Koreas don’t talk much — they get the North to agree to the fol­low­ing steps: (1) freeze nu­clear mis­sile tests; (2) de­clare and ver­ify all nu­clear pro­grams; (3) seal and shut down nu­clear ma­te­rial and fa­cil­i­ties; (4) and, fi­nally, dis­able and dis­pose of all nu­clear weapons.

if we’re go­ing to talk about diplo­macy, we need a goal. . Be­cause mov­ing back only a notch or two is still too close to the brink.

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