Nuke-free N. Korea still the goal

Ottawa 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.

Prob­lem is, they’re do­ing just that.

We also learned Thurs­day that a plan for the rogue state to fire four in­ter­me­di­at­erange mis­siles at Guam is be­ing pre­pared and, ac­cord­ing to state me­dia, will be pre­sented to Kim Jong Un within a mat­ter of days.

“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. Yes, that long ago. And the idea is still afloat.

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.

It cer­tainly reads like a dream sce­nario, given all that’s hap­pen­ing. Mar­ius Grinius, Canada’s former am­bas­sador to the two Koreas, told me on my Sir­iusXM show Thurs­day morn­ing that he didn’t see this as a vi­able plan any­more. It’s no doubt not, which is a trou­bling sign.

I don’t know what the other op­tions are, though, other than a sur­gi­cal first strike on the part of the U.S. mil­i­tary — it al­ready has var­i­ous plans drawn up for such an event — which Trump him­self says he doesn’t par­tic­u­larly want.

But we still need some­thing big­ger to work to­ward. If we’re go­ing to talk about diplo­macy, we need a goal. Any­thing other than just tak­ing things back a notch. Be­cause mov­ing back only a notch or two is still too close to the brink.

So what­ever hap­pens with this cur­rent ex­change, let’s all agree that a non-nu­clear North Korea should still be the ul­ti­mate goal. de­lib­er­a­tions pub­licly.

Trump spoke af­ter North Korea in­ten­si­fied its own rhetoric by an­nounc­ing a de­tailed plan to launch a salvo of bal­lis­tic mis­siles to­ward the U.S. Pa­cific ter­ri­tory of Guam, a ma­jor mil­i­tary hub and home to U.S. bombers.

That an­nounce­ment had been a re­sponse to Trump’s threat that the North would face “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it threat­ened the U.S. again.

On Thurs­day, Trump said it’s time some­body stood up to the pariah na­tion.

“North Korea bet­ter get their act to­gether or they are go­ing to be in trou­ble like few na­tions have ever been in trou­ble,” Trump said. “It may very well be tougher than I said.”

Trump spoke af­ter meet­ing with na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vis­ers at the golf re­sort where he’s va­ca­tion­ing.

He said the U.S. “of course” would al­ways con­sider ne­go­ti­a­tions with North Korea, but added that talks with the North have failed for the last

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.