Unify – and con­trol?

N. Korea wants to re­unite Koreas un­der a ‘sin­gle com­mu­nist sys­tem’

Ottawa Sun - - NEWS - RICHARD LARD­NER

WASH­ING­TON — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s long-term goal is to re­unify the di­vided Korean Penin­sula un­der his to­tal­i­tar­ian govern­ment, the se­nior U.S. Navy of­fi­cer over­see­ing mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in the Pa­cific told law­mak­ers Wed­nes­day.

Adm. Harry Har­ris Jr. said dur­ing tes­ti­mony be­fore the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee that there’s a pre­vail­ing view that Kim needs a nu­clear arse­nal to safe­guard his regime. But Har­ris says Kim is af­ter much more.

“I think we are self-lim­it­ing if we view North Korea’s nu­clear am­bi­tions as solely a means to safe­guard his regime,” said Har­ris, who leads U.S. Pa­cific Com­mand. “I do think that he is af­ter re­uni­fi­ca­tion un­der a sin­gle com­mu­nist sys­tem. So he’s af­ter what his grand­fa­ther failed to do and his fa­ther failed to do and he’s on a path to achieve what he feels is his nat­u­ral place.”

Kim’s fa­ther and grand­fa­ther were the late North Korean rulers Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung.

Har­ris also said North Korea’s ad­vanc­ing nu­clear weapon and bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­grams put “him in a po­si­tion to black­mail the South and other coun­tries in the re­gion and us.”

The tes­ti­mony from Har­ris, an of­fi­cer who’s been in uni­form for nearly 40 years and speaks bluntly, came as ath­letes from North Korea are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Win­ter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The games led to a re­mark­able mo­ment of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween the ri­vals but their decades-long an­i­mosi­ties could eas­ily erupt again af­ter the Olympics. Har­ris called North Korea’s Olympic del­e­ga­tion, which in­cluded Kim’s sis­ter Kim Yo Jong, a “charm of­fen­sive.”

He said it be­hooves the U.S. and South Korea “not to be charmed” by Py­ongyang and to con­sider North Korea “for the regime it is and to deal with it on the ba­sis of fact, not charm.”

Top U.S. in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials on Tues­day de­liv­ered their lat­est threat as­sess­ment, telling the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee that the risk of con­flict with North Korea is higher to­day than at any time since the end of the Cold War. Their wide-rang­ing in­tel­li­gence re­port also said North Korea will likely con­duct more mis­sile tests this year and not ne­go­ti­ate away its nu­clear ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, who was in Pyeongchang for the start of the Olympics, said the U.S. is open for talks with­out pre­con­di­tions with North Korea, a sub­tle shift in White House pol­icy.

GETTY IM­AGES

Ad­mi­ral Harry Har­ris Jr., of the United States Pa­cific Com­mand, spoke re­cently about North Korea’s hopes for the di­vided Koreas. In­set, North Korean strong­man Kim Jong Un.

PENCE Open for talks

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