World Kim’s charm offensive may SYDNEY NZ man­u­fac­turer fined for ex­port­ing plane parts to N. Korea ben­e­fit army if sanc­tions ease

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - World - 16 JUNE 8, 2018

A New Zealand air­craft man­u­fac­turer has been fined al­most NZ$75,000 (US$53,000) for in­di­rectly but know­ingly ex­port­ing air­craft parts to North Korea in vi­o­la­tion of UN sanc­tions, lo­cal me­dia re­ported Thurs­day.

Judge John Bergseng of the Manukau Dis­trict Court de­scribed Pa­cific Aerospace Ltd.’s ac­tions as “reck­less,” find­ing that the com­pany was aware of UN sanc­tions reg­u­la­tions but “had cho­sen not to fully in­form it­self of (their) de­tail.” – Ky­odo WHILE rais­ing hopes for de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion and a peace treaty to fi­nally end the Korean War, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s newly found fo­cus on diplo­macy comes with an ironic flip­side: It could be a god­send for his gen­er­als.

Kim’s think­ing on how his military fits in to his plans to foster de­tente on the Korean Penin­sula and ne­go­ti­ate se­cu­rity guar­an­tees from Wash­ing­ton may be­come clearer when he sits down with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump next week in Sin­ga­pore.

But one thing is al­ready clear. Kim can­not sur­vive with­out his loyal troops. What­ever grand strat­egy he has in mind will strongly re­flect their interests — and that in­cludes the abil­ity to make lots of money.

Along with the nuclear bombs and in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles that have got­ten the world’s at­ten­tion, the Korean Peo­ple’s Army is deeply in­volved in ev­ery­thing from rais­ing mush­rooms and ap­ples to run­ning its na­tional air­line and sell­ing the coun­try’s min­eral re­sources abroad.

So they stand to ben­e­fit greatly if Kim suc­ceeds in de­plet­ing sup­port for sanc­tions by ne­go­ti­at­ing with Trump and the North’s af­flu­ent neigh­bors.

Ri­valed only by the rul­ing party it­self, with which it is care­fully in­ter­twined, the military is the biggest and most for­mi­da­ble or­gan­i­sa­tion in North Korea. It con­sumes roughly one-third of the coun­try’s an­nual bud­get and em­ploys 1 mil­lion-plus per­son­nel, mak­ing its stand­ing army one of the world’s largest de­spite the North’s small pop­u­la­tion of less than 25 mil­lion.

From the reign of Kim’s father, one of North Korea’s most im­por­tant slo­gans has been “Military First.” And since he took power, Kim has set his sights on si­mul­ta­ne­ously de­vel­op­ing the na­tion’s nuclear forces and its econ­omy. His cur­rent diplo­matic over­tures to China, Seoul and Wash­ing­ton are based on his claim, laid out to party elites in April, to have al­ready “com­pleted” the devel­op­ment of his nuclear arse­nal.

With the nuclear devel­op­ment mis­sion ac­com­plished, his ar­gu­ment goes, it’s time to adopt a “new strate­gic line” that em­pha­sises the econ­omy and the strate­gic use of diplo­macy.

That should not be seen as a move against his military.

Just as shifts in the econ­omy since Kim as­sumed power in late 2011 have cre­ated a grow­ing in­come gap in the civil­ian sec­tor, so have they con­tributed to grow­ing dis­par­ity within the military ranks, sug­gests Wil­liam Brown, an ad­junct pro­fes­sor at Ge­orge­town Univer­sity and for­mer an­a­lyst with the US State De­part­ment and CIA.

“Some units and some sol­diers are mak­ing good money do­ing con­struc­tion work and oth­ers are mak­ing es­sen­tially noth­ing do­ing their fox­hole duty. Same for the of­fi­cers,” he said. “Some are com­ing out of their 10-year tour of duty with mar­ketable skills, like driv­ing and fix­ing taxis, and oth­ers with no skills at all.”

Brown said that, in the long run, diplo­matic success could free Kim to cut costs by reducing the military’s bloated ranks. But he stressed that for now “keeping sol­diers happy when oth­ers seem to be get­ting rich is of para­mount im­por­tance.”

“I get the sense that Kim is get­ting ready for an­other mas­sive state wage in­crease to make state work­ers, in­clud­ing the military, a lit­tle more happy,” he said.

The military’s in­volve­ment in such a wide va­ri­ety of side-busi­nesses also means it is in its in­ter­est to see an in­crease in trade well be­yond sales of nuclear tech­nol­ogy or mis­sile parts that will likely re­main the tar­get of in­ter­na­tional non-pro­lif­er­a­tion watch­dogs no mat­ter how well Kim’s talks go.

“They own a large num­ber of en­ter­prises, and their share in the min­ing sec­tor is prob­a­bly one of the largest. So they’ve def­i­nitely lost out as sanc­tions have made North Korean coal and min­eral ex­ports plunge,” said Ben­jamin Katzeff Sil­ber­stein, an as­so­ciate scholar with the non-profit For­eign Pol­icy Re­search In­sti­tute.

Sil­ber­stein added that the most im­por­tant role of the military in the econ­omy is its abil­ity to read­ily pro­vide man­power where needed, do­ing con­struc­tion and road re­pair work, help­ing out with the har­vest and work­ing in the mines. “That role is hard to quan­tify,” he said, “but it is likely mas­sive.” – AP


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