Is North Korea Imperiled?

Kim Jong-un is a murderous, dictatorial jerk, as was Kim Il-sung. However, Kim Il-sung did more than merely murder and act in dictatorial fashion. He led. He personally visited Stalin several times and managed to convince him that an attack on South Korea would be successful if Russia provided generous military assistance — military equipment, strategic and tactical guidance and other support prior to the attack and during its initial phases. Stalin obliged, warning Kim to be prepared fully prior to attacking. The “surprise” attack, which should not have been a surprise, came early on the morning of June 25, 1950. Reunification, under his own terms, was Kim Il-sung’s main priority. It seems quite unlikely that Kim Jong-un will travel to China, meet with her leaders and convince them to support North Korea’s military nuclear ambitions, his main priority.

The article concludes,

The possibility of a far reaching purge in a nuclear-armed state defined predominantly by hostility to the outside world is deeply disquieting. Amidst the uncertainties and dangers posed by Jang’s ouster and execution, there is an urgent need for all surrounding powers and the United States to consult closely to limit the risks of an even larger crisis.

Domestic disruptions in North Korea and displeasure evidenced by China over Kang’s execution are indeed potential problems. China has until now played significant roles in North Korea’s Special Economic Zones. China may reduce her role in them, causing North Korea to look more aggressively elsewhere for “partners.”

As I contended in a recent article titled North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons programs coming to Special Economic Zones?, the nuclear weapons potentials of new North Korean Special Economic Zones may be of substantial interest to Iran should international sanctions on her nuclear activities be eliminated or even merely curtailed. That would likely precipitate new, and potentially even more serious, crises than the current Iranian fixation with nuclear warheads, delivery systems, Uranium enrighment and Plutonium production. Even with sanctions, Iran and North Korea have cooperated on nuke matters. With more funds available to Iran there would be increased opportunities and incentives for more cooperation, in North Korea and/or in Iran. An analogy might be drawn to the two rogue nations combining resources to achieve critical mass.

As I read the P5+1 November 24th deal, it shows little if any promise of curtailing Iran’s drive for “the bomb” and means to deliver it. There has thus far been no indication that possibilities of enhanced cooperation between Iran and North Korea were considered in arriving at the P5+1 deal and there is no indication that they will be considered in attempts to craft a final deal.

Fortuna's Corner

If North Korea is near a breaking point:  Do we know all WMD locations?  Can these weapons be secured in the event of a chaotic implosion?  Can we prevent their nuclear scientists from fleeing to Iran? Elsewhere?  RCP

What happens next? The immediate question is the depth and severity of the coming purge. It is likely that thousands of officials linked to Jang could face either dismissal or death. The prospect of a reign of terror within North Korea could trigger unforeseen consequences, either intimidating elites near the center power or undermining their loyalty to the system. The very logic of “a traitor in our midst” undermines the Kim clan’s repeated claims of political omniscience and omnipotence, revealing the depravity and deception that has been among the secrets of the regime’s longevity.

The possibility of a far reaching purge in a nuclear-armed state defined predominantly by hostility to the outside…

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About danmillerinpanama

I was graduated from Yale University in 1963 with a B.A. in economics and from the University of Virginia School of law, where I was the notes editor of the Virginia Law Review in 1966. Following four years of active duty with the Army JAG Corps, with two tours in Korea, I entered private practice in Washington, D.C. specializing in communications law. I retired in 1996 to sail with my wife, Jeanie, on our sailboat Namaste to and in the Caribbean. In 2002, we settled in the Republic of Panama and live in a very rural area up in the mountains. I have contributed to Pajamas Media and Pajamas Tatler. In addition to my own blog, Dan Miller in Panama, I an an editor of Warsclerotic and contribute to China Daily Mail when I have something to write about North Korea.
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3 Responses to Is North Korea Imperiled?

  1. NEO says:

    That is a very interesting question, Dan. Ordinarily, I would presume the military has something in mind. I’m still fairly certain they do, but there is that little matter of permission, which is a whole different proposition. Wish I knew the answers here but, at least the questions are asked.

    • I certainly hope that our military has something in mind, but doing anything productive about Iranian nuke activity at a North Korean SEZ would be difficult — particularly without firm evidence such as as been presented about Iran’s activities at her own military sites, including Parchin, about which the U.S. has done nothing of military significance and which seem not even to be subjects of the November 24th P5+1 deal.

      Unless North Korea srews up royally and permits missile or nuke tests at an SEZ used by iran, securing firm evidence possibly warranting military action would be difficult if not impossible. Were such evidence obtained, it seems highly unlikely that the Obama Administration would authorize military action.

      Such testing at an SEZ would require substantial and therefore costly and time consuming infrastructure construction, readily detected in satellite photos. North Korea already has plenty of testing sites and uses them whenever she wants to, with few external consequences and no military responses. It seems likely that North Korea would encourage Iran to use those and that Iran would agree.

      I wrote about potential Iranian cooperation with North Korea at the latter’s SEZs here a couple of days ago.

      • NEO says:

        I agree with you completely. I did see your earlier article, although I need to review it again.

        It’s a problem that is going to get nothing but worse but, I don’t think we can do much, at least in the next few years, which is quite discouraging.

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