Thae Yong Ho, North Korea’s former ambassador to the UK who defected in August of 2016 recently gave an interview with NBC news where he said “ the country’s “desperate” dictator is prepared to use nuclear weapons to strike the United States and its allies. “ This interview covers the issue of North Korea and the threat it poses to the US and the world generally, with the underlying message being one of fear and uncertainty.
The first question is one of the means. What kind of nuclear technology does North Korea have access to? Their program remains shrouded in mystery, but their nuclear tests have occurred in 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2 test in 2016. US intelligence currently puts their total number of nuclear weapons at between 8-10. The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) estimate they have between 10-20, but that not all of the weapons are operational.
This week President Trump is meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and at the top of their agenda will be the Issue of North Korea. China has maintained a friendly relationship with North Korea for decades, which has allowed them to maintain some level of independence and has prevented total economic collapse. China has an interest in maintaining order for a variety of reason, including avoiding their own refugee crisis if the country was to collapse in on itself. While China has not necessarily been helpful in the past when it comes to quieting the concerns held by anxious observers in our country, this time could be different.
The interview with the UK ambassador revealed in detail a lot we already knew, but a glimmer of hope emerged from it. He discussed the dissatisfaction of the elites and ruling class of the country. There are now whispers of opposition, where before that would be unthinkable. The inevitable is happening to the hermit kingdom, they are starting to receive outside information, breaking the hold of propaganda that has guided the country for far too long.
If China finds a way to apply enough pressure,t while outside information becomes more common and readily available, the iron grip of the “Crazy Fat Kid” and his family may finally show signs of weakness. This would be the optimal outcome of the coming negotiations with China and should be the focal point of the meeting between our countries’ leaders.
With that said, there are concerns going into the negotiations. The Whitehouse has recently made it clear that they are perfectly comfortable acting unilaterally against North Korea. Considering actions including military force and regime change are on the table, it could get messy. With the above conversation about their nuclear capabilities, mixed with the proximity of South Korea from the North, our troops currently deployed there, this is a very risky proposition. This makes the upcoming negotiations that much more important, it is a critical moment for our new President on the world stage.
On that subject, if you are rooting against a Trump win on this issue, you have your priorities seriously misplaced. This is a common sentiment from both sides of the aisle relating to any legislation that would make the other party look good in the eye of the public, and in my opinion, this issue has reached a toxic, self-destructive level. Consider the consequences of a Trump failure on this issue of diplomacy. The global instability, the inevitable lives lost, and the massive increases in spending that our excessively indebted country cannot afford to make. This is not a partisan issue, it is an issue of national and global security. For the sake of everyone involved, I hope the negotiations are a success.