Dr. Jin Shin, Chungnam National University
It is known that North Korea has developed nuclear weapons and has reached the stage where its nuclear arsenal can be deployed in a theater of war. However, the international community, including the United States, does not recognize North Korea’s nuclear status. Against the backdrop, North Korea is committing criminal acts such as extra-judicial killing of civilians, intimidation, and violation of agreements, especially against South Korea. In addition, North Korea is threatening the international community by making money through cybercriminal acts.
North Korea is threatening military attacks against free countries in Northeast Asia and the United States based on its nuclear capability. These threats are likely to expand into war, depending on the turbulent reality of the international community. In addition, North Korea may further threaten the international community by delivering nuclear weapons to terrorists in the event of North Korea’s collapse.
Therefore, in order to remove North Korea’s nuclear weapons threat of and make Northeast Asia a denuclearization zone, it is necessary to offset the effects of the use of nuclear weapons through the possibility of eliminating the effects of the nuclear weapons developed by North Korea, or to create an environment in which North Korea can eliminate nuclear weapons by itself. It can be an alternative.
2. Prospects for Negotiations on North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un seems unwilling to give up its nuclear weapons. U.S. President Trump confirmed this through meetings with Kim Jong-un.
Kim believes that he suffered great damage in the Hanoi talks because he was tricked by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Prior to Kim Jong-un’s meeting in Hanoi with the U.S. President, exchanges between Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in administration were very active and friendly. However, after the dramatic failure of the Hanoi talks, Kim launched a direct attack, criticizing the South Korean president. Kim Jong-un’s anger continued to expand until 2020. However, in the meantime, the Moon administration promised economic assistance to North Korea and tried to improve relations with the North by appointing pro-North Korean personnel to the Ministery of Unification, but in September 2020, North Korea was in the stage of killing South Korean maritime officials.
Kim also confirmed the possibility that the United States could lift its economic sanctions against the North through Singapore talks with the United States. Thus, the second round of talks with the United States was held in Hanoi in February 2019. At this point, the United States of strategy and Moon Jae-in about the situation in Korea from the president is getting North Korea strategy and information on the United States. Including active support. The Pyongyang authorities were confident that the Hanoi talks would succeed based on information they received from South Korea. In other words, if Pyongyang removes even part of its nuclear weapons-related facilities, it has become confident that the U.S. will lift sanctions on the North.
Thus, from the day Kimdeparted from Pyongyang to Hanoi, the news of his participation in the talks and the hope that economic sanctions would be lifted was widely publicized through the North Korean media. When the Hanoi talks reached a dramatic breakdown, all North Koreans became aware of this.
In other words, North Korean authorities revealed to the people that Kim Jong-un made mistakes and failed as the supreme leader. As a result, Kim damaged his image as an infallible ruler and forfeited the key and important means of governing in North Korea. As a consequence, Kim gave instructions not to deify himself. It is predicted that Kim Jong-un will refuse any exchanges with the Moon Jae-in administration during the Moon Jae-in administration due to this betrayal toward Moon Jae-in.
Therefore, as of 2020, Pyongyang is expected to reject any form of peace proposal to North Korea led by South Korea or any proposal for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
3. Possibility of U.S.-China relations helping North Korea denuclearize
China is trying to establish a regional cooperation system, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, that excludes U.S. interference and recognizes China’s primacy. Chinese President Xi Jinping created the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to seize hegemony as a world power as well as Asia, and is promoting the One Belt One Road initiative through AIIB funding. Xi also created the Free Trade Area of ??the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) to create a new order of hegemony led by China.
In response, the U.S. is trying to establish an Asia-Pacific partnership to keep China in check and secure freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Washington wants to help its allies in Asia, as well as the entire Asian region maintain a free and democratic system. Accordingly, the United States signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), to curb China’s expansion by establishing an Indo-Pacific cooperation system.
Beijing opposes the South Korea-U.S.-Japan military cooperation system. Furthermore, Xi suppressed the system to collapse through pressure on Korea, the weakest link in the Korea-Japan-U.S. cooperation system. Thus, China actively opposed the deployment of THAAD missile defense in Korea and even took retaliatory measures against Korea. In addition, high-ranking officials in Beijing forced Seoul to reject the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) agreement between Seoul and Tokyo.
China is ignoring international norms and maximizing the pursuit of its own interests. China’s intelligence and military authorities are exploiting the intellectual property rights and personal information of the international community through cyber hacking to develop its own industries and enhance its military power. Beijing also uses economic weaknesses of developing countries to increase their debt burden and control the other countries through this policy.
While the United States and Western countries argue that the Beijing authorities illegally steal information and use it for their own industrial development, China is taking the lead, arguing that such actions are justified.
The ongoing conflict between the United States and China in 2020 is not just a trade dispute between the United States and China. It is a war between totalitarianism led by China and liberalism that countries around the world want to defend. Here, the United States is only fighting a proxy war. Also, it is not a simple conflict, but rather an intercultural war, a war between value systems, and a war between order systems.
After US President Trump, the US-China relationship seems unlikely to improve. Therefore, the possibility of solving North Korea’s nuclear weapons development through cooperation between the United States and China seems very small.
4. How to curb expectations about the effects of North Korea’s use of nuclear weapons
According to recent news reports, U.S. President Trump is considering a policy that allows South Korea, Japan and Taiwan to develop and possess nuclear weapons. Currently, China is threatening security in Asia, and North Korea is threatening the security of the United States and Asian countries with nuclear weapons. Washington authorities are considering allowing Asian countries to possess nuclear weapons as an alternative in order to root out this reality. So Washington’s top officials are considering allowing Asian countries to possess nuclear weapons and allowing joint NATO operations and management of nuclear weapons. This could be a way to eliminate concerns about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
As another alternative, the development of kinetic weapons, a conventional weapon system capable of suppressing nuclear weapons, has been proposed. The power of nuclear weapons is enormous, so there are no conventional weapons capable of subduing nuclear weapons. However, as a new weapon system, a system that projects a projectile to the ground while constantly orbiting the earth is being developed. This projectile itself does not explode, but it can be said to be a weapon system that uses impact energy using gravitational acceleration. Since this projectile is hypersonic, it takes 3 to 5 minutes from launch to reach, and the moment it hits the target, it applies tremendous impact energy to the target. Since this projectile strikes a nuclear weapon within the first five minutes of a nuclear weapon launch, it can be a means of disabling North Korea’s nuclear weapons. This is because nuclear weapons can explode at the point of nuclear weapons launch.
According to a report by British Telegraph, Russia is currently developing a missile system that uses nuclear fuel to traverse the Earth at a subsonic speed for an infinite amount of time and hit a target. It is a new cruise missile that Russian President Putin mentioned in his speech in March 2018, called 9-730 Brekesnik, and NASA calls it SSC-X-9 Skyfall.
Currently, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un regime will not give up its nuclear weapons despite international demands and economic pressures. Due to the breakdown of negotiations in Hanoi with the US, Kim Jong-un suffered fatal damage to the way North Korea governed. Subsequently, Kim Jong-un will no longer try to negotiate with the Trump administration as nothing has been done in a brief meeting with the US President at Panmunjom in South Korea. Kim Jong-un believes that the Hanoi talks resulted in a catastrophe because the Moon Jae-in administration provided distorted information to misjudge the North Korean talks in Hanoi. Accordingly, the Pyongyang authorities try not to even deal with the Moon Jae-in government in Korea. Therefore, it is difficult to remove North Korea’s nuclear weapons through negotiations or proposals at the present time.
Seoul authorities should recognize that it is of utmost importance for South Korea to prevent North Korea’s military provocation by establishing an Indo-Pacific security alliance with Japan, Taiwan, Australia, India and the United States. In addition, as a developmental concept, Northeast Asian countries should introduce the process of pursuing denuclearization by creating a Northeast Asian denuclearization zone. The concept of denuclearization should be recognized as a concept of a process rather than a fixed concept. In order to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons, the United States should adopt a method that allows South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan to jointly possess nuclear weapons and adopt the NATO method of joint operation. Thus, a method that can lead to complete denuclearization of Northeast Asia can be introduced by gradually removing nuclear weapons not only from North Korea but also China.
Another proposal is to develop a new weapon system that can offset the effects of North Korea’s use of nuclear weapons. This is one of the kinetic weapons, a weapon system that can strike within 5 minutes at the moment North Korea launches a nuclear weapon from orbiting the Earth or lower. I think the development of such a weapon system could make North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons by itself.