(THIS IS AN EMAIL I JUST RECEIVED FROM MY U.S. CONGRESSMAN ANDY BARR THAT I HOPE WILL INTEREST MANY OF THE LAW ABIDING CITIZENS IN OUR COUNTRY WHEN IT COMES TO SELF AND FAMILY PROTECTION SECURITY ISSUES)
(THIS IS AN EMAIL I JUST RECEIVED FROM MY U.S. CONGRESSMAN ANDY BARR THAT I HOPE WILL INTEREST MANY OF THE LAW ABIDING CITIZENS IN OUR COUNTRY WHEN IT COMES TO SELF AND FAMILY PROTECTION SECURITY ISSUES)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS PAPER)
INDIA Updated: Nov 20, 2017 23:22 IST
India has dropped plans to buy Spike anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) systems worth Rs 3,200 crore from Israel, defence ministry sources said on Monday. Instead, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been asked to develop the ATGMs for the army’s infantry and mechanised infantry units to provide impetus to the Make in India plan, the sources said.
India was negotiating the purchase of 321 launchers and 8,356 fire-and-forget missiles with Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd.
However, a report in Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted a Rafael spokesperson as saying that the Israeli firm had not been officially informed of any change in the decision to buy Spike missiles. Rafael already “began the transfer of development and manufacturing knowledge as part of the Make-in-India program. This activity will continue as planned,” Rafael deputy spokesman Ishai David told Haaretz.
With the defence ministry retracting the tender to buy the ATGM systems, the army’s wait to induct the weapon is likely to get longer, army sources said. The DRDO could take up to four years to develop the next-generation ATGMs.
The Spike missile can destroy armoured vehicles and bunkers from a distance of 2.5 km and the army was planning to equip more than 400 units with the third-generation ATGM systems.
The decision not to buy the missiles comes around 10 months after the defence ministry appointed a committee, headed by a major-general, to examine various aspects related to the deal.
India had chosen the Israeli ATGM over US defence and aerospace firm Raytheon’s Javelin system nearly four years ago. The army currently uses the older Milan and Konkur ATGMs built by public sector undertaking Bharat Dynamics Limited under license from French and Russian firms, respectively.
Hoping that it would bag the order, Rafael had stitched up an alliance with India’s Kalyani Group to produce the missiles in Hyderabad.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS AND THE NORTH KOREAN NEWS ‘DPRK’)
A senior Chinese diplomat will visit North Korea from Friday as a special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing has said, without revealing whether it is about North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
China has pushed for a diplomatic solution to the crisis but in recent months has had only limited high-level exchanges with North Korea. The last time China’s special envoy for North Korea visited the country was in February 2016.
In a brief dispatch, the official Xinhua news agency said Song Tao, who heads the Communist party’s external affairs department, would “inform the DPRK of the 19th CPC National Congress and visit the DPRK”. CPC refers to China’s recently concluded Communist party congress at which Xi further cemented his power.
North Korea’s KCNA news agency confirmed the visit but said only that it would take place “soon”.
The trip will come a week after Donald Trump visited Beijing as part of a lengthy Asia tour where he pressed for greater action to rein in North Korea, especially from China, with which North Korea does 90% of its trade.
It is not clear how long Song could stay but he has already visited Vietnam and Laos to inform them of the results of the Congress, a typical courtesy China extends other communist countries after such important meetings.
It is also unclear where Song will meet the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
Kim and Xi exchanged messages of congratulations and thanks to the Chinese party congress but neither has visited the other’s country since assuming power.
Song’s department is in charge of the party’s relations with foreign political parties and has traditionally served as a conduit for Chinese diplomacy with North Korea.
A department official said in October that China’s Communist party continued to hold talks and maintain contacts with its North Korean counterpart, describing the two countries’ friendship as important for regional stability.
China’s new special envoy for North Korea, Kong Xuanyou, who took up his position in August, is not believed to have visited the country yet.
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(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI NEWS AGENCY ‘DAWN’)
Tensions rose on Tuesday after an Israeli operation to blow up a tunnelfrom the Gaza Strip killed seven Palestinian militants in one of the deadliest incidents since a devastating 2014 war.
The seven men, from the armed wings of Gaza’s rulers Hamas and allied group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, were killed on Monday when Israel blew up the tunnel it said had crossed into its territory and was intended for attacks.
They were being buried on Tuesday in their respective neighbourhoods in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya appeared at a funeral in central Gaza attended by a few thousand people, witnesses said, while senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Hayya spoke at one in the southern part of the strip.
“(Hamas) knows how to manage the conflict with the enemy and how to get revenge and strike at the time and place that hurts the enemy,” Hayya said, according to a statement.
Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008 and the last conflict in 2014 was waged in part over tunnels from Gaza that were used to carry out attacks.
Israel said it had been monitoring the digging of the tunnel for an unspecified length of time and was forced to act after “the grave and unacceptable violation of Israeli sovereignty.”
It said the operation was carried out on the Israeli side of the border and stressed it was not seeking a further escalation.
No tunnel opening had been found on the Israeli side of the border. It had come from the vicinity of the city of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, Israeli’s military said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday his country would “not tolerate any attacks on our sovereignty, on our people, on our land, whether from the air, from the sea, from the ground, or below the ground”.
“We attack those who seek to attack us.”
The operation comes at a sensitive time, with rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas pursuing a reconciliation accord aimed at ending their 10-year rift.
Hamas is due to hand over control of the enclave’s borders to the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Wednesday under the deal mediated by Egypt and signed on October 12.
It is due to return the Gaza Strip to full PA control by December 1.
Both Haniya and Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah spoke of ensuring the reconciliation pact remains on track.
“The response to this massacre… is to move forward towards the restoration of national unity because the enemy realises our strength is our unity,” Haniya said.
Senior PA official Mustafa Barghouti accused Israel of trying to disrupt the reconciliation bid.
Separately in the West Bank on Tuesday, Israeli forces opened fire on a “suspect” vehicle, killing one Palestinian and wounding another, Israel’s army and the Palestinian health ministry said. There did not appear to be any connection.
Hamas forces have used tunnels in the past to enter Israel and carry out attacks, but discoveries of those stretching into Israeli territory since the end of the 2014 war have been rare.
In April 2016, Israel’s military said it had located and destroyed a tunnel extending from the Gaza Strip into Israel in the first such discovery since the 2014 conflict.
An Israel army spokesman said on Monday that Israel used advanced technology to locate the tunnel but declined to elaborate.
The army has been seeking to build an underground wall surrounding Gaza that would block such tunnels, among other methods it has been developing.
Israeli leaders have been keen to show they are addressing the threat of tunnels from the Gaza Strip.
A state inquiry in February accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top army brass of being unprepared for the tunnels used by Hamas during the 2014 conflict.
Hamas has ruled Gaza since a near civil war with Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank, in 2007.
Since then they have fought three wars with Israel, while Gaza’s two million citizens have suffered as Israel has blockaded the strip.
Egypt’s border with the enclave has also remained largely closed in recent years.
Wednesday’s scheduled handover of the border crossings is a first key test of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal.
Israel has said it will reject any unity government that includes Hamas if the group does not disarm and recognise the country, among other demands.
During the 2014 war, 32 tunnels were discovered, including 14 that extended into Israel, according to a UN report on the conflict.
The devastating conflict killed 2,251 Palestinians, while more than 10,000 were wounded and 100,000 were left homeless.
On the Israeli side, 74 people were killed, all but six of them soldiers.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)
In his speech on the Iran nuclear agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), President Trump made a number of factual assertions. The deal was negotiated by Iran, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France and China), Germany and the European Union.
Here’s a guide to some of his rhetoric, in the order in which he made these statements.
“The regime harbored high-level terrorists in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, including Osama bin Laden’s son.”
The president recounted a long list of aggressive acts by the Iranian government toward the United States since the shah was overthrown in 1979, many of which would be familiar to Americans. This claim — that Iran harbored al-Qaeda terror suspects — might be less well-known, but it was recently documented in a 2017 book, “The Exile,” by investigative reporters Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy.
The book noted that the steady flow of senior al-Qaeda figures into Iran after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was controversial among various factions. The government actually made some arrests and sent some al-Qaeda figures back to countries of origin. But the Revolutionary Guard was more supportive. Trump, in using the phrase “regime,” glosses over the debate within the country.
“The regime remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and provides assistance to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist networks.”
Trump suggests the assistance to al-Qaeda continues to the present day. This is in line with the latest State Department Country Reports on terrorism, released in July, which said: “Since at least 2009, Iran has allowed AQ facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through the country, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.” This phrasing marked a shift from previous reports, which indicated the support was in the past.
“The previous administration lifted these sanctions, just before what would have been the total collapse of the Iranian regime, through the deeply controversial 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.”
There is little evidence that the Iranian government was on the verge of “total collapse,” though it was certainly struggling because of international sanctions. The Obama administration had been able to win broad international support for crippling sanctions precisely because it convinced Russia and China, two major Iranian partners, that the pressure was designed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and force the government into negotiations. If the government had started to teeter because of the sanctions, especially if it was perceived as part of an American campaign of regime change, that support probably would have been withdrawn.
JCPOA “also gave the regime an immediate financial boost and over $100 billion its government could use to fund terrorism. The regime also received a massive cash settlement of $1.7 billion from the United States, a large portion of which was physically loaded onto an airplane and flown into Iran.”
Trump often suggests the United States gave a $100 billion to Iran, but these were Iranian assets that had been frozen. The Treasury Department has estimated that once Iran fulfills other obligations, it would have about $55 billion left. (Much of the funds were tied up in illiquid projects in China.) For its part, the Central Bank of Iran said the number was actually $32 billion, not $55 billion. Iran has also complained that it cannot actually move the money back to Iran because foreign banks won’t touch it for fear of U.S. sanctions and their U.S. exposure.
As for the $1.7 billion in cash, this was related to the settlement of a decades-old claim between the two countries. An initial payment of $400 million was handed over on Jan. 17, 2016, the same day Iran’s government agreed to release four American detainees, including The Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian. The timing — which U.S. officials insisted was a coincidence — suggested the cash could be viewed as a ransom payment.
But the initial cash payment was Iran’s money. In the 1970s, the then-pro-Western Iranian government under the shah paid $400 million for U.S. military equipment. But the equipment was never delivered because the two countries broke off relations after the seizure of American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran.
Two other payments totaling $1.3 billion — a negotiated agreement on the interest owed on the $400 million — came some weeks later.
“The deal allows Iran to continue developing certain elements of its nuclear program and, importantly, in just a few years, as key restrictions disappear, Iran can sprint towards a rapid nuclear weapons breakout.”
JCPOA has been in place for two years. Certain provisions of the nuclear aspects of the deal do not last indefinitely, but virtually all phase out between years 10 and 25. It’s doubtful Iran would have agreed to an indefinite ban on nuclear activities, given that it has a right to have a nonnuclear program under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Critics of the agreement argue that Iran’s past behavior suggests it will cheat in any case and thus has forfeited its rights.
Trump does not mention that under the agreement, Iran is permanently prohibited from acquiring nuclear weapons, and will be subject to certain restrictions and additional monitoring indefinitely. (Readers may also be interested in a previous fact check we did on whether Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons; we found the claim dubious.)
It’s unclear why Trump refers to a “few years” before a potential nuclear breakout. Nonnuclear provisions having to do with arms-related transfers to and from Iran will expire in three years, or possibly sooner. In six years, U.N. Security Council restrictions end on any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
“Those who argue that somehow the JCPOA deals only with nuclear matters and should be judged separate from the restrictions in [U.N.] Resolution 2231 fail to explain that a nuclear weapon is a warhead and a delivery system,” noted David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, in testimony before Congress. “Today, the delivery vehicle of choice is a ballistic missile.”
“The Iranian regime has committed multiple violations of the agreement. For example, on two separate occasions, they have exceeded the limit of 130 metric tons of heavy water. Until recently, the Iranian regime has also failed to meet our expectations in its operation of advanced centrifuges.”
Trump is right that Iran twice exceeded the deal’s limit on heavy water. But supporters of the deal say it shows JCPOA is working. Iran tried to take advantage of fuzzy language in the agreement but was immediately caught by international inspectors; the other partners objected and forced Iran to come back into compliance.
As for the centrifuges, the deal limits both the number and type of centrifuges Iran is permitted to use. Again Iran tried to take advantage of ambiguous limits — “roughly 10” advanced centrifuges — by operating slightly more than that number.
The dispute for the moment also appears to have been resolved, though Albright in his testimony noted that “Iran has also built and operated more advanced centrifuges than it is allowed, and it has misused quality assurance limitations to conduct banned mechanical testing of advanced centrifuges.”
“There are also many people who believe that Iran is dealing with North Korea. I am going to instruct our intelligence agencies to do a thorough analysis and report back their findings beyond what they have already reviewed.”
This was a puzzling statement. The phrasing suggests there is not enough evidence to claim that Iran has dealings with North Korea, but the intelligence agencies will keep looking. But it raises the question about why the president made the assertion in the first place.
“It is under continuous review, and our participation can be canceled by me, as president, at any time.”
The other partners to the agreement dispute that Trump has the authority to end the deal. In an unusual joint statement, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron noted: “JCPOA was unanimously endorsed by the U.N. Security Council in Resolution 2231. The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA through its long-term verification and monitoring program.”
Similarly, Federica Mogherini, the E.U. foreign policy chief, said no one country could terminate the deal. “This deal is not a bilateral agreement,” she said. “The international community, and the European Union with it, has clearly indicated that the deal is, and will, continue to be in place.”
However, a president can stop waiving nuclear sanctions at any point, causing nuclear sanctions to come back into force. Moreover, U.S. law requires Trump to waive nuclear sanctions regularly, so he could simply not do anything and nuclear sanctions come back. In effect, that would terminate the deal, whether the other partners like it or not.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)
This morning Kim Jong Un, the idiot who controls North Korea with an iron fist set off a nuclear bomb. China says that they do not want there to be nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula yet they have helped create this lunatic in North Korea. I say this because there is plenty of picture evidence that shows that the missile launchers North Korea uses are Chinese. The very rapid development of their missile and Nuke programs makes it obvious that North Korea is getting ‘State’ help from someone. There are only two choices as to which States, China or Russia. There is also plenty of solid proof that North Korea is helping Iran with their missile and Nuke programs. All of the signs point to China being behind North Korea and China’s President Xi Jinping has stated this past week that China will not tolerate a Regime change in North Korea under any circumstance.
China’s President Xi Jinping has proven himself to be almost as flagrant of a liar as President Trump, the difference between those two men is that Xi Jinping is very intelligent and Donald Trump if a complete idiot. China’s government would love nothing more than for the United States military to totally exit the Asian realm so that they can more easily totally dominate every country in Asia. I do not believe that China and I mean by that, Xi Jinping will order a ‘hit’ on Kim Jong Un even though that would be the best solution to this crises. One mans blood being spilled is far better than the blood of thousands or even millions being spilled.
Being China is actually helping Kim Jong Un with his Nuclear and military programs the world can not wait on China to do anything to this crazy fool. While the world waits on the UN to produce results with their talks and sanctions North Korea is perfecting their Missile and Nuclear technologies with the help of Beijing. China continues to warn the U.S. and our allies in that region of the world that if North Korea is attacked preemptively that China will militarily join North Korea. So, to me that sounds a lot like the U.S., South Korea or Japan should just sit back and wait to be hit with Nuclear bombs first before they respond. I am not saying that the U.S. should Nuke anyone first but what I am saying is that if Xi Jinping will not kill Kim Jong Un then the U.S. needs to make it very clear to Kim Jong Un that if he tests even one more missile, Nuke of otherwise that the U.S. and our Allies will hunt him down and kill him, no if and or buts about it, he will die.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)
(CNN)On the first day of the new school year in Russia, students learned an important lesson directly from their president — who he thinks will rule the world.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)
Two shipments of North Korean chemical weapons bound for Syria have reportedly been intercepted by United Nations member states in the past six months.
The shipments bound for the Syrian government agency responsible for the country’s chemical weapons program were detailed in a confidential UN report on North Korean sanctions violations submitted to the Security Council earlier this month, Reuters reported Monday.
“The panel is investigating reported prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms cooperation between Syria and the DPRK (North Korea),” a panel of independent UN experts wrote in their 37-page report.
“Two member states interdicted shipments destined for Syria,” the experts said, adding that another member state had since informed the panel they believed the weapons were part of an arms contract between Damascus and North Korea’s primary arms dealer, which has been subject to international sanctions since 2009.
“The consignees were Syrian entities designated by the European Union and the United States as front companies for Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), a Syrian entity identified by the Panel as cooperating with KOMID in previous prohibited item transfers,” the experts wrote in their report to the Security Council.
Western analysts and intelligence services believe the SSRC is responsible for Syria’s research and development of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, including its missile technology.
Neither Pyongyang or Damascus responded to a request for comment by Reuters.
Tuesday marks the four-year anniversary of the Ghouta chemical attack on opposition-held neighborhoods in Damascus that killed hundreds of people. The West and the UN roundly blamed Syrian President Bashar Assad for attack, which prompted an agreement brokered by the US and Russia to disarm Syria’s chemical stockpile.
However, chemical attacks have continued to target civilians and rebel fighters, according to opposition groups and others.
In April, a suspected chemical attack in the rebel-held Idlib province left over 90 people dead, including many children, with the West accusing Assad of being responsible.
That attack prompted the US to impose “sweeping” new sanctions on Syrian officials, and President Donald Trump ordered 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired at the airbase where the attack was launched.
The new sanctions ordered by the Treasury included freezing all assets in the US belonging to 271 employees of the SSRC, and blocked any American person or business from dealing with them.
Washington said at the time the SSRC was responsible for the producing the chemical weapons used in the April 4 attack.
The report on ties between Syria and North Korea comes as tensions between Pyongyang and the West have soared in recent months over North Korea’s weapons ambitions, which have seen it subjected to a seventh round of Security Council sanctions.
Earlier this month, Pyongyang threatened to send a salvo of missiles toward the US territory of Guam — although it appears to have backed off for now.
Trump has promised “fire and fury” and said that Washington’s weapons were “locked and loaded.”
The intense rhetoric on both sides has raised fears of a miscalculation leading to catastrophic consequences — North Korea has vast artillery forces deployed within range of Seoul, where millions of people live.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘LAWFARE’ NEWS SITE)
With biannual joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises set to begin on Monday, the temperature on the Korean Peninsula has cooled, if only slightly, following a recent escalation in rhetoric between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. As the nuclear brinkmanship recedes, we are left with a fundamental and unsettling new reality: North Korea possesses a credible capability to hit the U.S. homeland with a nuclear-armed missile.
Now comes a central question: In tandem with deterrence and containment, what can the United States do to bring North Korea to the negotiating table for serious discussions to limit and eventually roll back its nuclear program?
In recent days, China’s Foreign Ministry has doubled down on a longstanding proposal known as “double-suspension,” or “freeze-for-freeze,” as the best hope for a solution on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea would suspend its nuclear and missile testing in return for a suspension of U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises. This mutual forbearance is pitched by China (along with Russia) as a possible first step in bringing the parties to the table with the long-term goal of denuclearization.
At first blush, such a deal might seem to entail relatively little downside for the United States. The U.S. government could independently verify North Korean compliance on nuclear and missile testing, and the policy is quickly reversible should North Korea choose to cheat. Despite North Korea’s recently demonstrated intercontinental ballistic missile capability, the “get” for the United States is substantial because the lack of further flight testing would limit the North’s confidence in the technical reliability of its nuclear and missile technology. Moreover, leaders in both North Koreaand South Korea have shown openness to the double-freeze as a pathway to negotiations.
But the United States has long resisted calls for a suspension of military exercises, which it correctly argues are lawful, defensive in nature, important for military readiness, and of “no moral equivalency” with the DPRK’s behavior. Some analysts fearthat North Korea would simply use such an agreement to advance research and development for other aspects of its nuclear program—an especially weighty concern given reports of North Korea’s recent progress in miniaturizing nuclear warheads for ICBM delivery. Others worry that a halt in exercises would undermine confidence in the U.S.-South Korean alliance at a critical moment.
Despite these valid concerns, U.S. policymakers would do well not to dismiss the Chinese proposal out of hand. As U.S. leaders have acknowledged time and again, most recently in a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, China is a crucial player in the North Korean nuclear equation given its involvement in 90 percent of North Korean trade and its “dominant economic leverage over Pyongyang.” The approach of “strategic accountability” articulated by Mattis and Tillerson will have a chance at success only if China is willing to fully enforce the unprecedented economic sanctions to which it has agreed at the United Nations. Here is where a modified freeze proposal might have some room to run.
Instead of buying the proposal off the shelf as a Chinese-and-Russian-brokered deal between the United States and North Korea, U.S. officials could “accept” China’s proposal on the condition that China itself bring something to the table. That something would include specific steps to enforce existing economic sanctions and to curtail the financial channels on which North Korea’s weapons program relies. (An example would be going after the front companies and banks that provide illicit financing to North Korea’s government, including those that are less vulnerable to U.S. secondary sanctions due to their lack of exposure to the U.S. financial system.) Although recent months have seen an increase in Chinese cooperation at the U.N. Security Council—including full sectoral bans on North Korean exports of coal, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore, and seafood under UNSC Resolution 2371—U.S. officials have considerable and justifiable concerns about China’s poor track record in following through with robust enforcement.
Thus, a possible deal: The United States and South Korea could agree to substantially scale back their March 2018 joint military exercises, on the condition that (1) North Korea immediately and completely suspend nuclear and ballistic missile testing, as well as exports of nuclear technology; and that (2) China crack down on North Korean trade, financial transfers, and cross-border movement of weapons technology in a scheduled step-by-step way that leads to a measurable increase in pressure on Pyongyang. The United States and South Korea would closely monitor each party’s compliance with the agreement for the next six months leading up to the spring exercises, and would only scale down the exercises if China held up its end of the bargain. A few scale-down scenarios could be drawn up—including, for example, limiting some command post exercises to a low-profile, computer-assisted format; moving certain exercises off the Korean Peninsula; or refraining from “decapitation” drills. If by the end of the six-month period China has not fully lived up to its commitments, the United States would have available a planned option commensurate with the extent of Chinese cooperation in the interim.
To be sure, even if North Korea were willing to go along with this proposal, there are reasons to think the Chinese government will be reluctant. China has prioritized maintaining a strategic “buffer state” on its border and worries about the possible collapse of the Kim regime. As a number of observers have noted, China is not confident it can thread the needle between pressure sufficient to bring North Korea to negotiations but not so severe that it causes regime collapse or outright war. China’s leaders thus find themselves on the horns of a dilemma when it comes to squeezing Pyongyang.
It is possible, however, that China may be amenable to a tougher approach going forward that explicitly builds on its own repeated proposals. Following North Korea’s recent missile tests, the Kim regime may feel more externally secure given the progress of its nuclear deterrent capability. China might calculate that this expands its margin of error to test the impact of a tighter economic squeeze. In addition, Chinese leaders understand that recent innovations in financial sanctions have made them a more nimble tool that can be targeted to avoid totally destabilizing the country.
The point here is not to suggest that a three-part deal with China and North Korea will necessarily work. Nearly any proposal designed to produce constructive negotiations with Kim’s regime must be viewed with an abundance of caution given the historical record and the fact that Kim sees nukes as essential to his survival. On almost any conceivable scenario, deterrence and containment will be cornerstones of U.S. strategy going forward.
Yet a deterrence and containment posture will require close coordination and cooperation, not only with our allies South Korea and Japan, but also with China—which will continue to have a strong interest in North Korean denuclearization. As former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has argued, “An understanding between Washington and Beijing is the essential prerequisite for the denuclearization of Korea.” This necessarily includes U.S. recognition of China’s “stake in the political evolution of North Korea following denuclearization, whether it be a two-state solution or unification, and in restrictions on military deployment placed on North Korea.”
Reaching such an understanding will require a foundation of China-U.S. mutual trust that is far from established. The core of the proposal here is thus to take as the starting point of a new initiative China’s own “double-freeze” proposal, and build on it the modified terms outlined above. This would signal to Beijing that the United States does not dismiss Chinese proposals and concerns out of hand. It would provide a measure of moral high ground for the United States should China reject a U.S. counter-proposal that accepts the thrust of a much-touted Chinese diplomatic initiative. Above all, it would demonstrate that the United States is not spoiling for a fight but is serious about protecting its interests and not willing to give up an ounce of military readiness without getting something significant in return from the other major players at the table.
In sum, “freeze-for-freeze” alone is not a viable path to bringing North Korea to the table for serious negotiations. A key additional ingredient is Chinese leverage and increased pressure through economic sanctions. Although the “freeze-plus-pressure” arrangement sketched above is not in itself an answer to the fundamental security challenge on the Korean Peninsula, it may be one path toward a solution that currently eludes us.
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