Aletho News


Kim Jong-un May be The World’s Most Strategic Head of State

By Adam Garrie | EurasiaFuture | April 18, 2019

Last night it was confirmed that the DPRK tested a new tactical guided weapon. While this particular weapon does not violate the agreement by Pyongyang to refrain from testing ICMBs and nuclear warheads during the course of the peace process, it would be impossible to argue that the test is unrelated to the public disappointment that Kim Jong-un has voiced at the lack of progress on sanctions relief in the aftermath of the largely uneventful Hanoi summit between himself and Donald Trump.

Thus, the DPRK was able to show that it continues to develop its domestic defence industry while remaining committed to the letter of the no-ICMB/no-nuclear testing agreements which have thus far provided a foundation for the ongoing peace process. At the same time, the test is an indication that Kim Jong-un was not bluffing when he gave until the end of 2019 as a deadline for progress in the ongoing peace process before his country would examine alternative paths forward.

But most importantly was the timing. On the morning of the 18th (Washington D.C. time) it was known that the full contents of the Robert Mueller report would be made public (minus certain redactions). Because US Attorney General Barr’s previous summery of the report made it clear that the US President has been exonerated by Mueller, Kim would have known that Donald Trump’s spirits would likely be up as the entire world will now get to read first hand that the man many thought would destroy Trump has ended up vindicating much of what Trump has said over the last three years.

This is crucial for two reasons. First of all, in his recent speech, Kim indicated that while the last few months have seen a downturn in DPRK-US relations, his personal relationship with Donald Trump remains strong. Later, Trump agreed that he has a highly friendly relationship with Kim Jong-un and that he takes an optimistic view on the overall prospects of a successful peace process.

As such, Kim made it clear that yesterday’s new missile test was not intended to embarrass Trump personally. Because Kim and his colleagues (like the rest of the world) will have known that the public release of the Mueller report was coming within hours, Kim could have and self-evidently did use deductive reasoning to assume that short of a world war breaking out, all of US media would be totally fixated on reading and analysing the Mueller report throughout the 18th of April. On a slower news day, the DPRK’s missile test would have otherwise been headline news.

In this sense, Kim was able to make his point but do so in a matter made subtle due to the fact that the weapons test was going to necessarily be obscured by what for Americans is a bigger news story. The DPRK also used this opportunity to reiterate that far from having a problem with Trump, it is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who Pyongyang views as the main obstacle to progress in the peace talks.

When taken as a whole, the events of the last 24 hours have revealed Kim to be not only a master of grace under pressure but more importantly, a master of combining important messages with a subtle delivery that avoids inflaming the situation.

The stagnation within the peace process since the Hanoi summit may well have made the DPRK’s new missile test inevitable but Kim Jong-un’s understanding of America’s internal political situation has helped to minimise any potentially negative fall out from Washington within the framework of a delicate and extremely important ongoing peace process.

April 19, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

Takeaways from Korean summit

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 27, 2018

From the Indian perspective, the Korea summit at Panmunjom today heralding the ‘end of the Korean war’ is a poignant occasion. The Kashmir issue, which is almost of the same vintage, now remains as the only other decades-old flashpoint in international security since World War II. Arguably, the Korean problem is far more complicated than the Kashmir issue. The Kashmir issue is a bilateral issue whereas in the Korean problem, there are overlapping templates at the bilateral, regional and international level. Both are ‘nuclear flashpoints’.

But the Korean War (1950-1953) was far more catastrophic than all the wars India and Pakistan ever fought over Kashmir. The military casualties (dead, wounded or missing) exceeded 1 million while the civilian casualties are estimated to be several millions.

The key passages of the Panmunjom Declaration jointly issued by the leaders of South and North Korea – Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un – read as follows:

  • The two leaders solemnly declared before the 80 million Korean people and the whole world that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and thus a new era of peace has begun.
  • South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realising, through complete denuclearisation, a nuclear-free Korean peninsula. South and North Korea shared the view that the measures being initiated by North Korea are very meaningful and crucial for the denuclearisation of he Korean peninsula and agreed to carry out their respective roles and responsibilities in this regard. South and North Korea agreed to actively seek the support and cooperation of the international community for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

A signed joint statement was issued after several hours of talks between Moon and Kim (including one-on-one discussion as they strolled through the gardens and sat privately against the leafy backdrop with a serene atmosphere, deep in conversation, animatedly, but out of earshot). The joint statement is largely aspirational and doesn’t spell out concrete steps. But it flags the general idea that “the South and North have confirmed their common goal of realizing a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.” The highlights are:

  • They will hold talks on formally establishing a peace treaty
  • Agreed to “urgently resolve” humanitarian issues of divided families
  • The two sides will work together to “ease the sharp military tensions on the Korean peninsula” and defense ministers will meet in May
  • Starting May 1, all propaganda activities, including loudspeakers and leaflets, will be halted.
  • Moon will visit Pyongyang in the autumn. They agreed to establish an inter-Korean joint liaison office in Kaeseong.

Kim noted, “We hope we will not repeat our mistake of the past. I hope this will be an opportunity for the two Korean peoples to move freely from North to South. We need to take responsibility for our own history.”

Of course, there are still huge strategic and political divisions between North Korea on one side and South Korea and the United States on the other side. But this is a good start, since there has been a concrete commitment by Kim on denuclearization.

All the key players in the region have welcomed the agreement, including China and Japan. Russia’s Foreign Ministry says it is ready to facilitate cooperation between North and South Korea, in railways, gas and electrical energy.

China has taken care not to distract from the meeting at Panmunjom. The Chinese coverage of PM Modi’s meeting with President Xi Jinping at Wuhan has been noticeably restrained. China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang has been quoted as saying,

  • “Today, the leaders of South and North Korea held their summit successfully. (They) announced a joint declaration on their common understanding of inter-Korean relations, easing military tension on the Korean Peninsula, denuclearizing the peninsula and a permanent peace.
  • The positive outcome of the summit is helpful for inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation, peace and stability on the peninsula and the political resolution of Korean Peninsula issues.”

Trump’s first reaction to the Panmunjom meeting has come when he tweeted, “After a furious year of missile launches and Nuclear testing, a historic meeting between North and South Korea is now taking place. Good things are happening, but only time will tell!”

South Korea is showering all praise on President Trump and giving him credit for what happened today at Panmunjom. It is a wise strategy, since South Korea is essentially creating a positive momentum for Trump’s forthcoming summit with Kim and flattering the US president’s vanities at the same time. Put differently, South Korean president Moon is ensuring that Trump gets the Nobel Prize for Peace this year – and getting Trump to believe he earned it. But the real winner is Moon himself in taking a great leap forward in his life’s mission of inter-Korean reconciliation.

Full text of the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula is here.

April 28, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 2 Comments