Wednesday, March 28, 2018

ICAS Event on C-SPAN: U.S.-North Korea Talks

This event for the Institute of Corean American Studies took place yesterday on Capitol Hill.  Dr. Taro O and I had to do an impromptu talk in place of the Honorable Mary Beth Long who could not make it at the last minute.  My remarks are first followed by Dr. O and the William Brown and Larry Niksch.  

Edward Luttwak followed with a talk (at the 1 hour mark) on how unprepared is the ROK government and military based on his four visits to the Peninsula since Jimmy Carter was President.  I have never heard such a disrespectful presentation that was extremely insulting to not only our allies but also to every US commander in Korea since Jimmy Carter.  Needless to say I was incredulous when I heard his presentation.

Last to speak is Tong Kim (at the 2:04 mark).  He is a career State Department translator who has spent decades translating for our senior most US officials to include our Presidents in north and South Korea.  He accompanied Secretary Albright to north Korea, among other trips to Pyongyang.  He has met more senior north Korean officials than any American.

U.S.-North Korea Talks A group Korean Peninsula analysts shared their views and insights on the strategies President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un can bring to their meeting scheduled for later in the spring. The panelists also gave a historic perspective of previous U.S.-North Korean talks and what some of the drawbacks can be when negotiating with the North Korean regime. close 


  • William BrownFellowInstitute for Corean-American Studies
  • Sang Joo KimSenior Fellow & Executive V.P.Institute for Corean-American Studies
  • Synja KimPresidentInstitute for Corean-American Studies
  • Tong KimFellowInstitute for Corean-American Studies
  • Edward N. LuttwakConsultantDepartment of Defense->Office of Net Assessment
  • David S. MaxwellFellowInstitute for Corean-American Studies
  • Larry A. NikschFellowInstitute for Corean-American Studies
  • Tara OSpecialistCenter for Strategic and International Studies->Pacific Forum Asia Policy
Fewer People 


Saturday, March 3, 2018

North Korea's Nuclear Talks with South Korea US Combined Training Prospects

I did a Voice of America talk show yesterday with Frank Jannuzi for broadcast into north Korea (and it is shown in South Korea as well). (It is in English with Korean subtitles).

I think the title should be North Korea's Nuclear Talks with South Korea US Combined Training Prospects.  I think this went from English to Korean and back to English.

The 20 minute video can be viewed here.

Washington tackles a weekly analysis of North Korean hot issues with Washington experts. This week, we will evaluate the role of Korea as a "dialogue partner" between the US and North Korea on the occasion of the PyeongChang Olympics, and look at the implications of the US union training, which is expected to resume next month. Progress: Jo Eun Jung. Daring: Frank Jannuzi (President of Mansfield Foundation), David Maxwell (ICAS Senior Researcher, Korea Institute for National Unification)

N. Korea issues warning over U.S. military provocations

We should remember that north Korea considers the ROK/US Combined Forces Command exercises a provocation while north Korea conducts provocations that includes shelling civilian and military personnel on islands and murdering 46 South Korean sailors when it sank the Cheonan.

north Korean propaganda has pundits, progressives (in the ROK) and the press (and those who sympathize with north Korea) calling for another postponement or even cancellation or a at least a reduction or scaling back of the upcoming exercises.  But we should ask ourselves objectively what do we think we will get from north Korea if we postpone, cancel, or scale back the exercises?  What do these people think the north will do in return?

  • Will the north end its provocations to gain political and economic concessions?
  • Will it end its winter and summer training cycles?
  • Will it withdraw the thousands of artillery and rocket systems along the DMZ?
  • Will it cease its infiltration of spies and SOF into the South?
  • Will it cease its unification campaign using subversion, coercion, and if necessary force?
  • Will it end seeking to split the ROK/US Alliance?
  • Will it ends its global illicit activities (counterfeiting, drug trafficking, use of slave labor)?
  • Will it end its proliferation activities around the world?
  • Will it end its WMD cooperation with Syria and Iran?
  • Will it end its human rights violations and crimes against humanity?
  • Will it come to the negotiating table?
  • Will it pledge to denuclearize?
  • Will it denuclearize?

Does anyone think that postponement, cancellation or scaling back of the exercises will result in a reduction in tensions?

The only thing we will see happen if we postpone, cancel, scale back the exercises is that the regime will shift fires to new propaganda targets and continue all of the above.  The only thing we will get in return for postponing the exercises are:

  • A reduction in ROK/US military readiness.
  • A reduction in ROK/US deterrent capabilities.
  • More emboldened north Korean propaganda as it will deem cancellation a success (and it will still focus on the exercises even if we scale it back to a one platoon, one aircraft, and one ship exercise)
  • More demands on the ROK/US alliance that will not be reciprocated by the regime.

And of course all of the above is not all inclusive, the north will think of many more ways to benefit from our decision to cancel the exercises.

We should remember that the reason for the exercises is due to the stated and demonstrated threat to the very existence of our blood ally the Republic of Korea.

The bottom line is that we will get nothing in return for postponement or cancellation of the exercises. Some might feel good about doing it in the misguided idea that it will somehow change north Korean behavior and reduce tensions but I believe that they could not be more wrong.

N. Korea issues warning over U.S. military provocations

SEOUL, March 3 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's representative told the United Nations-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva last month that Pyongyang stands ready to fight back against any military provocation from the United States, the North's official media reported Saturday.
The Korean Central News Agency quoted the North's representative to the U.N. office in Geneva as telling the plenary meeting of the U.N. disarmament conference on Tuesday that it is a legitimate right of a sovereign state to take measures to increase its national defense capability for coping with outside threats.
"(North Korea) was compelled to possess a nuclear deterrent in order to protect its sovereignty and the security of its nation from the harsh hostile policy and nuclear threat of the U.S. that have persisted for years," the unidentified representative was quoted as saying in English.
"However, the hostile forces led by the U.S. labeled the exercise of this legitimate right as a 'threat to global peace' and misused the voting mechanism of the U.N. Security Council to cook up several 'sanctions resolutions' in an attempt to deprive the DPRK of its self-defensive right." The DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.
The North's representative then accused the U.S. of "amassing huge strategic assets in and around the Korean Peninsula, and mulling staging joint military exercises aimed at a pre-emptive nuclear attack on North Korea."
"In order to defend itself from such threats, the DPRK had access to nuclear weapons, treasured sword of justice. As we have stated on numerous occasions, we will consider any type of blockade as an act of war against us, and if the U.S. has indeed the guts to confront us in any 'rough' manner, we will not (hesitate) to respond to it," the representative said.
A Reuters photo taken Feb. 27, 2018, shows Han Tae-song, North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, speaking at the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.Photo by: Yonhap

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