North Korea’s end goal is the forcible unification of the peninsula under Pyongyang rule, chief of U.S. Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris told a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee in Washington DC on Wednesday.
Harris is now the third senior U.S. official to publicly suggest North Korea is developing nuclear weapons in order to coerce South Korea into unification under its terms.
“I think we are self-limiting if we view North Korea’s nuclear ambitions as solely a means to safeguard his regime,” Harris said.
“I do think that he is after reunification under a single communist system. So he’s after what his grandfather failed to do and his father failed to do and he’s on a path to achieve what he feels is his natural place.”
CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in January that Kim Jong Un’s “ultimate goal…is reunification of the peninsula under his authority,” while U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster in December said the North wants to “use that weapon for nuclear blackmail, and then, to, quote … ‘reunify’ the peninsula under the red banner.”
Although many analysts disagree with the interpretation that Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is to support the end-goal of unification, there is evidence it is supported by other figures in the U.S. administration.
A U.S. policy memo seen by NK News, for example, said an unnamed “senior NSC official” had warned last October that “North Korea is not seeking nuclear weapons for self-defense, but rather as a tool to reunify the Peninsula and so (cannot) be deterred,” with the conclusion being that “war now (is) a better outcome than war later.”
Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee, Harris said Kim Jong Un was “on a path” to conquering the South
Notably, Harris’s remarks come as the U.S. director of national intelligence on Wednesday reinforced January warnings by CIA Director Mike Pompeo that time was close to running out for the U.S. to act on the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
“I think that this is dangerous,” said Fyodor Tertitskiy, an NK Pro analyst, about Admiral Harris’s remarks on coerced unification being the end goal. “Statements like this basically mean ‘let’s attack them, because otherwise it will be too late.'”
Tertitskiy said that while North Korean state media regularly states that unification is the end goal, historical precedence suggests the issue is unlikely to be more than rhetoric.
“I would like to remind readers that USSR’s ultimate goal was the World Revolution – and yet they did not even conquer West Berlin – which was inside the Warsaw pact territory,” he said. “Taiwan is considered a part of China by the PRC – and yet it remains to be an independent state.”
“Everyone would agree that Soviet and Chinese missile and nuclear systems were far superior to what the DPRK has, so I see no reason for North Korea to succeed where China and the Soviet Union failed,” he said.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: NK News
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