This is the second fastest report that official DPRK media has published about the inauguration of a U.S. president in the past 17 years.
“Donald Trump was inaugurated as the U.S. President,” the title of the brief article published on Rodong Sinmun said.
“In the U.S., Donald Trump from the Republican Party was inaugurated as the 45th U.S. President on 20th. The presidential inauguration was held in Washington D.C.,” the article said.
So far, the Rodong report marks the only official North Korean coverage to have mentioned the inauguration event. No other reporting has yet emerged on other state-run media including KCTV, KCNA and propaganda outlets like Uriminzokkiri.
The speed of Sunday’s Rodong report make it the the second fastest U.S. presidential inauguration report to have been covered by DPRK state media since it started its web-based KCNA news service in 1997.
KCNA Watch’s search results showed that Bush’s inauguration was covered on January 23, 2000, three days after the event.
Former U.S. President Obama’s inauguration was also covered by the same media, but only a day after his inauguration which was held on January 20, 2009.
The North’s coverage of Bill Clinton’s inauguration, held on January 20, 1993, was not found in the KCNA Watch database, because it took place prior to the DPRK’s commencement of web-based coverage.
Just like the Rodong report on Trump’s inauguration, official news about the other former U.S. presidents’ appointments to the Oval Office were published in reports under 20 words long, with dry sentences and lacking any analysis.
KCNA in the past stated that an “inaugural address” was given during the ceremonies of Bush and Obama, though not revealing what was spoken about.
This is a contrast to how KCNA reported Vladimir Putin’s inauguration in 2012 – his third presidential term – which was covered on the same day of his inauguration, May 7, 2012.
In that report, KCNA notably covered parts of Putin’s address, saying that he pledged to “accomplish Russia’s socio-political stabilization and economic development, to earn a position of powerful nation in Eurasia.”
Edited by: Chad O’Carroll
Featured Image: Rodong Sinmun]]>
“We will … develop a state-of-the-art missile defense system to protect against missile-based attacks from states like Iran and North Korea,” an announcement published shortly after President Trump’s inauguration said on Friday.
The announcement came just 20 days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in his New Year’s speech that Pyongyang was close to reaching the final preparation stages for test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile.
President Trump responded to Kim’s speech on January 3 by declaring on Twitter that a North Korean ICBM “won’t happen”.
He gave no indication for how the U.S. might prevent North Korea testing ICBM technology at the time and his Friday inauguration speech did not refer to Pyongyang in any way.
The U.S. does not currently have a reliable system to prevent North Korea’s emerging road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) technology from – once testing and deployment is complete – delivering nuclear warheads to the U.S. mainland.
Friday’s White House announcement, which did not include details about technical specifications or potential cost for the missile defense system, also said the new military budget would need to improve American cyber-warfare capabilities.
“We will make it a priority to develop defensive and offensive cyber capabilities at our U.S. Cyber Command, and recruit the best and brightest Americans to serve in this crucial area,” the statement said, also without providing specifics.
Cyber-warfare is an area which Trump’s new Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director, Mike Pompeo, recently warned of improving North Korean capabilities.
“Countries thought to be unsophisticated, such as North Korea, have overcome what appear to be low technological barriers of entry to engage in offensive cyber operations,” he said during a Senate confirmation hearing in January.
The public statements of key administrative appointees have to date all underscored the increasing nature of threat that North Korea poses the U.S.
Together, Rex Tillerson (State), James Mattis (Defense), Mike Flynn (National Security Advisor), and Nikki R. Haley (United Nations) have provided clues as to how North Korea policy under Trump may emerge.
Common positions have included a need to enhance sanctions, increase pressure on China to implement them, keep military options on the table, as well as keep military options on the table.
Although Trump once said he’d be happy to meet Kim Jong Un over a burger, engagement with Pyongyang currently seems unlikely emerge as a priority area for Washington.
Picture: Rodong Sinmun]]>
The reality is clear: North Korea wants to be recognized as a nuclear state, and is unlikely to abandon its nuclear weapons for security reasons in the present Northeast Asian security environment.
Six-Party Talks (SPT) involving the U.S., China, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas began in August 2003 to denuclearize the DPRK and establish a peace regime on the Korean peninsula, thereby maintaining security and stability in Northeast Asia. But the process has long been stalled since the Six-Party Talks failed to agree on a verification protocol in early December 2008.
This author has argued over the years that the six-party process is the best means to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue and that bilateral U.S.-DPRK talks are equally important to a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the DPRK’s nuclear issue: apre-requisite for building a peace regime on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia.
The SPT has produced three significant international agreements for denuclearizing the Korean peninsula: the September 19, 2005 “Statement of Principles”, the February 13, 2007 “Initial Actions of the Implementation of the Joint Statement,” and the October 3, 2007 “Agreement on Second Phase Actions.”
Although the September 19 agreement contained only the general principles for achieving the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, it marked the first multilateral agreement among the six parties.
The February 13 and October 3 agreements, however, provided specific steps toward implementing the September 19 agreement in a phased manner in line with the principle of “action for action.” Under the February 13 agreement, a three phase (initial actions, disablement, and dismantlement phases) roadmap was proposed for denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.
What can be done to resume the SPT?
When and if the new U.S. administration under President Trump adopts a policy of dialogue and negotiations toward Pyongyang, a restoration of the long-stalled Six-Party Talks will be possible, and inter-Korean reconciliation could come back to life once again.
In order to keep a policy of reconciliation and cooperation moving forward, the four key players (the U.S., China and the two Koreas) must have the will to create essential conditions for the Six-Party process. Prior to resumption of the long-stalled Six-Party Talks, the four players need to take the following measures to create favorable conditions for the restoration of the multilateral talks.
First, the ROK, the DPRK and the U.S. need to shift to a reconciliation and cooperation policy, discarding preconditions for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. Active dialogue among the three parties will promote favorable conditions for restoration of the SPT: the preconditions that each party has set for the talks have actually become major obstacles to the six-party process.
These pre-conditions need to be removed. The DPRK and China are willing to return to the Six-Party Talks without preconditions, although Pyongyang continues to demand a bilateral meeting with the U.S. first. At the same time, the U.S. and South Korea have demanded an improvement in inter-Korean relations and “meaningful” advances in North Korea’s denuclearization as preconditions for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. As long as these three parties insist on these preconditions, the Six-Party Talks are unlikely to be restored.
Second, it is desirable that China, as Chair of the Six-Party Talks, plays a proactive role in the denuclearization process. In accordance with the September 19 joint statement and subsequent agreements, China needs to exercise its considerable influence on North Korea to fulfill the denuclearization agreements in good faith and at the same time should play an active mediation role in persuading other participants in the Six-Party Talks to implement their denuclearization agreements sincerely as well.
The ROK, the DPRK and the U.S. need to shift to a reconciliation and cooperation policy, discarding preconditions for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks.
Third, the U.S. needs to resume a policy of re-engagement with North Korea, and abandon its “strategic patience” policy. In this author’s view, the strategic patience policy, waiting indefinitely with patience until North Korea will move first, is ineffective and unrealistic. United States’ efforts to resume the Six-Party Talks for the last eight years were passive. Obama’s North Korea policy were counterproductive, inefficient and a failure.
Thus, it is desirable that the Trump administration needs to seek re-engagement with North Korea to resolve North’s nuclear issue.
Fourth, UN sanctions on North Korea and the “stick” have not changed North Korea’s behavior. Therefore, the four key players (U.S., China and the two Koreas) should pursue positively a re-engagement policy of reconciliation and cooperation among the four parties. Without constructive dialogue and negotiations among the four, Six-Party Talks will die.
The U.S. and the ROK should develop a new joint strategy through separate bilateral talks with the DPRK to accelerate the denuclearization process, while concurrently building a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. The six parties should clearly understand once again that the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and a peace regime building in Northeast Asia can be achieved in parallel only through the six party process.
What should be on the agenda for the next round of the SPT?
The SPT must first adopt a written verification protocol, which should be a top priority on the agenda. All measures contained in the verification protocol should apply not only to the DPRK’s plutonium-based program but to any uranium enrichment and proliferation activities as well. At least two key issues need to be resolved.
First, figures on North Korea’s plutonium production and HEU program have yet to be fully verified. How much plutonium has the DPRK produced and consumed for the five nuclear tests? How much enriched uranium has it produced? Prior to December 2008, Pyongyang handed over to Washington some 18,000 pages of documentation from its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, but actual inspections and sampling were required to verify this data. Additional North Korean nuclear data is required.
Second, there is the issue of the dismantlement and elimination of DPRK’s nuclear weapons. The DPRK will not easily give up its existing nuclear weapons because they have served as a means for strengthening DPRK’s international prestige and defending its system domestically.
The SPT must first adopt a written verification protocol, which should be a top priority on the agenda
But the DPRK has repeated its position that it would give up nuclear weapons in return for U.S. abandonment of its “hostile policy toward the DPRK” and guarantees on its system.
From the North Korea’s perspective, it may propose the following key issues to be discussed prior to the dismantlement stage in order of priority: (1) the lifting of international sanctions; (2) a peace treaty replacing the Korean armistice agreement; (3) the normalization of DPRK-U.S. relations; (4) the recognition of the DPRK as a nuclear state; and (5) the denuclearization of the entire Korean peninsula, including inspections and verification of U.S. military bases in South Korea.
The author’s proposed roadmap for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
The author’s proposal for a three-phase roadmap for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is as follows:
Phase 1: Shutdown of North Korea’s nuclear programs
The DPRK should make a complete declaration of all its nuclear programs and freeze all nuclear activities in accordance with the initial action plan agreed in the February 13, 2007 deal and the U.S.-DPRK agreement of February 29, 2012. The DPRK must rejoin the NPT and allow the IAEA’s special inspections of North Korea’s nuclear facilities.
Phase 2: Disablement of nuclear facilities
The DPRK implemented the February 13, 2007 initial actions agreement on eventual dismantlement of nuclear weapons and nuclear facilities in a phase-way until December 2008. The IAEA should inspect and verify disabled nuclear programs and North Korea’s past nuclear activities. At the same time, talks should proceed on U.S.-DPRK normalization and DPRK-Japan normalization.
Phase 3 Nuclear dismantlement and conclusion of a “Six-Parties’ Korean Peninsula Denuclearization Agreement”
Nuclear dismantlement will be required in the third phase, during which the six parties should conclude a denuclearization guarantee agreement in which, institutional and legal arrangements for enforcement measures for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula should be contained.
The IAEA should inspect and verify disabled nuclear programs and North Korea’s past nuclear activities
The six participants should sign a multilateral agreement in which North Korea would completely dismantle its nuclear programs in exchange for multilateral security guarantees and economic assistance to North Korea. This agreement should be registered with the United Nations Secretariat. Massive economic assistance to North Korea will be provided, and U.S.-DPRK and Japan-DPRK normalization agreements will be signed at this phase. The Korean peninsula peace treaty will be considered at this stage.
Is all this possible?
There will be a long and bumpy road ahead to the complete, verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. It is desirable that the two Koreas need to play key roles in resolving the Korean question through inter-Korean confidence-building measures and cooperation. It remains to be seen if the DPRK, ROK and U.S. will actually take constructive actions. As of this writing, it is very foggy even to guess when to return to the six-party process.
If the U.S. and the ROK maintain current strategies, there will be no denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Thus, the Trump administration and the new ROK government need to map out a new joint strategy to deal with a nuclear North Korea.
In a statement on “Chinese bullying of South Korea,” McCain attacked Xi for delivering a “hollow lecture” on the importance of free trade, referring to Xi’s speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Tuesday.
“The communist leader even invoked Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, an allusion that can only be explained by either a supreme lack of self-awareness or willful hypocrisy,” McCain said in a written statement.
Xi vowed to “advance the building of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific”, arguing that “Development is of the people, by the people and for the people.”
McCain argued China “is escalating its campaign of economic retaliation” against THAAD deployment.
“China has cut off charter flights from South Korea, banned imports of South Korean cosmetics and other products, outlawed South Korean music, and threatened South Korean companies.”
“China has done all of this to stop the deployment of a missile defense system, which is only necessary because China has aided and abetted North Korea for decades.”
Chinese bullying #SouthKorea unacceptable – hope new admin ensures US abides by security commitments in Asia-Pacific https://t.co/HRDf6aC57p
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) January 19, 2017
South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) said on January 4 that the Chinese government had disapproved applications by South Korean airlines including Asiana Airlines, Jeju Air and Jin Air, an affiliate of national flag carrier Korean Air Lines, to increase charter flights between the two countries.
China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) on January 3 also announced a list of 28 disqualified cosmetic products, which included 19 South Korean products.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency on Friday reported that four South Korean-produced air purifiers out of a total eight products had been disqualified by AQSIQ, followed by an embargo on bidets manufactured in the South.
“Actions speak louder than words,” McCain said.
“If China believes in free trade and has genuine concerns about the deployment of THAAD in South Korea, it should cease its attempts to undermine South Korea’s sovereign ability to defend itself and use its considerable influence to pressure North Korea to stop its destabilizing behavior.”
In response to China’s trade reprisals, South Korea’s Ministry of Strategy and Finance (MOSF) announced on Friday it would establish subcommittees, organized by industrial sector, to determine its response.
But both South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and MOSF have struck a cautious tone on China’s trade embargo.
Asked whether the government would make a formal complaint about China’s import ban, MOFA said on Thursday it “kept close tabs” on “various restrictive measures” and consider “multifaceted measures at the government level” without providing further details.
“Our government believes that a specific issue should not affect the development and the whole situation of bilateral relations,” Cho June-hyuck, an MOFA spokesperson, told reporters during a regular news briefing.
“[We] especially think we should continue and improve economic, cultural and personal exchange and cooperation which are the foundation of bilateral ties,” Cho said. “And we are in in the process of continuing consultation with Chinese counterpart as maintaining the position.”
Cho’s comments came in response to South Korean Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho’s claim that the South Korean government “can’t make a hasty generalization.”
Amid Chinese moves against South Korean businesses, the Lotte Group is known to have agreed to exchange a Lotte golf course, intended to be the site for the THAAD system, with military-owned land in Namyangju of Gyeonggi Province, multiple South Korean media outlets reported on Friday.
The new deployment site for the THAAD system was finalized in September as the Lotte Skyhill Seongju Country Club, a golf course in Gyeongsangbuk-do Province.
“[We] will proceed with the work with an aim to hold a board meeting in February,” Yonhap News Agency reported an anonymous senior official at Lotte Group as having said.
The Lotte Group, contacted by NK News, declined to comment.
Featured Image: United States Department of State]]>
In his annual New Year speech, Kim Jong Un said that North Korea was finishing preparations for a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. It was implied, but not said explicitly, that such an ICBM will be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental U.S.
Donald Trump reacted in his usual manner, by tweeting: “North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won’t happen!”
The President-elect’s remark can be understood in three ways. First, it can be read as a claim that North Korea was, essentially, bluffing. Second, it could be construed as a signal that the U.S. administration will somehow prevent such a launch through the diplomatic measures. Third, it could be seen as a sign of a pre-emptive possible military strike against North Korea.
The first two explanations do not look particularly plausible.
TAKING PYONGYANG AT ITS WORD
North Korean engineers, working hard, have demonstrated that they are likely capable of launching an ICBM. After all, they successfully tested a submarine-based ballistic missile SLBM, developed in merely few years, and conducted a number of ballistic missile launches. Given their track record, it seems that designing the ICBM mentioned by Kim Jong Un in his New Year Address is merely a question of time – and a rather short time, perhaps.
It would be naïve to pin too much hope on diplomacy. Both soft lines and hard lines have been tried, alternatingly, many times – and both failed. Right now, hopes are pinned on sanctions, but, given the increasingly tense state of relations between Washington and Beijing, one should not expect that China will become a zealous participant in this project.
This leaves us with the third option: a pre-emptive strike against North Korea’s nuclear and missile production and development facilities. Such an option, taboo for many years, is now being widely discussed: for the first time, perhaps, since the first nuclear crisis of the early 1990s. It is telling, for example, that Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, mentioned such a possibility in a recent article in Foreign Affairs.
It would naïve to pin too much hope on diplomacy
Indeed, if North Korean nuclear development proceeds with its current speed, at some point in his presidency Donald Trump is going to be briefed that North Korea has successfully tested an ICBM, and begun preparations for the deployment of a force of, say, one or two dozens ICBMs in silos or on mobile launchers, perhaps augmented with 2-3 SLBM-armed submarines cruising somewhere in Pacific.
Such a force would be able to partially survive a U.S. non-nuclear strike and then deliver a devastating attack against American cities. This will mean that North Korea will become the third country in the world, after China and Russia, capable of annihilating Chicago or LA, if this is what the leader deems necessary.
How will the U.S. President react to such news – especially given that he will likely have a few months (or more) before the North Koreans complete actual deployment?
The temptation to strike preemptively, to wipe out the “clear and present danger” will be high, especially for a person with Donald Trump’s personality and support base.
Unfortunately, there are some valid reasons to argue in favor of such a solution, if one concentrates exclusively on U.S. short-and mid-term interests alone.
While a politically stable North Korea is highly unlikely to unleash a nuclear holocaust, an outbreak of serious instability might prompt Pyongyang to take extreme measures, both in order to deliver revenge and to create chaos which might give the regime some chance to survive a crisis.
However, there are equally valid reasons for the U.S. not to conduct a pre-emptive strike. The problem is that such a strike, if delivered, is likely to provoke a large-scale war at worst, and will destroy the U.S.-ROK alliance at best.
Of course, when we are talking about a strike, we are not talking about a full-scale war which is, clearly, not part of U.S. plans. Most likely, the preemptive strike will be similar to what Israel did to Iraq in 1981 and, again, to Syria in 2007 – a sudden and massive air strike against missile and nuclear research centers, test sites, production facilities and military bases.
Many of these targets are unknown, and many more are well-protected underground, but even a partial destruction of infrastructure is likely to paralyze the North Korean nuclear program for years.
But how will the North Koreans react to such an attack? First of all, it is possible that they will just bite the bullet, afraid that any ‘kinetic’ reaction will merely lead to further escalation. However, it appears more likely that they will not turn the other cheek (they never do), but will retaliate.
Since the North Koreans will be unable to hit the U.S., they are likely to satisfy themselves with the second best target: South Korea and, especially, Greater Seoul, the megacity which includes Seoul and its satellite towns and is home to some 24 million people, half of South Korea’s entire population.
Greater Seoul is located near the DMZ, so its entire territory is within shooting range of North Korean heavy artillery – amassed not far away.
Of course, when we are talking about a strike, we are not talking about a full-scale war
A massive artillery barrage, delivered by the KPA’s 200-300 heavy guns, would leave thousands dead and destroy large areas in Seoul. Most likely, it will trigger a massive counter-strike by the South Korean military which, probably, will escalate into a Second Korean War.
The U.S. would be pulled into such a conflict immediately, and one cannot be sure whether other players, including China, will stay away.
However, even if North Korean shelling does not provoke a full-scale conflict, it will deliver a deadly blow to the U.S.-ROK alliance.
For the South Koreans, who will be woken by the sounds of explosions in their neighborhood, things will look crystal clear: in order to prevent a hypothetical threat to themselves, the U.S. put its ROK partners in grave danger.
After such an incident, the alliance is likely to become shaky or even disappear completely.
For a majority of U.S. presidents, the fate of Seoul and future of the U.S.-ROK alliance have been worries strong enough to discard the very thought of a pre-emptive strike, but it remains unclear to what extent such issues matter to Donald Trump.
After all, during his campaign the President-elect repeatedly expressed his disapproval of the alliance system, and specifically scorned the U.S.-ROK alliance.
WILL ACTION MATCH RHETORIC?
One can expect that the very real threat of an escalation will be enough to stop the U.S. administration from ‘going kinetic.’ No U.S. president would be happy about unleashing a major war in East Asia – especially a war which is certain to produce a significant number of U.S. casualties.
Admittedly, though, one cannot rule out that the tough stance and threatening remarks are, above all, negotiation tactics – curiously, the same tactics that North Koreans have applied to the world for a long time and with great success.
Trump and his advisers might hope that bellicosity of their rhetoric, combined with their reputation for unpredictability, will push North Koreans towards the negotiation table. Once again, if this is indeed the case, we face a curious reversal of the pattern the world has seen for last few decades.
No U.S. president would be happy about unleashing a major war in East Asia
However, even if this is indeed the case, one should not pin too much hope on the success of such negotiations. As long as the U.S. consider “complete, irreversible and verifiable de-nuclearization” as the only acceptable outcome, negotiations are bound to fail.
No matter what, the North Korean government will not surrender the nuclear weapons they see as the only guarantee of their security, political and personal survival.
The only realistic compromise is a nuclear freeze, but at the current stage, it is doubtful that any of the two sides will even consider such an option – both are likely to perceive a freeze as an unwarranted and unacceptable concession to their adversary.
It is likely that the next few years will be a very dramatic period in the history of intra-Korean relations. More and more signs are emerging that we should prepare for a tough ride.
But this isn’t a video put together by the small, if dedicated, pro-North Korean communists who are out there, the Korean Friendship Association, or “tankies” as they’re called by frustrated fellow travelers on the left.
No, this is an episode of a web series called “The Daily Traditionalist”, hosted by Matthew Heimbach, chairman of the Traditionalist Worker Party, a fan of the Confederacy, and a man described by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a key figure in “a new generation of white nationalists”.
Heimbach has called for people in mixed-race relationships to be sent to “re-education centers,” described LGBT people as “degenerate,” and described himself as being engaged in a struggle against “International Jewry.”
The comments, it seems, agree – or are at least taken with the idea of white nationalist solidarity with the DPRK.
“Agreed,” one writes, in a comment consistent with many of their fellow travelers. “The real war is between Nationalism and Globalism.”
“Globalism goes against all that is normal and natural. Nationalism always has and will win the future – God and Nature have ordained this to be – We Nationalists will win.”
Heimbach is affiliated with what’s become known as the “alt-right”, a very loosely affiliated online movement of white nationalists, paleo-conservatives, and nihilists who have emerged from the shadows to tie their fortunes to what might be the strangest and most unpredictable candidate in history: Donald Trump.
Heimbach is not affiliated with Donald Trump – indeed, he did not officially endorse him – but he welcomed his election, as did many of his fellow travelers.
The election of Donald J. Trump as President in November last year came as shock to almost everyone, not least the U.S. liberal media establishment. Convinced that President Clinton looked set to be ordained as commander-in-chief, many were, understandably, upset when a brash former reality TV star and billionaire emerged triumphant.
But while experts insist that, at least in the short term, Korea policy is not set to change dramatically in the first few months of the new administration, many have found themselves scrambling to understand how the man will use American power in Asia.
The President-elect himself has had words of praise for the DPRK. While stipulating that Kim Jong Un is a “maniac,” Trump saw plenty to admire in the North Korean leader’s swift ascent to power in late 2011.
“You know, it’s pretty amazing when you think of it,” he told a crowd in Iowa in January last year. “How does he do that? Even though it is a culture and it’s a cultural thing, he goes in, he takes over, and he’s the boss. It’s incredible.”
The President-elect himself has had words of praise for the DPRK
“LET CHINA TAKE CARE OF IT”
But as Trump has grown closer to the White House, his position has become a little more muddled. At various times, the President-elect has suggested that China should intervene against the DPRK, suggested that U.S. troops could be withdrawn from South Korea, and expressed support for the nuclearization of Japan and South Korea.
Indeed, the messages from the Trump camp, or at least those associated with it, have been mixed.
In November, the New York Times reported that the President-elect’s nominee for National Security Advisor – a critical role in the White House formerly held by Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, to name a few – Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn had some rather off-the-wall opinions about the DPRK.
North Korea, he argued in his February book “The Field of Fight”, was part of a global alliance with China and radical “Islamist” movements to undermine the United States.
“The war is on,” he writes. “We face a working coalition that extends from North Korea and China to Russia, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua. We are under attack, not only from nation-states directly, but also from Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, ISIS and countless other terrorist groups.”
“Suffice to say, the same sort of cooperation binds together jihadis, Communists and garden-variety tyrants.”
But as is the case with Heimbach, the further you go into Trump’s more fringe sympathizers the more likely you are to find more unconventional views on North Korea.
Nationalist culture ✓
Policies for racial purity ✓
Opposes Globalism ✓
Happy Independence Day North Korea! pic.twitter.com/y7qY1UzAgv
— Matthew Heimbach (@MatthewHeimbach) September 9, 2016
Heimbach’s Twitter account has since been suspended
DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
NK News has previously covered the odd connections and ideological sympathies that have linked the American far-right to North Korea, united in a contempt for the globalist world order and the supposed decadence of liberal democratic systems of government.
It’s a strange network of political allegiances that has seen members of the British far-right express support for the late-Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and seen North Korea send arms to the Islamic separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philipines. As Heimbach says, in the 21st century, it’s not about ideology so much as opposition to the liberal democratic world order.
The further you go into Trump’s more fringe supporters the more likely you are to find more unconventional views on North Korea
An expert on these worldviews, in which it’s essential to contextualize support for North Korea among some members of the alt-right, is George Michael, a professor of criminal justice at Westfield State University and an expert on extremism.
“Generally speaking, the far right has been quite strident in rejecting measures that might lead to a resumption of the Cold War,” he says, pointing to the well-documented connections between Donald Trump and the Kremlin.
“The far right sees Putin as a strong, nationalist leader who threatens the New World Order which they despise. Moreover, as a largely white country, the far right sees Russia as one of the few remaining white great powers in the world today.”
But more often than not these sympathizers in the United States have seemed confused: praising North Korea one minute, converting to Islam and praising Al Qaeda the next. That their worldviews would have any connection to the White House would be laughable.
But this is no longer the case.
“Anecdotal evidence suggests that people who identify with the alt-right were some of Trump’s most enthusiastic, loyal, and hard-working foot soldiers in the primaries and general election,” says Michael.
In the 21st century, it’s not about ideology so much as opposition to the liberal democratic world order
CLOSE TO THE WHITE HOUSE
The alt-right is not inconsequential. Some of the largest groups of supporters of the President-elect’s campaign were – until it seems to have been shut down – the Reddit forum r/thedonald, which boasted tens of millions of page views a day and Breitbart, the bible of the movement, which received up to 85 million views a month in the weeks leading up to the U.S. election.
Breitbart now has a man in the White House: Trump’s highly controversial pick for head of strategy in the brave new White House was Steven Bannon, who described the site, for which he was CEO, as “the platform for the alt-right”.
NK News reached out to Richard Spencer, leader of the white nationalist National Policy Institute, and a leading figure in the alt-right.
Spencer describes himself as an “identitarian”, but the SPLC reports he has called for “peaceful ethnic cleansing” and describes him as “a radical white separatist”. He is also the man behind the phrase “alt-right”, at least that’s what he claims.
Since then, he’s been cited as the presentable face of an online movement which, once confined to darker corners of the internet, has taken its brand of rage to the national stage.
The alt-right is not inconsequential
Spencer was known by many during Trump’s campaign, but it was a video released a week after his election to the presidency which gained him international notoriety. In the video, he attacks critics of his movement as “Cucks” (a common alt-right epithet for opponents), and “Golem” (a reference to a Jewish myth about a monster conjured to defend communities from anti-semitic attacks).
What caught most people’s attention, however, was his declaration of “Hail Trump, hail our people!” as members of the crowd performed fascist salutes – an incident Spencer later described as “clearly done in a spirit of irony and exuberance.”
Trump quickly disavowed these supporters.
Speaking to NK News over email, Spencer said he was concerned that Trump was filling his White House team with too many throwbacks to the Bush years, but argues that recent appointments, such as those of Steve Bannon and ultraconservative Senator Jeff Sessions were “daring”.
And what of North Korea?
“My perspective on North Korea is two-fold,” he argues. “I would advocate a gradual but unequivocal withdrawal of U.S. troops from the peninsula and a declaration of an end to hostilities.”
“I would then advocate a process of ‘off-shoring’ the North Korea Question: China, South Korea, and Japan are much better suited to dealing with the threat of North Korea—or even a potential Korean reunification—than the United States. It’s not our problem.”
Some are less concerned about North Korea. Jared Taylor, editor of the “race realist” American Renaissance and a man once described as the “intellectual godfather” of the alt-right, told NK News, through an assistant over email, that he has “has no particular views on North Korea”.
Apathetic or not, this is certainly not the traditional position of the American hard-right, which has historically seen North Korea as a bastion of Soviet-style Communism and a branch of the “Evil Empire” in East Asia. But times are changing, and under Trump, the more nationalist and isolationist tendencies in conservatism have returned to the fore.
THE CLEANEST RACE?
Matthew Heimbach, when contacted by NK News, is happy to discuss his views on North Korea, which go beyond simply advocating a non-interventionist approach and venture into sympathy for the country’s politics.
“The DPRK has been lied about for decades in the Western press to justify crushing sanctions and a hostile Western orientation against North Korea,” he says in an email. “The West hates North Korea because it is an independent nation that has resisted globalism and the international banking system.”
“As nations like Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt and Libya have all fallen to globalist ‘regime changes’ in recent years, the DPRK has remained free and independent.”
This is certainly not the traditional position of the American hard-right
While Cold Warriors might maintain that North Korea remains a throwback threat to the United States, Heimbach argues that the real conflict of the 21st Century is not between capitalism and communism, but between globalism and nationalism.
“Many American nationalists are still stuck in the 20th or even 19th century paleo-colonial mindset,” he says. “A lifetime of fierce anti-Communist indoctrination is difficult for many older folks to shake off.”
“Since the end of the Cold War, the far right has been quite isolationist, criticizing intervention in the Middle East and meddling in Russian affairs,” explains Michael. “The noted conservative columnist, Pat Buchanan, has long called for a retrenchment of U.S. intervention around the world.”
“Donald Trump’s outlook on global affairs seems to reflect much of this sentiment, as evidenced for example, by his reluctance to fully embrace NATO for fiscal reasons and fears of possible entanglement in European regional conflicts.”
Surprisingly, Heimbach, as do many of the commenters who agreed with his pro-North sympathies, have done their homework. Many cite “The Cleanest Race” by North Korea scholar B.R. Myers (an occasional NK News contributor), as evidence the DPRK is an ally, not an enemy.
“Since the end of the Cold War, the far right has been quite isolationist”
For those who haven’t read it, Myers’ argument is an interesting one: that North Korea’s political system, because of its roots in the Japanese Imperial Occupation of the Korean peninsula, is less comparable to a traditional communist, Marxist-Leninist state, but rather a fascist one. Look at the country’s militarism, Myers argues, or its fixation on racial purity: this isn’t a communist society.
“It almost sounds like you want to know why far-right people like a far-right state!” says Myers in an email, when contacted by NK News to find out how a Green Party-supporting Vegan feels about his work being cited by the far-right.
“The philosophy of Juche is a nationalist set of principles that is a form of Social Nationalism for the Korean people and culture,” says Heimbach. “The DPRK is not a Communist State, having removed all references to Marxism in their 2008 Constitution. Instead it is a nationalist state with strong elements of socialism.”
“Something astonishing has happened,” Don Advo, a prominent alt-right figure and a contributor to the highly racist Daily Stormer (named for the Nazi Party of Germany’s Der Stürmer), announced on the radio show of David Duke, the notorious former Ku Klux Klan leader, former Louisiana state representative, and one-time Republican candidate for governor of the state. “We appear to have taken over the Republican Party.”
Duke is another white nationalist and vocal supporter of Trump who’s defended North Korea in the past.
In a 2014 article on his website, Duke argues that while North Korea is “obviously a repressive state”, its human rights record is nothing in comparison to the State of Israel, and argues the DPRK has been a victim of a smear campaign by the “Zio media.”
“It almost sounds like you want to know why far-right people like a far-right state!”
“The American government’s continuous hostility towards North Korea is based on the same reason as the U.S.’s hostility towards Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Basheer Assad in Syria, and the Iranian state—namely, that all those nations are hostile to Israel.”
“Viewed in this light, it becomes obvious why the U.S. government—controlled as it is by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Jewish campaign funding, and directed by the Jewish Supremacist-controlled mass media—is so hostile to North Korea.”
The alt-right is not a monolithic movement. Those affiliated with it range from the moderate to hardcore racists and fascists. There’s a broad scope of opinion, needless to say, with the unifying factor being support for their “God Emperor” Donald Trump.
Any influence the movement as a whole will have on the Trump White House is unclear for now. But the alt-right is now, much to the joy of its supporters, at least tipped to play a small role in the new administration.
With the appointment of Steve Bannon (who once allegedly said he didn’t want his children to go to school with “whiny” Jews), they have hardly been excluded from the government that will run the most powerful nation in the world.
Bannon’s website, after all, praised Richard Spencer as “dangerously bright” and described comparisons to Neo-Nazis as “idiotic.”
And, while Trump has talked of his intention to have a hamburger with Kim Jong Un, Heimbach goes even further.
“If I had an invitation to visit the DPRK, I would happily accept that invitation to represent the Traditionalist Worker Party and show unity with a fellow nationalist movement,” he says.
Whether the North Koreans would be willing to welcome Heimbach and his burly comrades to Pyongyang is another question.
Additional reporting: Benjamin R. Young
Featured image: SPLC]]>
Being limited to 140 characters, Twitter is not exactly an appropriate platform for nuanced policy announcements. So it is not entirely clear what Trump meant when he said: “it won’t happen.”
Did he mean that he doubts North Korea possesses the technical capability to develop an ICBM? Or did he mean that even if North Korea could develop such a weapon, missile defense would be capable of defending the U.S. from a North Korean attack? Or did he mean that he would make sure to pursue policies that would prevent North Korea from developing an ICBM? If so, what policies would he pursue?
The fact of the matter is that no one can be certain. In fact, it is not at all clear if Trump himself knows for certain what he means. All one can do in regards to whatever Donald Trump says is to project their own wishes.
This is exactly what the South Korean government did when it interpreted the tweet to mean that it was a “clear warning” to North Korea that shows he is “aware of the urgency of the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program and will not waver from a policy of sanctions against” the DPRK.
That anyone can claim to have a clear understanding of what Trump thinks is quite astounding – least of all when such a claim is made by the headless and rudderless South Korean government.
In the final days of the Obama administration and under the temporary stewardship of Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, both the U.S. and South Korea have attempted to speak with a united voice in regards to North Korea.
For his part, Prime Minister Hwang said that THAAD, which has once again come into contention with President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment and the rising possibility of its opponents occupying the Blue House after the next election, ought to be deployed as soon as possible.
It is not at all clear if Trump himself knows for certain what he means
As for President Obama, despite having done little about North Korea during his eight years in office, at least told the incoming Trump administration that he thinks that North Korea should become its “top national security priority.”
However, all of this amounts to nothing more than one final roar; and a feeble one at that. In a matter of days, it may as well as have never happened.
Donald Trump is a blustering intellectual lightweight whose greatest political feat so far has been tweeting his way into the White House while making nice with some of the world’s most pugnacious autocrats and shaking the very foundations of the world’s liberal order.
But some of his confirmed incoming cabinet members – especially Flynn, Mattis, and Navarro – are clearly his betters and will hopefully have a stronger impact on Trump’s presidency.
However, the problem with his incoming team is that they are all foreign policy hawks. Considering that sanctions have been the preferred go-to weapon of choice for the hawkish doves in the Obama administration, there is a growing sense of dread that the hawks in the Trump administration may attempt to escalate the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
The problem with his incoming team is that they are all foreign policy hawks
PROGRESSIVES IN SEOUL
Meanwhile, in Korea, President Park Geun-hye may have shown herself to be inept and possibly corrupt, but her policy towards North Korea, especially since its fourth nuclear test, has been nothing less than admirable.
Shutting down the Kaesong Industrial Complex may have been a mere token gesture to stop the flow of foreign money into the North Korean regime, but her government’s attempts to sever North Korea from its trade partners and push to impose U.N. and secondary sanctions were applaudable. It was a great pity that the U.S. State Department never matched the Park administration’s enthusiasm to contain North Korea.
Even in the unlikely event that South Korea’s Constitutional Court overturns her impeachment and reinstates President Park in office, she is now toxic and politically finished. Furthermore, seeing how fragmented the country’s conservatives are, it is increasingly becoming likely that South Korea’s next ruling government is going to be headed by a political party that has radically different views about how to deal with North Korea.
Positions vary among the progressive presidential candidates, but not by much. From reopening the Kaesong Industrial Complex, to pursuing Sunshine 2.0, to meeting face-to-face with Kim Jong Un, there is already a growing sense that within a few months, Seoul and Washington are headed for a clash.
THINKING THE UNTHINKABLE
However, this prediction does not seriously take the possibility of U.S.-led military strikes against North Korea. If the perception that the Trump administration has given up on a diplomatic approach continues to grow, South Korea’s threat perception will also change.
After all, should a conflict break out on the Korean Peninsula, the Seoul Capital Area, the beating heart of the entire peninsula that is home to more than 25 million people, would be reduced to rubble. To be sure, American casualties would also be significant but would be dwarfed by the number of Korean dead.
There is already a growing sense that within a few months, Seoul and Washington are headed for a clash
Whether or not the ROK-U.S. alliance and the post-armistice peace remain intact will depend heavily on how well these radically different leaders in Seoul and Washington manage to communicate with each other.
Will Washington be tempted to bomb North Korea? Will it bother to consult with Seoul? Will Seoul ignore Washington and pursue appeasement with North Korea? Will Seoul give in to Beijing’s demands and scrap its decision on THAAD? How would Washington react to that?
Under the best case scenario, the unbridgeable gap between the way Trump thinks is the best way to deal with North Korea and the future South Korean President’s view all but guarantees that the ROK-U.S. alliance will be less cordial at least over the next four years. Under the worst case scenario, however, the alliance itself may, over time, become history.]]>
Speaking at a confirmation hearing at the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Haley said Washington “has to work closely” with Beijing, describing China and Russia as “tough partners”.
“We still need both those countries. We’re going to need their help. We need China’s help when it comes to North Korea. We need Russia’s help when it comes to ISIS,” Haley told committee members at the three-hour and 20-minute confirmation hearing.
But Haley, the two-term Republican governor of South Carolina, said that the U.S. must be direct about what its “end goal” is.
“You see China right now pulling away from North Korea a bit because they see the missiles being built. They know what’s happening,” Haley said.
“And we just have to encourage them, this is not good for China. And then when we do that, that’s when you can start seeing more pressure being put on North Korea.”
When asked by Senator Cory Gardner what the U.S. has to do to make China more active in enforcing sanctions to denuclearize Pyongyang, Haley said Beijing “has already started to pull back economically.”
Pointing out that the country is the “greatest threat to North Korea”, the nominee said the U.S. must put themselves in China’s shoes if they are to convince Beijing to cooperate.
“What we have to do is let China know this affects [them]. This affects their region of the world. This affects us,” Haley said.
While the nominee argued the enforcement of sanctions “works better” when the U.S. works with other countries, she said that the U.S. would still have to take the initiative.
“Sanctions are only as good as if you enforce them. And clearly, there is more to do in North Korea. And when a line is crossed to not say anything is going to be a problem,” Haley said.
“If I can get China to help and really strengthen those sanctions, then we ‘make magic.’ And so, it is always going to be that we lead and we lead strongly,” Haley added. “North Korea will feel it if China puts the pressure on them. And I think that’s a very very important. Because it’s getting to a very dangerous situation.”
Following on from statements by administration nominees Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to the UN also pointed out the seriousness of the North Korean nuclear issue.
“North Korea is definitely one to watch… We can’t let up on North Korea. What we are seeing right now is production of nuclear weapons,” Haley said. “He (Kim Jong Un) does not care. He is going to continue to do it.”
Haley’s stance on China was more diplomatic that Tillerson’s.
Tillerson,nominee for Secretary of State, last week denounced China’s “empty promises” on North Korea and said he would consider action to “compel” China to comply with the United Nations sanctions.
Featured Image: CSPAN]]>
Hinting at its readiness to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at any time, the commentary was published amid ongoing rumors about the launch of two new ICBMs.
“It might be hard for Washington to admit this, but what can it do about the undeniable and evident facts?” Workers’ Party organ Rodong Sinmun said on Thursday. “To be honest, if the U.S. had listened to our advice and changed its DPRK policies, then maybe, it might not have to face humiliation like this today.”
“The U.S.’ nuclear-stick is not working against us at all. Instead, we, with the powerful and magnificent nuclear deterrence, are suppressing the U.S.’ anti-DPRK policies.”
Rodong’s editorial urged Pyongyang to test more ballistic missiles in the future, saying it was “right” for the North to increase its missile and nuclear capability to counter the U.S.
“The U.S. is clinging its last hope on sanctions and pressure, which are clearly not working at all. Now Washington has no cards left to pressure us,” it continued.
“Pretending to be a superpower, the U.S.’ dignity has collapsed to the ground. The U.S. can’t blame anyone else, as it only happened out of its fault of underestimating us and running amok.”
State media recently said that it is “not afraid of anything“, in a pointed attack on the incoming Trump Administration.
From what NK News has observed, the editorial released on Thursday was one of its most strident and belligerent anti-U.S. editorials so far this year.
“As we have the sword of victory called Byungjin Line, we are not afraid of anything… the U.S. is denouncing our final preparation stages for test-firing an ICMB as ‘provocation’ and ‘threat’… but it only sounds like a lifeless complaint,” the article said.
A researcher at Seoul’s state-run Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) said it would be unwise for Pyongyang to try and provoke the new, more unpredictable, administration.
“When engaging the next U.S. government, for Pyongyang, ‘conversation’ would be the best option,” Chung Kuyoun told NK News. “There are high chances that the Trump Administration will be far more unbending than the current one.”
The North Korean editorial came as Yonhap News reported that military sources had revealed that Pyongyang had “probably built two missiles presumed to be ICBMs and placed them on mobile launchers for test-firing in the near future.”
Yonhap’s news was quickly denied by MND deputy spokesperson Lee Jin-woo, who said: “until now, there is nothing confirmed about the media’s report this morning.”
Featured Image: KCNA]]>
Responding to a question from a local journalist about claims Pyongyang was preparing a “new-type” of road-mobile ICBM, MND deputy spokesperson Lee Jin-woo said “until now, there is nothing confirmed about the media’s report this morning.”
But the spokesperson suggested that the North could nevertheless conduct unspecified missile launches at any time.
“As accredited news reporters are well aware of the issue, [we] are maintaining readiness under the judgement that the North can launch [a missile] at any time and any place if the North’s leadership has determined.”
Earlier on Thursday, Yonhap News, South Korea’s government-affiliated news agency, said military sources revealed that Pyongyang had “probably built two missiles presumed to be ICBMs and placed them on mobile launchers for test-firing in the near future.”
“The two missiles are estimated to not exceed 15 meters in length, making them shorter than the North’s existing ICBMs, the 19-20 meter-long KN-08 and the 17-18 meter-long KN-14″ the sources told Yonhap. KN-08 and KN-14 refer to different versions of the Hwasong-13, which is either a road mobile or road transportable missile.
Later on Thursday South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper added that intelligence sources had observed missile parts – believed to be part of an ICBM but “different from a conventional Musudan missile in its length and shape” – being transported in-country.
Together, the rumors are notable due to the fact that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on January 1 declared that “the project of test-firing an intercontinental ballistic rocket enters into the final stage.”
The remark, forming part of his annual new year’s speech, caused consternation among North Korea watchers for marking the first time Kim had made clear his intention to develop a system capable of delivering nuclear warheads to the United States mainland.
“We are at the point where an actual ICBM test is realistic,” said Scott Lafoy on Thursday about the latest news, an NK Pro contributor with expertise on the DPRK’s missile programs.
But he said the reports and official government response might – for now – simply mean that ICBM parts have been moved to an assembly point for further testing, rather than for any imminent launch.
The data points revealed in the Yonhap report were confusing, he added. “A less than 15m missile that is not a Musudan, but is identified as a possible ICBM is a weird data point.
“That could mean it actually is a new type of missile (or a modification of an existing one), a misidentified/misreported missile, or the first stage of a larger missile”.
In 2016 North Korean state media notably made a point of repeatedly showcasing emerging technologies related to its nuclear weapons and missile delivery programs.
Melissa Hanham, a Senior Research Associate at the James Martin Center of Nonproliferation Studies, said open source indicators in 2016 showed that “North Korea is in the final stages of developing an ICBM.”
Pointing to multiple state media reports, she showed that repeated engine and heat-shield tests, as well as the demonstration of a nuclear warhead, meant that “flight tests” would be next on the North’s development path.
Coming ahead of president-elect Trump’s inauguration, the reports have spurred fears that Pyongyang may welcome the new administration with a test-launch of an ICBM , something which – if successful – would put the North Korea issue in primary focus for Washington.
Main picture: Rodong Sinmun
Additional reporting: Dagyum Ji]]>