In the middle of the raging gun debate in the United States, can we all pause for a moment and agree that everyone wants to take the guns—or missiles more specifically— from North Korea? Let’s have debates on the efficacy of gun free zones but is there anyone that would not be happy to see a nuclear free Korean peninsula ?
Kim confirmed, during a surprise trip to Beijing, that he is willing to meet with Trump. But is he already up to shenaningans?
On Wednesday satellites detected increased activity at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear test site, which may indicate that one or two new nuclear reactors are close to coming online. If these findings are verified, the reactors could prove capable of creating weapons-grade nuclear material.
Analysts concede they are unable to glean exactly what is happening at Yongbyon based solely on satellite photos, but their best guess is that a new light-water reactor is undergoing preliminary tests and could suddenly become operational either this year or by 2019. The North Koreans have insisted for years that this reactor is intended to only provide electricity for civilian use.
But there are also indications of a second reactor, which appears to be generating steam despite efforts to hide it from satellites. This reactor is believed to be more powerful and more likely capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium.
Analysts believe North Korea could quadruple its plutonium production with output from these facilities.
President Trump’s new National Security Adviser John Bolton told reporters that as long as the enormous Yongbyon facility is operational it would be difficult to trust denuclearization promises from North Korea, since it would never be far from restarting the reactor and producing nuclear bomb materials. Bolton has suggested destroying the Yongbyon reactor the way Israel took out comparably dangerous facilities in Syria and Iraq.
Denuclearization talks are likely to include strict requirements that North Korea accept international inspectors to carefully monitor activity at the reactor. To date North Korean has always refused this demand.
It might be difficult for Kim to accept some of the conditions that will be on the table negotiating after years of telling the world that the DPRK’s nuclear program is entirely peaceful. The potential loss of face may also provide a roadblock —since North Korea has never wavered from it’s portrayal of its nuclear weapons as a “treasured sword of justice” — a sword that the regime is divinely entitled to wield against the hostile United States and puppet governments like South Korea and Japan.
To save face, Kim will want to strike a deal that gives the perception of a surrender by the West. Then he can “magnanimously” begin to scale back nuclear weapons activity. He will be able to say he has achieved his objectives and decided further research and development are unnecessary. This may also explain why Kim recently floated trial balloons that his father and grandfather secretly dreamed of denuclearization—so he can claim to his people that he is merely fulfilling the great destiny he inherited.
What Say You SOFREP? What does Kim need and want to make this deal happen? Sound off in the comments.