“North Korea: an Absurd Case of Global Geopolitics?”, an article by Dr. Leonel Fernández

August 22, 2017

The regime of King Jong-un has launched 18 missiles during 12 tests of nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles in February 2017, in spite of the fact that upon his arrival to the White House, President Donald Trump stated that he would end the policy of diplomatic engagement with North Korea practiced by his predecessors.

Faced with this, President Trump reacted, indicating that he would unleash “fire and fury” over the Asian country,
“the likes of which this world has never seen.”

This threat engendered, in turn, an affirmation from North Korea that it would in a short time span launch missiles near Guam, where U.S. troops and a U.S. naval base are located.

Facing the escalating rhetoric, the world shuddered over the possibility of a nuclear conflagration, and the United Nations Security Council adopted measures of sanctions against the North Korean

Owing to the way that Kim Jong-un has proceeded, who since his 2011 accession to power has launched a greater quantity of ballistic missiles and tests of nuclear weapons than his father, Kim Jong-il, and his grandfather, Kim Il-Sung combined, some circles have begun to consider that he is acting in such an erratic and provocative manner that it borders on absurdity and irrationality.

But that is not the case. The actions of the so-called Supreme
Leader of North Korea correspond with rationality and a number of particular geostrategic objectives relating to the defense of his national interests, though they are not always well-understood and even less accepted in the Western world.

The idea is that due to the presence of over 30,000 United States soldiers in South Korea and approximately another 39,000 in Japan, which periodically engage in joint military exercises as demonstrations of force against North Korea,
the regime would not be able to survive politically if it didn’t possess nuclear capabilities to dissuade its adversaries.

The issue is, however, that due to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons endorsed in 1968, the possession of nuclear weapons is reserved for the five major world powers which make up the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, and China.

Shadows of the Past
That said, to completely understand the current situation of conflict in the Korean Peninsula and the role of the United States, it is important to take into consideration that Korea became a colony of Japan in the early 20th Century, and it wasn’t until the defeat of Japan in World War II, in 1945, that Korea won its independence.

But, due to the Soviet Army’s arrival in the northern part of
Korea before U.S. forces, the peninsula saw itself divided into two camps as a result of the beginning of the Cold War, with North Korea under the Soviet Union’s de-facto control and South Korea under the tutelage of the United States.

Three years after, in 1948, both Koreas declared themselves independent. However, in 1950, as a result of continuous border disputes raised between the two nations, and the North’s fear of eventually seeing itself
occupied by the United States, North Korea launched an attack with Soviet and Chinese support on South Korea, giving rise to the Korean War, which would end three years after, in 1953, with more than 2.5 million deaths.

North Korea and South Korea never signed a peace treaty to end the war: instead, an armistice agreement was signed which established a division of the peninsula at the 38th parallel. The United States has never diplomatically recognized North Korea, and
therefore, an historical conflict without definitive solution has prevailed on the Korean peninsula.

In the 1960s, during the reign of Kim Il-Sung, termed the ‘Eternal President of the Republic,’ North Korea, assisted by China and Russia, began to experience a process of economic transformation, which included the nationalization of foreign enterprises and the realization of large-scale agrarian reform.

Additionally, during those
years, North Korea began a process of industrial development which permitted it sustained economic growth and the initial stages of its program for the fabrication of nuclear weapons.

However, due to the collapse of the Soviet Union in the beginning of the 1990s as well as a string of natural disasters, North Korea entered into a period of economic stagnation and social deterioration.

Poverty extended throughout the country, and a lack of commodities
became prevalent. The result was a famine that led to the deaths of more than 2 million people. A shade extended over the Asian nation.

Calculated Risks
In the middle of this situation of virtual collapse, the authorities of North Korea began a process of dialogue with their counterparts in the south to explore the possibility of the reunification of the two Koreas, as had previously occurred in
Germany following the Fall of the Berlin Wall. As a result of the negotiations, the United States even removed its nuclear weapons from the south of the peninsula; and in spite of the 1994 passing of its historic leader, Kim Il-Sung, his child and successor Kim Jong-il made a step forward and signed the so-called Agreed Framework, under which his country promised to halt its nuclear weapons program in exchange for receiving assistance from the United States and the international

Notwithstanding, the Hermit Kingdom, as North Korea is sometimes called, continued, underground, with its program of uranium enrichment for the fabrication of nuclear weapons.

This led to a conflictive relationship with the administration of President George W. Bush in the United States, which came to consider North Korea as a part of the Axis of Evil, along with Iran and Iraq.

In 2003, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty and began to accelerate its program for the fabrication of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

With the arrival of Kim Jong-un into power in 2011, after the death of his father Kim Jong-il, 85 ballistic missile tests have been conducted. Some of these already have intercontinental capabilities, with the possibility of reaching the West Coast of the United States. Naturally, this represents a threat to the national security of the great world

In addition, during the current government of Kim Jong-un, various nuclear bombs have been tested. One of these holds two-thirds of the power of the nuclear bomb dropped over Hiroshima at the end of the Second World War.

Obviously, all of this has led to worry and uncertainty in the highest spheres of power in the United States. However, after the initial verbal onslaughts between the authorities of both nations, a more moderate tone has

This transmits the signal and leads to the general ease that before proceeding with a military assault, dialogue and negotiation will once again be granted priority.

This dialogue will seek to involve the collaboration of China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, none of which desires to see the eruption of the hell of a nuclear war over the Korean Peninsula.

It is evident that North Korea will not tolerate international
pressure to permanently dismantle its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. The experiences of Iraq and Libya have put it on a state of alert.

However, under the framework of negotiations, it is possible that a paralyzation of uranium enrichment, an end to the production of nuclear weapons, and a gradual elimination of ballistic missile and atomic bomb tests, are achieved.

It will be imperative that an agreement of this type is reached; since
it is obvious that for geostrategic reasons Russia and China, which share a border with North Korea, will not allow a collapse of the country’s regime, which would permit the United States to occupy the entire Korean Peninsula.

More than an absurdity or a lack of rationality, regime preservation and the defense of the national security of others are at play in the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, to guarantee peace and security in the world, it is a matter of
geopolitical reality that the powers of persuasion will have to be more potent than the explosion of any nuclear bomb.