According To Analysts, Time Is Running Out For Trump's Diplomacy With North Korea

The clock continues to advance.

Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, has said that the United States has until the end of the year to make a new proposal that will unlock the negotiations, hitherto stalled, to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

The impending deadline – on which North Korea has repeatedly warned – carries the implicit threat that the country could resume its worrisome behavior of the past and end the self-imposed suspension of nuclear tests and the launch of long-range missiles capable of Get to some cities in the United States. On December 28, he launched two short-range rockets, his thirteenth rocket or missile test since May.

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"We are sitting on top of an active volcano," he said this month during a conference at Yonsei University in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, Robert L. Carlin, a former nuclear negotiator at the State Department and observer of North Korea has long been describing a rapidly deteriorating situation on the peninsula. "We don't have much time to go back."

Last month, North Korea warned that the Trump administration should not even “dream about” talking about denuclearization without first eliminating its “hostile” policies, which include suffocating economic sanctions. He promised "exemplary punishment" if Washington does not respect the end of the year.

It seems that senior US diplomats do not share that urgency. For them, it's just a pose.

“I don't remember that a deadline had been set. Are we talking about North Koreans? ”David R. Stilwell, deputy secretary of state for matters in East Asia and the Pacific, told reporters in Tokyo last month, admitting he had no knowledge of the deadline. "But I would say that North Koreans bluff a lot."

When Washington has referred to the January deadline, it has qualified it as an "artificial" deadline. And that makes analysts fear that another crisis will erupt on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea has not been explicit about what could happen after December 31, but Kim has warned that he will find a "new path" if Washington persists with sanctions and tries to push for an unacceptable denuclearization agreement.

Some analysts point out that the deadline shows how much Kim wants an agreement to be able to promise his people the lifting of sanctions and the reconstruction of the country's weakened economy. They point out that North Korea's increasingly urgent statements in recent weeks are aimed at pressuring Washington to return to the negotiating table with a more flexible proposal.

"The North Koreans are telling the United States: 'We will have to do something very bad unless you do something for us by the end of the year, so please help us stop,'" Kim Hyung-ki, former unification minister said last month. from South Korea, during a forum in Seoul.

According to analysts, Kim's "new path" could be to re-test the nuclear artifacts and intercontinental ballistic missiles (or ICBM). Trump has often presumed the suspension of evidence, saying it is the greatest achievement of his intermittent diplomacy with Kim. Recently, the United States and South Korea decided to postpone a joint air force exercise that has troubled North Korea.

If North Korea launches another long-range missile, it will result in more sanctions from the United Nations. It would also generate severe reactions from Washington, perhaps even a return to the "fire and fury" threats Trump used to use when it seemed that the United States and North Korea were on the brink of war.

Other analysts say Kim is more likely to first take measures that do not violate the suspension of nuclear tests or long-range missiles, but that do send a strong message to Washington. These could include restarting the plutonium production reactors in Yingbyon, 95 kilometers north of Pionyang, the capital, or launching short or medium range missiles.

A nuclear or ICBM test would also bother China at a time when Kim needs your help more than ever to mitigate the suffering of international sanctions. According to the Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency in Seoul, which cited data from Chinese customs, last year, 1.2 million Chinese tourists visited North Korea, a 50 percent increase from 2017, and they brought money that Pionyang needed a lot.

If Kim ends his diplomatic relations with Trump, he could, at least in the short term, "step out of the way with the help of China," said Lee Jung-chul, a North Korean expert at Soongsil University in Seoul. "It would be difficult for North Korea to try to launch provocations, given the importance of its relations with China."

North Korea has not specified what it seeks by demanding that Washington suspend its "hostile policy." He has long indicated that he wants international sanctions to be lifted and military exercises between the United States and South Korea to end. In the past, he has also requested that the United States conclude its military presence in and around South Korea.

But in recent statements, North Korea has only hardened its demands and further reduced the chances of dialogue.

He said he had already taken enough steps to build trust, such as the suspension of evidence, the closure of its underground facilities for nuclear tests and the return of US remains of the Korean war. He pointed out that Trump should not expect any more “to show off” gifts and that, instead, he should keep the promises he made at the Singapore summit last year with Kim, how to end the joint systematic exercises with South Korea that they consider as preparations of war.

Analysts are concerned that, with the stagnation of the talks, North Korea continues to produce more nuclear fuel and warheads. As its nuclear arsenal increases, the cost of denuclearization continues to increase.

"They may ask:‘ How can we reward someone as bad as North Korea? "Said Jun Bong-geun, interim president of the Institute for International Affairs and National Security in Seoul, administered by the government. “But sanctions and pressure alone have never worked with North Korea. You also have to offer incentives. ”

c.2019 The New York Times Company

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