North Korea’s recent promise to halt nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests looks like an overture for peace, but a careful reading reveals that it could indicate Kim Jong Un is ready for nuclear war.
“This is very good news for North Korea and the World – big progress!” President Donald Trump tweeted of the announcement.
But look at Kim’s stated reason for pausing tests. North Korean media quoted Kim as saying: “No nuclear test and intermediate-range and inter-continental ballistic rocket test-fire are necessary for the DPRK now, given that the work for mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets was finished…the development of delivery and strike means was also made.”
Basically, Kim says North Korea has stopped testing because it’s done testing.
While North Korea has never fired an ICBM at range, and only fired its Hwasong-15 ICBM twice, Hanham and other experts think it’s already achieved sufficient capability to threaten the US.
On the issue of nuclear testing, Robert Manning, a North Korea expert at the Atlantic Council, told Business Insider there’s a “fair amount of evidence” that suggests if they tried to test another nuclear device in the same location, they would destroy the entire site and possibly collapse a mountain. According to Manning, Kim is “making a virtue of necessity and hoping we’re stupid enough to think it’s a concession.”
Of the upcoming Trump-Kim talks: “I think the fear among a lot of Korea watchers is when you have a summit between two leaders, if things do not go well, there’s little to fall back on,” Jung Pak, a senior fellow and the SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies at Brookings Institution’s Center for East Asia Policy Studies, told MSNBC on Saturday.
So while Trump and much of the world cheer North Korea’s decision to stop testing while talks are going on, something that almost certainly does help the peace process, it’s important to remember what Kim’s nuclear weapons mean to him.