North Korea news: Iran strike is a warning from Trump to Kim, warns expert

North Korea news: Iran strike is a warning from Trump to Kim, warns expert

Daily Express - World·700 views·2020-01-18 11:01

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The drone strike which killed Gen Soleimani dramatically raised tensions in the Middle East - but John Barry Kotch, who has served with the UN Command as an intelligence adviser to the South Korean Air Force, as well as working as a State Department consultant on Korea, said the raid will no have gone unnoticed in Pyongyang. Mr Kotch, writing in the South China Morning Post, said: “Political developments in the Middle East invariably reverberate in the Far East.”

He cited 2002, when then-US President George W Bush had declared war on what he termed an “axis of evil” consisting of Iran, Iraq and North Korea, accusing them of “threatening the peace of the world” by “seeking weapons of mass destruction” - even though no evidence of this was subsequently uncovered by the United Nations.

He added: “It’s also true today that Middle Eastern political developments are resonating loudly in this region, in the wake of the drone strike that eliminated in a single stroke Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian mastermind behind regional terrorism whose demise is likely to produce more of the same.”

Around the time of Mr Bush’s “axis of evil” speech, the US accused North Korea of breaching the terms of the Agreed Framework deal by pursuing uranium enrichment technology and plutonium reprocessing.

The following year, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, marking a new phase for the so-called Hermit State.

Mr Kotch explained: “The result was a North Korean nuclear breakout and the situation that we are grappling with today, with Pyongyang having amassed a stockpile estimated at between 30 and 60 nuclear weapons.

“But the more telling human tale came with the subsequent ‘shock and awe’ invasion of Iraq in 2003, when it sent then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il – a potential target – fleeing from Pyongyang and staying away from the capital incommunicado for several months.

“He did not want to wind up in a hole similar to the one Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was eventually found hiding in by US troops who captured him.”

It was probable Kim Jong-un had joined his father in exile, with his experience partly explaining his determination to building “an impregnable nuclear deterrent”.

Kim ended the year promising a “Christmas present” for Mr Trump which many took to be a reference to a fresh round of nuclear missile tests.

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However, Mr Kotch added: “Under the current circumstances, Kim would be wise to delay or downplay whatever new ‘strategic weapon’ he promised following the expiration of his year-end deadline for the US.

“The North Korean leader had probably backed himself into a corner in 2019, an unprecedented year of diplomacy which saw three meetings with his South Korean counterpart, President Moon Jae-In, suggesting that relations between the two Koreas would henceforth be conducted on a new plane.

“With Trump now focused on Iran and Iraq, the third member of Bush’s 'axis of evil' is likely to fall from the front burner, with one key proviso: there must be no long-range missile or nuclear testing, otherwise all bets are off for 'rocket man' Kim.”

In other words, Kim needed to consider the idea that Mr Trump might decide the “imminent threat” criterion in international law, in other words the necessity of self-defence being “instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation”, was applicable in the case of North Korea.

He said: “Thus, it could also be invoked to justify pre-emptive action such as a drone attack on North Korean missiles targeting US bases in South Korea or Japan.

“To avoid returning to the days of fire and fury, Kim would be best advised to follow jazz maestro Duke Ellington’s advice to one of his lovers: ‘Do nothing till you hear from me’.”

Speaking earlier this week, President Moon said on Tuesday it was too early to be pessimistic about stalled denuclearisation dialogue between the United States and North Korea, claiming Pyongyang has not yet shut the door to more talks.

The South Korea leader said Mr Trump’s recent letter to Kim was a good sign which underscored his commitment to negotiations.

Speaking at a news conference at the presidential Blue House, President Moon said: “Some were concerned about a new round of provocations just in time for Chairman Kim’s birthday.

“Instead, President Trump sent him birthday wishes to stress his willingness to talk. It was a great idea.”

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