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Asia's Game of Thrones
Moon to Xi: Let’s Talk

South Korea’s new president Moon Jae-in broke eight months of top-level silence between Seoul and Beijing today, placing a phone call to Xi Jinping that offered an emerging glimpse of his North Korea strategy. Reuters has the details:

“The resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue must be comprehensive and sequential, with pressure and sanctions used in parallel with negotiations,” Moon’s spokesman, Yoon Young-chan, quoted Moon as telling Xi.

“Sanctions against North Korea are also a means to bring the North to the negotiating table aimed at eliminating its nuclear weapons,” Yoon told a briefing, adding that Xi indicated his agreement.

Moon has taken a more conciliatory line with North Korea than his conservative predecessors and advocates engagement. He has said he would be prepared to go to Pyongyang “if the conditions are right”.

Moon’s message here about the need for negotiations is sure to please Beijing, since it largely echoes the Chinese position. A few days before Moon’s election, the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. penned an op-ed arguing that Beijing had already “done its utmost” to restrain Pyongyang, and that any further escalation of sanctions must be combined with direct talks. With Seoul now sharing the latter view, Beijing will feel even less pressure to seriously tighten the screws on North Korea, as Trump has been urging.

That said, it is not clear that Seoul and Beijing can immediately get on the same page and put bad blood behind them. As the FT’s account of the call suggests, the THAAD missile defense system could be a sticking point:

In the first conversation in eight months between the leaders of the two countries, Mr Xi reiterated China’s opposition to the controversial deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system in South Korea. Mr Moon acknowledged Chinese concerns about the system but said that Beijing should address the “restraints and restrictions” punitively imposed on South Korean companies operating in China.

Moon, of course, is a longtime critic of THAAD who believes the system has soured relations with Beijing. But even Moon knows that THAAD is not realistically going anywhere, at least not in the immediate term.

Regardless, talks will happen; Moon has reportedly tapped a special envoy to China to begin discussions, to include THAAD and the nuclear crisis, as soon as Saturday.

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  • KremlinKryptonite

    1. Possibly caving to economic warfare/pressure.
    2. Seemingly willing to prioritize Beijing’s geopolitical concerns over Seoul’s security.
    I feel like I dug out the VCR and some VHS tapes from 20 years ago. Crazy how history can repeat itself. All the same mistakes and boo-boos that the liberal party made from 1998-2008 could very well be put on repeat.

    That conversation is going to go like this.
    Xi: yes, let’s talk about you removing THAAD, and/or pressuring Japan and America into something like the six-party talks of the early 2000s. Maybe then I will remove the screws from your back.
    (The so called “sunshine policy” and six-party talks ended in catastrophic failure with a nuclear test).

    A classic lose/lose for Korea. It either pegs itself as the perfect, easy target for economic warfare, or pays for more sand to go into Pyongyang’s hour glass at the expense of its own security.
    And Trump certainly does not appear to be the man who will beg the new president to reconsider, but rather he will let him do damage to Korean security, and charge up the nose when the Koreans inevitably beg the US to be more proactive again down the road.

    • Suzy Dixon

      They certainly want to get THAAD out of there because they think it can spy on them and it only strengthened the US-Korea alliance, and everyone who’s been watching knows that the six party talks were just a ruse used to buy china and nk more time. That means Moon is just a stooge for nk and china. Sad for Koreans, but maybe they’ll actually learn their lesson after another ship gets sunk, island shelled, or airliner bombed.

      • KremlinKryptonite

        Your second bit about THAAD is correct, while the first, about spying, is not. The US has AN/TPY2 radars in Japan, on Guam, on ships, and space-based assets. A THAAD battery and another radar in SK does virtually nothing to blunt the PLARF (PLA Rocket Forces). And we already do watch them – closely. I can share this much with some info redacted on the first picture. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/347b11fd696d870c17d7cbb1795a16134f79b189a007c4b90473470c30ba76f8.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7eadb39336a163a29a3e6cde981c9b24be4c1ad2f8c74cadae15f792b6d4ea55.png

        • Suzy Dixon

          Whoa. But why redact the exact day of the month or the coordinates.? I think they know where their own base is right lol ?

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Well that’s just the tip of the iceberg, Suzy. Those are real images, and they are training images. Nothing super sensitive about them other than the fact that we might not want to share the exact location with some third-party, and we don’t need to publicize the exact day because that lets them know the exact location of space-based and other assets. You want that kind of info to be as difficult as possible to get.

            Sub bases are public knowledge for the most part, just like my old base, Bangor

        • Unelected Leader

          That’s awesome. I would love to be plugged in and just there counting launchers all day

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Well, that job has already been done, and is covered. Of course, you would have access to much better, classified imaging through the NROs satellites. No matter if it’s day or night, rain or shine, and even seeing into the ground. Indeed, NRO operators wear a patch that says “we own the night.”
            The manpower dedicated to such a task has been greatly reduced for china, however, because the number of launchers nearly doubled between 2006 and 2011, but they have remained steady since then. Not very many.

          • Unelected Leader

            I see. But why train on lower quality images and without all the nifty extras?

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Train the eyes. Same reason you learn how to shoot with iron sights before you go out and buy a $5000 thermal scope was automatic range and windage.

        • Jon Robbins

          >”I can share this much with some info redacted on the first picture.”

          I see some of this imagery on the FAS page with the image dates and lat-longs intact. It’s just commercial imagery-Digital Globe/Google Earth. What’s with the pseudo-cloak-and-dagger stuff, implying that you are somehow downgrading/releasing this stuff?

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Did I not say they were public? Only Hillary Clinton can get away with leaking classified information. As of last spring the coordinates of the MRBM training base were not public, so they must’ve been released within less than a year. I guess I wouldn’t know since I don’t read FAS/CRS reports. They are not really all that up to date, and the reason for that is that they are totally unclassified. More like a useful readers digest.

          • Jon Robbins

            Yeah, I saw what you said, but the FAS site has the lat-long for that facility on the image dated 4 May 2014.

            Well, whatever.

            Of course, FAS is unclassified. That’s the point.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Sure, the image could have the date. That’s not what’s important. When was it [ The image with the date and coordinates on it] released in a report? Well, I found it and it was last summer so I was correct, apparently it was released sometime within the last year. I guess I’m really confused, you seem angry or upset that I am choosing to err on the side of caution?

          • Jon Robbins

            Released by whom? It’s publicly available imagery. Looks liked FAS did their own annotations and “released” that specific image in 2014.

            The explanatory text on the image at the FAS site reads:

            DF-21 Launch UNit at Dengshahe (Liaoning, China)
            Coordinates 39 09 13.56 N 122 04 49.43 E
            Image: May 4, 2014 (Digital Globe via Google Earth)
            Hans M. Kristensen/FAS 2014

            URL: https//fas.org/blogs/security/2014/05/dengshaheupgrade

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Please read my post carefully if you’re going to reply. I’m talking about the report, which is the same image and that makes sense. This was released in a FAS report summer, 2016. I could be wrong, perhaps it was released even earlier, but it’s the first time I’ve seen coordinates like these released so readily to the public. I would suppose the rationale is that any kid could accidentally find the place using commercial satellites.
            Either way, I’m going to continue to err on the side of caution moving forward, so if that bothers you I guess you’ll have to block me or deal with it.

          • Jon Robbins

            Well, for the record, if you go to that URL I included in my last post, you will see that the FAS report/article containing the image was posted 21 May 2014–not in 2016.

            So I am still mystified by you suggesting that you–or whoever–need to redact imagery that was in the public domain from when it was made available via Google Earth until now.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Goodness gracious! For I believe the third time, it’s called being cautious. Even though it’s a pain I will continue to be overly cautious because I actually have something to lose if management questions my judgement.

          • Suzy Dixon

            Why would it be a problem? This isn’t a highly trafficked thread, and your account doesn’t show your face or name…..

          • KremlinKryptonite

            To obtain and maintain a top secret clearance in DoD and DoS you must pass regular polygraph tests. Among the myriad of questions you are asked if you believe you’ve done your due diligence to keep information secure which you believe to be or believe should be confidential (key word). And I want to keep passing with ease. Not everyone does.

          • Jon Robbins

            Are you posting from a NIPRnet account?

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Of course not. In fact, I hardly use it at all and least of all for Disqus. The device I’m using to post here is strictly for personal use, as in news and entertainment. I’m acting as a DoD liaison for INR, so I have to adhere to their guidelines for use and storage of personal devices. It is therefore never used for anything work-related, never connects to a work-related network, is rarely closer than 20 feet to work-related devices (it’s typically off when gets closer), and just for total redundancy I also use a good VPN.

          • Unelected Leader

            Dude, Jon, this guy is not going to release highly classified images on the Internet and become the next Bradley Manning. And on a TAI thread of all places?! Would he not try to sell such information for millions of dollars and a luxury condo in Shanghai or something and a gaggle of call girls at least? Something like that was the offer made to a German guy a few years ago.

        • f1b0nacc1

          Not quite.

          The AN/TPY-2 radar in South Korea is in an excellent position to observe Chinese missile activities in the North East, something that none of the other radars you mentioned can do. The other radars don’t have the capacity to engage in tracking of missiles being tested (yes, they can identify them, but nothing more), specifically the flight characteristics of those missiles, and how they might release decoys, penaids, etc. While satellites, other sensors, etc. can perform many of the same functions, they cannot perform all of them due to the particular location of this radar installation. There is nothing particularly evil or sinister about this, it is simply the nature of the system. Now THAAD COULD interoperate with the Super Green Pine radars that the South Koreans have, and not use the ANTPY-2 system for queuing, especially given the nature of their opponent in this case (the Norks).

          I don’t have any great love for the Chinese, but they do have a point here. Even if it isn’t our intention to use the system for spying (though I imagine that consideration certainly occurred to the decision makers who pushed this through), they are hardly being unreasonable for raising this objection. We certainly do watch the Chinese carefully, but you know as well as I do that different sorts of sensors have various strengths and weaknesses that require them to compliment each other. Much more to the point, since the X-band radar being used here is the one that is used for our other deployed anti-missile defenses, this sort of information gathering by the radar (as opposed to other sensors) would be of particular operational value.

          • Jon Robbins

            What you say makes sense. I also think that the Chinese, like the Russians with the ABM in Europe, see THAAD–that is the interceptor capability itself as opposed to the radars–as the camel’s nose under the tent. By itself, it poses no threat to China’s current and future strategic deterrent, but once the precedent of US ABM in South Korea is established, what will future “upgrades” and “follow-on systems” bring to China’s doorstep? They don’t know and they have no desire to wait and find out.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Unlikely. The ROK has about $200 billion/year in trade with China, and has no real need to put that in peril by letting the US use them as a forward base for a comprehensive ABM emplacement, even if such a thing was feasible (it isn’t, by the way). KremlinKryptonite points out quite correctly that the Chinese have nobody but themselves to blame for this, as they could have easily reined in the Norks some time ago, but found it more useful to use them as a catspaw against the US. The ROK wants to guarantee American involvement in its defense, and to do that it is tolerating this deployment, but there comes a point (and we are quite near it) where the game is no longer worth the candle.

            The interceptors are no big deal, as they are of very limited capability (only a relatively narrow set of interception vectors, and useless against most of the short-ranged systems), but the radar is a much bigger problem. In any event, if the Norks were to use nukes, even a perfect defense system could be bypassed by a clever opponent, and the ROK is altogether too well aware of that. This deployment is more of a political signal and a slight tactical impediment than anything else, and the Chinese are well aware of that. That they are upset about the potential use of the radar for monitoring their missile tests (avoiding this would be rather difficult and expensive for them to deal with, not to mention embarassing in the extreme) is more a result of their own cupidity than anything else, and I agree with KK that this is in no small part what infuriates them.

          • Jon Robbins

            I hear what you are saying about the PRC-ROK relationship and agree, but It would not surprise me that the Chinese would want to take no chances. This is certainly the position that the Russians are taking at the other end of the Eurasian continent. Nonethess, the reasons you lay out are sufficient in themselves to explain the Chinese position even without any qualms about future ABM systems.

            I disagree that the Chinese have only themselves to blame. And North Korea is no longer–if it ever was–a catspaw for China. For them it fulfills one role: a buffer between US forces and China. If the DPRK is a catspaw for anybody, it is for the US. North Korea can serve as the nominal justification for actions that are really directed at the longer-term issue of US-Chinese strategic competition in Northeast Asia.

            As I said elsewhere, if the US had been willing to fulfill the commitments in connection with 1994 LW reactor agreement in a timely manner, we might well have solved–or partially solved–the Korea problem.

          • f1b0nacc1

            I understand your point, but I don’t share your view regarding the Norks and the US. The Norks have acted in bad faith from the beginning (keep in mind, these are the guys who were running a low-level commando war with the ROK until the early 1970s, where they were threatened with sufficient consequences that they actually got afraid and called it off), and there is little reason to believe that they would have ever given up their desire for nukes. The reason for this is simple enough, nukes are the only reliable method of guaranteeing their regime won’t be overthrown from the outside, and that it can face down any attempt to stir up trouble on the inside. No American concessions can change that fundamental calculus, and it isn’t even an entirely unreasonable one. Kim Il-Sung might have actually believed this Juche nonsense, but his son didn’t, and his grandson certainly doesn’t. They realized that the only way to ensure the dynasty’s survival over the long haul was to have something that they could use to blackmail any potential enemy with, and nukes are it. They aren’t going to trade that away for anything.

            Much is made of the example that the US has set in Iraq (and Libya) where a regime was overthrown by the US and its allies. An even better, and more recent, example is the Ukraine (really Crimea) where Russia (a FAR less imposing entity) brazenly stole Crimea from the Ukraine, despite having agreed 20 years earlier to respect the territorial integrity of the Ukraine in exchange for the Ukrainians giving up their nukes. I would suggest that the lesson of that experience (would Putin have played his little snatch and grab operation if he had to face the threat of retaliation on that scale?) is quite useful in convincing everyone who has pissed off a larger neighbor that nukes are a good thing to have.

          • TNI Censors Comments Now

            Hello, Doug. Remember me? If you’re not Doug Bandow from over on TNI then you sure do a great job of regurgitating his bs. I watch all you guys. When see your kind moving over to TAI then I know it’s time to act. TNI already went down the tubes with censorship and having Dougy writing for them after he failed to disclose that he was paid by lobbyists, including Abramoff.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Well hang on now, I appreciate everyone who engages with me here. Although, I will agree that TNI does censor the discussion threads, particularly in the last 1 to 2 years. Not really sure what changed. Perhaps some Chinese money made its way to the Center for the National Interest? It’s not like they don’t invest in think tanks and the like already, and being that it was formerly the Nixon center was it not? it would almost be poetic.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Sorry, not Doug Bandow, and I don’t have any relationship with TNI, other than having visited it a few times (I wasn’t all that impressed). Other than a few ad-homs, do you have a substantive concern?

          • KremlinKryptonite

            That argument doesn’t stack up, and you’ve tried it before. Ballistic missile test launches are not a secret. In fact, they are advertised well in advance so as not to cause a terrible misunderstanding. Between the shorter range ship-based radars which can obviously be moved around, the TPY2s in Japan, and space-based assets, all of those things can be measured and/or observed.

            Don’t forget, the TPY2 radar is in Korea because THAAD won’t be intercepting anything without it. And the reason THAAD is in Korea can be laid at the feet of the Chinese Communist Party for not controlling their ally over whom they have gargantuan leverage.
            The United States did it’s part; it applied enormous pressure to stop South Korea’s early nuclear weapons ambitions in the 1970s.

          • f1b0nacc1

            The short-ranged ship-based radars cannot track the reentry vehicles from the Chinese tests in any meaningful way, , nor can the the ANTPY-2 installations in Japan. The one in the ROK can, and it is the only one that can do so. We aren’t talking about detection, we are talking about tracking, a crucial distinction when discussing gathering intelligence on the flight characteristics of the RVs. As for the satellite based systems, they are typically (not always) rather different in terms of frequencies used and power. Finally, there is no match for using systems for intelligence gathering that are identical (and thus behave in an identical fashion) to those that will be used operationally. The ANTPY-2 in the ROK fits that criteria, those on the satellites (and the shipboard systems, though not the ones in Japan) do not.

            Regarding the ANTPY-2 radar in the ROK and THAAD, you are absolutely correct that a big part of this must be laid squarely t the feet of the Chicoms, and their rather cynical use of the Norks. This isn’t a defense of their tantrum, I am merely pointing out that some of their concerns are justified, even if they only have themselves to blame.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            They’ve already moved most of their assets far out into the Gobi desert precisely to be farther out of range of US assets. I figured you’d catch onto it by now, but I’m just going to say it. Their concern, if there really is one, is that their missiles likely do not have the range they claim. Are not actually MIRV’d, or at least not as many as they claim. They have not launched the DF-41 on a long haul flight (beyond 7,000 mi) to prove it’s range, or to demonstrate the MIRV’d capability.

            All you have are nonsense, untrustworthy reports from sensationalist websites, and occasionally the Chinese military agreeing and “confirming” those reports. And that means next to nothing because they have a long history of exaggerating capabilities for political reasons.

          • f1b0nacc1

            When I have quoted sensationalist websites and Chinese military? If you need to be insulting, find someone less interested in it.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Not you. It was a generality. Specifically I’m talking about the Freebeacon pieces on the DF-41 and some others on the Jin class subs which were eventually “confirmed” by the PLA and PLAN. To which I say LOL. And of coooourrrsee

          • f1b0nacc1

            I have cited (nor would cite, they are trash) those sources. The DF-41 has some pretty serious problems that I thought by this time were pretty well known. As for Jins, how long do we need to go on before we stop hyperventilaed about the next wunderwaffe that our enemies build. I have never ceased to be amazed that we assume that the defense press salivates over the claimed performance figures for systems that they have never actually seen (and often have not yet even been put) in operation.

          • TNI Censors Comments Now

            Okay. You’re not Doug Bandow. My substantive and substantial fears have been allayed by that post.

          • Suzy Dixon

            LOL. He’s not Bandow. He’d be advocating we give away the kitchen sink just because a picture of a sub or plane was published by CCP owned media. And not because he’s worried about it but rather because his concern is bought and paid for. Hugh White is just as bad.

          • TNI Censors Comments Now

            You’re not kidding. That guy could be the definition of insufferable. I suppose that is what it boils down to. They either have investments there, a spouse from there, or they’re being paid by some interest group or lobbyists with interest there. Maybe all three!

    • Jon Robbins

      Actually, Moon seems willing to consider other strategic dimensions of ROK national interest than solely the DPRK missile threat.

      The real solution to all this is a peace treaty with the DPRK and the LW reactors in exchange for an end to their nuclear weapons program. That could have been done 20 years ago too and then we might well not even be in this predicatment.

      • KremlinKryptonite

        Sadly, the Kim regime is not giving up nuclear weapons. Not only do they say so, but nuclear weapons and fissile material that can be sold fit too perfectly into the regimes strategy for survival now. In fact, the Kim regime has three basic categories of weapons.
        1. Nukes for regime survival.
        2. Chemical weapons, tanks, artillery for conquering SK.
        3. Weapons for provocation (when they want some attention and concessions).

        The Kim regime is not going to give up nuclear weapons and fissile material, re-enter the NPT, and pledge to never invade SK, as it did in 1950. Not that their word would be worth much anyway.

        • Jon Robbins

          Yeah, it’s possible that the window may have closed, but I don’t agree that it’s a certainty. Let’s make the offer and see. If we had not slow-rolled the LW reactors in the late 90s and then walked away altogether in 2002, there is a decent chance we would not be in this situation.

          As for the antiquated and ever-degrading stock of weapons and ammunition for invading ROK, yeah, they’ve still got them, but there isn’t going to be any invasion. That’s just a fantasy at this point.

          And your categories 1 and 3 overlap to a great extent. The concession that the North Koreans want is a peace treaty with the US and security guarantees. Let’s see what they will give up to get one.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            Offers have been made for approximately 30 years. Long before nukes were in the picture. No they do not overlap. Nuclear weapons are not actually used. In fact, there is literally no evidence that they have any operational role in North Korean war plans yet.
            Category three represents small gunboats, light artillery, Scud rockets that are of no real use in battle but fired to intimidate and extract concessions.

            The far more threatening WMD-type are the chemical weapons. We know that they will be used in a conflict, and used early to try and offset advantages possessed by the allies. They will also be used early because that’s what makes the most sense, when North Korean war planners have the clearest picture of the battlefield. Later use could actually be detrimental.

          • Jon Robbins

            The negotiations from 1994 to 2002 were by far the nearest we came to a comprehensive agreement with North Korea that could have changed the game completely. The US Congress played around with the funding fore the LW reactors for years, and then the Bush administration came up with its brilliant “Axis of Evil” concept, and any real chance for a breakthrough receded.

            Clearly, nukes and missiles (and especially the test events) belong in category 3 as well as 1. They don’t have to be “used,” if you mean launched in an act of war, to have utility. Yes, the things you mention may be in 3 as well, but it’s the nukes and missiles that are most likely to get concessions. What concessions would they ever get from the light artillery, etc? They’re not that dumb–they know it’s nuke and missile proliferation that we focus on–not the little pin-prick stuff.

            Finally, North Korea has no real capability to launch the 5027 scenario. That’s done. Yeah, the CW is scary, but 5027 now merely ends up as self-imposed regime change if they try it. I think those at the top know that, just as they realize how China’s interests have shifted and broadened.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            No they don’t, it’s very simple. I’m talking about something actionable. Nuclear weapons are not actionable weapons for this purpose. North Korea does periodically sink a boat, shell an island, fire some junk Scud missile. Those are provocation weapons.
            The nuclear tests will eventually yield the results to change that calculus – making them even stronger crutches to lean on for regime survival.

            That period led to the ridiculous six-party talks which lasted for a few more years and ended in catastrophic failure with a nuclear test. All the while the Chinese communist party was allowing individuals and entities whether with direct or just tacit approval to continue helping the Kim regime along.

          • Jon Robbins

            Yeah, but what has North Korea gotten in terms of concessions from those pin-prick provocations? Nothing.

            I say, let’s see what they would agree to concede in exchange for a peace treaty. It can’t hurt to see. Of course, for the US these days, there’s only one way: regime change. And that policy has sown havoc in its wake. Surprise, surprise–neither China nor South Korea is eager for another (and nearby) instance of our brand of “solving” problems.

            Yeah, China is going to help North Korea–at least to a limited extent. It’s not in their interest for North Korea to go away with South Korea still a base for US forces. It’s that simple. But there is no reason not to explore a real peace treaty with North Korea–period.

          • KremlinKryptonite

            That wont happen without nukes being on the table and inspectors firmly wedged in Kims you kmow what.
            The regime has said time and again that nukes can’t be on the table for talks to go anywhere.
            They want a peace accord so long as they are recognized as a nuclear power because then the US would have to draw down, and fewer US-Korea drills would take place giving Beijing and Pyongyang A massive victory and leaving Korea just as vulnerable as the US left South Vietnam

            Don’t forget, when the US left South Vietnam it was still a country, and there was a peace accord. Less than two years later, the Communists broke the deal and quickly overran South Vietnam.

          • Jon Robbins

            Under the 1994 Agreed Framework, North Korea agreed to move towards elimination of its nuclear program in exchange for the LW reactors and the nornalization of relations with the US. We dragged our feet on the reactors and then after they had agreed on the nuke issues, introduced missiles into the equation as well. It still might have worked, but we then backed off from a peace treaty guaranteeing normalized relations, and they then moved forward with their weapons program.

            They want a peace treaty, so let’s sit down and see what we can do with Chinese participation. They are not going to give up nuclear weapons until they get the peace treaty. There is no question of the US leaving ROK in the near term unless the South Koreans demand it. It’s not like South Vietnam, and China has no desire to see North Korea cause problems with the South.

            The problem may be that ultimately, we like the status quo, and a real detente on the peninsula would, in the view of some, threaten our strategic position in Northeast Asia. But if our strategy in the region depends on a continuation of tensions, then we are in a weak position indeed.

          • Suzy Dixon

            How exactly do you have normalized relations with somebody that you made crappy CGI movies about nuking? That’s a pretty weak argument you made. It’s not 1994! They have the nuclear weapons. The CCP could’ve prevented that and they didn’t. Perhaps they like the status quo? Perhaps they like to ratchet up the tension as happened when their ally went nuclear?

            Kim Jong Un is running the show or at least is the front man now. And they have been saying that they won’t have a serious negotiation until nuclear legitimacy is at hand

          • Jon Robbins

            Yes, it’s not 1994. We blew it then, and we need to get serious about real negotiations now.

            Can you show me the quote that illustrates the North Korean position you are asserting?

          • KremlinKryptonite

            The question really is “could Kim do it in the first place if he truly wanted to?” That is not clear at all. Then there are the statements made via state-run media, from top officials, and from defectors all saying the same thing – The regime will not enter serious negotiations if nuclear weapons are a prerequisite. After all, it’s not a secret. If Kim Jong Un truly has the power that it appears he has on the face of things AND has the desire for normalized relations he could then easily meet those basic prerequisites of denuclearizing, submitting to intensive inspections, and making a pledge never to invade South Korea again (or aid others in that enterprise).

            It’s too opaque. There are too many variables. Does he really have that power, but would he be risking it by agreeing to those prerequisites? Perhaps he does not really have the power in the first place? Similar problems arise with the fluid power structure of the Chinese Communist Party. We have dozens possibly hundreds of analysts, academics, and espionage agents dedicated solely to understanding the fluid power structures of such opaque regimes.

          • Suzy Dixon

            Well I hope all the Koreans have a full tank of gas because they will need to get to Busan ASAP

          • KremlinKryptonite

            That would be a terrible place to go. Busan will be hit and hit very hard very early on. It’s a major port that would be used for logistics and resupply, etc., if you could be there a day before something happens and you have some special information perhaps you could hop on the ferry to Fukuoka.

    • f1b0nacc1

      While I certainly agree with your assessment of the situation, I would point out that it is likely better for the US (as opposed to the ROK) to avoid ‘begging’ the new president to reconsider. He won’t, you know what a twit he is. We will only look weak, and the damage will be done anyway.

      Let us hope that the ROK comes to their senses quickly and limits the damage done. I understand that it is easy for me to say that (I am safely here thousands of miles away, and I have few contacts to the ROK in any case), but ultimately that is about the best-case scenario.

  • Dhako

    The discussion between China and South-Korea is just beginning. Which means, the THAAD system and China’s position towards the South-Koreans business are all up for discussion. And moreover, the North-Koreans position with their Nuclear are also something that will be the top of the agenda. And, unless you are blind or intellectually obtuse, you will see that, the US has no larger leverage to be “intermediate partner” in the discussion between China and South-Korea.

    Which means, the strategical three way dance (or the diplomatic Ménage à trois) between China, US, and South-Korea (which was bit “crowded” sort of a relationship of the kind the late Princess Diana of the Windsor Family once said it, she was having with her then husband, Prince Charles and his then mistress, Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles) is likely to be reduced to a “two-way-relationship” between China and South-Korea. Hence, the only matter that need a bit of finesse (or at least tact) will be how to handled the “emotional outburst” that is likely to be coming from the “rejected” (or jilted) third-partner in this unusual relationship, namely the US under Mr Trump, with his impulsiveness.

    Hence, the two leaders of China and South-Korea (who are the grown-up in this three-way relationship) will simply have “manage” this “grown-up toddler” in the White-House, particularly when he find out, that these two other leaders will indulge his ego with kid-gloves, but, strategically speaking, they are not that into him. This is their secondary task, after they see their way of resolving their differences about small matter of the THAAD, the Chinese tacit embargo of the South-Koreans businesses and finally, the way to deal with the unhinged leader in North-Korea with his “Nuclear Toys”.

    • ——————————

      But, Grasshopper
      Confucius say…”Man who make only wild, bloviating, speculative comments on blog, lose face”.

      So sorry about your face, Grasshopper….

      • Fat_Man

        Don’t pick on Dhako. He is just a bot. A very sophisticated bot, but a bot all the same. He wants to grow up and be a real boy. But, I don’t think it will ever happen.

    • Jon Robbins

      So how do you see the PRC and ROK cooperating on dealing with “the unhinged leader of North Korea”?

  • Jon Robbins

    >”But even Moon knows that THAAD is not realistically going anywhere, at least not in the immediate term.”

    This assertion needs, at the very least, some explanation. What it implies is that even if the incoming South Korean government does not want THAAD, there is nothing they can do about it. It suggests implicit limitations on the sovereign authority of the ROK government.

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