The president of United States, Donald Trump, is unpredictable and difficult to understand even to those who work with him. Last week, the president made the most recent step in the nuclear weapon race that, in last year, has spiraled out of control.
On February 2nd, the Trump administration submitted the new US nuclear policy, called the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), in which there are two main points: first, an investment of 1.7 trillion dollars to make the most ambitious modernization of its nuclear arsenal and second, blaming Russia, Beijing, Teheran and Pyongyang for the making of this decision.
Although the President expressed his “openness to holding talks between the United States and North Korea at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances” according to a White House`s statement, he makes this conversation hard to happen. In essence, if the blamed states do not present a threat to the US, Trump won`t need to increase its nuclear potential. However, what legitimacy does he have to say this?
The “Trends in World Nuclear Forces, 2017” report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, reveals that the US is the country with the second most nuclear weapons, with possession of 6.800 nuclear warheads. Russia leads this race with “just” 200 hundred more. It may come as a surprise that North Korea falls in 9th place with “only” 40 nuclear warheads. It could be said that it is not the number of weapons that matters but the leader who is behind their usage. In this case, the leader of the Free World cannot trust in the mad communist leader of North-Korea. Yet, facts have shown that these thoughts are far from reality.
Rich Whitney, an attorney, and writer sought to compare Freedom House’s rating system of political rights for 2015 to the US government’s provision of military assistance to foreign nations that same year, according to the media MintPressNew. Whitney wanted to determine whether the US government actually opposes dictatorships and champions democracy at a global level, as is often claimed. He succeeded in finding that the US has provided military assistance to 36 of the world’s 49 dictatorships. Essentially, this means that more than 73% of the world’s dictatorships currently receive military assistance from the US. This begs the question – what is the difference between Kim Jong Un and these dictators and what allows the US to praise these nuclear weapon bearing countries but not North Korea?
A journey without end
The North-Korean nuclear concerns have existed since the beginning of the 1980s, when it is thought that Pyongyang started to develop a clandestine nuclear arms program. Since then, all the international diplomatic efforts have failed in their attempt to persuade North Korea to abandon its rearmament. Starting from the 1994 Agreed Framework, which was linked with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and following being included in George W. Bush`s ‘axis of evil’ in 2002 which was linked with the Six-party Talks, none of them succeeded in stopping the North Korean leader.
However, Barack Obama, the former US president, launched a new idea during his presidency called the ‘strategic patience’ which seemed to bring a new light to the conflict. The Obama policy “suggested that the United States could afford to wait for North Korea to make its decision to denuclearize,” according to the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent think tank. However, that was also a dismal failure.
At a global level, since 2006 the Security Council members of the UN have imposed different sanctions in order to damage the North-Korean economy. Embargos on military and technological materials, or export bans on basic goods, for example, steel, coal, textile products or seafood have been among some of the punitive actions.
None of these measures seem to be successful because the Pyongyang regime has managed to dodge these sanctions. Beijing support could be one of the main reasons, although the Asian giant has also approved some of the sanctions recently. But China`s priority is to avoid a collapse of the North-Korean regime. Such an instance could provoke a refugee crisis. Furthermore, a process of reunification between both Koreas would mean that China would have a border with a country with a US security system. For these reasons, Beijing keeps an intense commercial relationship with its appreciated, like-minded neighbor. According to Chinese official data, the commercial exchange between the two states increased by 37.4% in the first trimester of 2017 in comparison with the same period of 2016.
Try to put yourself in Kim Jong-Un shoes
After years of back and forth, without any relevant results, experts from the Elcano Royal Institute, Félix Arteaga and Mario Esteban, agree that any agreement can have a precondition based on North-Korea completely abandoning its nuclear armament. “North Korea’s leaders know that they need these programs to avoid regime change and in order to be respected in their talks with regional powers”.
Without nuclear weapons, Kim Jong Un does not present a danger to the US, thus he does not want to lose his authority to negotiate. Besides, his power over the North-Koreans lies also in the fear of a US military invasion, convincing his population that he is the only one capable of protecting them.
Trump has shown that he is incapable to see beyond. The Nuclear Posture Review has been defined as “a blueprint for nuclear war” by Australia’s Nobel peace, Tilman Ruff for The Guardian.
It is worth considering if our space is now the kingdom of two Rocket Men: one, short and fat and another one, old and lunatic. While you are reading this piece, Trump is still laughing in Washington about his wisecracks in the Oval Office and, in Pyongyang, Kim Jong Un is threatening the whole world with a new and last nuclear war.