With the latest provocative firing by North Korea of an ICBM missile on Sept. 14, 2017 over the Japanese island of Hokkaido, it should be clear to any thinking individual that economic sanctions will not work. We have to face facts. North Korea is doing exactly what China and Russia want it to do. There would be no nuclear weapon threat from North Korea without covert assistance from both China and Russia. Therefore, our negotiating strategy of relying on China and Russia to rein in the nuclear-weapons threat posed by North Korea makes absolutely no sense. President Trump must stop relying on Obama holdovers for strategic guidance.
Recent new sanctions imposed by the U.N. will have no impact on curtailing North Korea’s drive to achieve a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile capability that can threaten U.S. cities and territories. Further, North Korea is rushing to compete work on a new submarine capable of launching multiple Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs).
This submarine can be equipped with the newly-developed Pukguksong-3 missile. This new 3,000-ton submarine would replace the older class SINPO-class submarine of 2,000 tons which has only one launcher. The date for completion is before Sept. 9, 2018, the 70th anniversary of the founding of North Korea.
On July 4, 2017, North Korea successfully test-fired an ICBM from a 16-wheel, road mobile Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) supplied by China. It is further proof of China’s assistance. In order to provide the correct TEL size, China had to know the exact dimensions of the North Korean missile. There are 8-10 of these launchers in North Korea. These road mobile TELs give North Korea the capability to reduce our ability to target those missiles before launch. According to a recent article by Bill Gertz, a U.N. panel of experts from the Security Council confirmed that China had transferred these TELs to North Korea.
The launchers were made by Sanjiang Special Truck Company of the Chinese Aerospace and Industry Corporation (CASIC). Other TELs carried the “Sinotruk” logo on the fuel tank plus shared some identified features with the Sinotruk HOWO 6 x 6 series trucks shown at the Oct. 10, 2015 military parade. It is disappointing to note that in this latest round of economic sanctions announced by the Treasury Department, neither SINOTRUK or CASIC was included.
In The Washington Times, Richard Fisher identifies actions we must take on an expedited basis, including development and deployment of new low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, to deter China, Russia, and North Korea from taking further aggressive actions — a policy which I fully support. Though these will take time to implement, we must start.
Even with all the proposed actions that we must take, the unpredictable and destabilizing Kim Jong-un would be left in power. North Korea does have a key vulnerability, however: food. The country currently is suffering from a serious April to June 2017 drought that seriously diminished the availability of basic food commodities, including rice, maize, wheat, etc. An estimated 18 out of 26 million North Koreans continue to suffer from food malnutrition. Ten and a half million North Koreans (41 percent of the total population) are undernourished.
Between 1995-2008, the United States provided North Korea over $1.3 Billion in humanitarian assistance, mostly food. In early 2009, however, President G.W. Bush suspended all aid, as the food went mostly to the military and the power elites, instead of to the intended recipients, the general population.
Now, even though North Korea continues to ignore all U.N. sanctions, the Kim Jong-un rogue regime will be given more than $6 million dollars of aid from the UNWorld Food Programme to help North Korea recover from its most recent severe drought that has devastated its annual harvest. UNICEF will be given $2.5 million to distribute in food aid while the World Food Programme will receive $2.8 million.
The question needs to be asked: Why is the U.N. providing food grants to North Korea when that regime continues to expend vast sums on an out-of-control nuclear weapon program and thumb its nose at the U.N.? It must be made clear North Korea cannot continue to ignore U.N. sanctions and continue with its advanced nuclear weapon program, then expect the U.N. to bail out the political elite and military by providing food aid which most likely will not be given to those who need it, the general populace.
Using “food” as a weapon to force regime change is not what civilized nations normally do, but North Korea is not a normal nation. It is rogue nation that not only subjects its people to unimaginable humanitarian crises, but is also is ruled by a destabilizing regime that has threatened to cause the deaths of millions of Americans. Therefore, extreme measures are required prior to taking military actions.
Based on current de facto reports, the Kim Jong-un regime is on shaky ground with the power elites due to his unpredictable actions. Denial of food could trigger an internal revolt with the objective of removing the regime. The Kim Jong-un regime cannot continue to be allowed to ignore U.N. sanctions without serious consequences.
• James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.
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