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What Does ‘Denuclearization’ Mean in the Negotiations for an End to the Korean War?

Ending US occupation of South Korea

Given the long history of US basing nuclear weapons in South Korea, it would be understandable for Kim to worry about leaving those troops there. What the US has in South Korea is not really meant to be a bulwark against another North Korean invasion. After all, given China’s enormous influence over what US American journalists have long called the “hermit kingdom,” any attack on the North on the South these days is highly unlikely. Besides, what in the final analysis would 28,000 troops do against an army of over one million, backed by China? Rather, the US has, since the Korean War Armistice in 1953, used its bases in South Korea as a platform for strategic threats against both China, the USSR and later, Russia. As long as those bases are there, maintained and operated by those 28,000 US troops, it is easy on short notice to move in nuclear-capable aircraft and ships that would put American nuclear weaponry on China’s and Russia’s doorsteps. Those bases also give the US the ability, should it wish, to bring in weapons that would threaten North Korea with either nuclear or non-nuclear obliteration on short notice (as witness the giant bombs the Pentagon was recently said to be moving within range of the North when Trump was threating Kim with “fire and fury” just a few months back).

Kim, no doubt (who received an excellent education in Switzerland in his youth), has a lot of history in mind as he negotiates with the US. It’s a history of his country’s having been completely leveled during the Korean War, to the extent that towards the end of the conflict US bomber pilots were returning to Japan and other bases with full loads of bombs that they were emptying into the ocean for safety’s sake before landing, because they couldn’t find any targets to hit anymore. Every footbridge and two-story building in the North had been destroyed, along with the death of one-third of the population. There’s also the history of the US invading and destroying countries whose leaders don’t kowtow properly to US demands, from Nicaragua, Grenada and Panama to Iraq, Libya and lately Syria. And Kim certainly also has Iran in mind, where an agreement was reached by six countries led by the US with the Iranian government under which Iran agreed to halt its processing of nuclear fuel, and to hand over to Russia all of its enriched uranium and plutonium, in return for a lifting of sanctions, only to have the next US president back out of lifting the sanctions, and then to threaten to back out of the agreement altogether, with an attack on Iran being raised as a possible option.

It would be truly shocking if, given all this history, Kim were to agree to simply get rid of the nuclear weapons and missiles his country has recently successfuly developed while allowing the US to continue its military basing in and its operational control of the military of South Korea, all on a promise that the US would not attack the North anytime in the future.

US agreements these days are widely seen as not being worth much, and that is certain to be a concern for the Kim government as it negotiates with the US and confronts US demands that it give up its nuclear weapons.

story | by Dr. Radut