The Conundrum of Kim Jong-un’s Nuclear Ambition


Due to the horror and damages of US air raids during the Korean War, Kim’s development of nuclear weapons had wide support from North Korean people, who always have fear about their security as the US has always been hostile to North Korea and kept quite a few troops in South Korea.

Kim was very clear that without reform he could not feed Korean people so as to win popular support for his Kim Dynasty. I described in my previous post his lack of power to overcome conservatives’ resistance to his reform so that he could not carry out his agricultural reform to feed his people. However, he was shrewd enough to know that due to fear of US attack, North Korean people put national security before food supply so that he exploits their security concerns and concentrated resources on development of nuclear weapons and ICBMs. US stringent sanctions on North Korea help him put the blame of food shortage on US sanctions.

By so doing, he further upset China as China wants good relations with the US to avoid Thucydides Trap. China has reduced its aids to Kim to the minimum, but it had to provide North Korea with food and other necessities so that North Koreans would not flee into China in large number for their survival.

China has a long border with North Korea difficult to guard in winter when border rivers are frozen.

In fact, North Korea’s nuclear weapons are also a threat to China; therefore, Kim is now doing what China dislikes.

Anyway, the US plays into Kim’s hands in taking Kim seriously and putting pressure on Kim and even threatening Kim with military attack. It helps Kim to lie to North Korean people that they have to suffer hunger as their government has to use the country’s meager resources in developing nuclear weapons to ensure their security.

At the BRICS summit in Xiamen early September 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters that further sanctions were “useless and ineffective”. Putin said that the North Koreans will “eat grass, but they won’t abandon their [nuclear] program unless they feel secure.” It showed Putin’s wisdom.

The US is obsessed with military solution. That is perhaps what a world hegemon is used to. Its failures in wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have not made it realize its inability in resolving problems by military means. There is very simple diplomatic solution to the crisis. Conclude a peace treaty with North Korea and China and withdraw all US troops from South Korea. North Korea simply dare not attack South Korea while China will not allow North Korea to start a war as it wants peace and stability around it for it to grow strong enough to resist US bully. Moreover, China has lots of economic interests in South Korea.

Maintaining the survival of Kim Dynasty is Kim Jong-un’s first priority. If he starts a war, his Kim Dynasty will immediately collapse. His nuclear weapons can only deter others’ attack but if he is the first to attack others, his nuclear weapons will be entirely destroyed and his poorly equipped army is no match to South Korean and US troops that dominate the air and sea. Moreover, China has already warned Kim that China will not help him if he starts a war.

Therefore, the US shall look down on Kim instead of regarding Kim’s nuclear weapons as a major threat. If so Kim will be in trouble as after all he has to feed his people with food instead of nuclear bombs and ICBMs.

With security ensured by nuclear warheads and ICBMs, Kim has to develop North Korean economy to feed his people. As he is shrewd, he will try to negotiate for a resolution of the nuclear crises in order to get as much benefit as possible. He is lucky that current US politicians are not shrewd.

Article by Chan Kai Yee.


2 Comments on “The Conundrum of Kim Jong-un’s Nuclear Ambition”

  1. Simon says:

    On the contrary the current situation suite China very well despite sanctions and public disapproval of what North Korea is doing. If everything was fine and dandy with North Korea and they dispanded their nuclear program can you imagine what America will try and do to stir up trouble? It will be dropping the One China Policy, re-establishing relations with Taiwan and cause trouble for China in SCS and ECS. The very real threat from North Korea gave China a stick to beat America with. This situation also help America as it provide excuse to sell weapons to S Korea and Japan and request security payments from these countries.
    If China really want regime change they can easily take out Kim Jong Un either through assasination, precision strike or trigger leadership change from within.

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  2. Steve says:

    The current US leadership is like a ‘brady bunch family affair encircled by sharks and scoundrels with the likes of ex Bannon, Wolff and disloyal misfits.’ Old head Trump has been labelled as a Moron, Dope, etc by his political advisers. No respect for leadership. A democratic leader should be able to delegate responsibilities to his staff, but his staff is looking down on Trump as inept.

    The only way out for Kim Jong Un is to adopt China’s economic model and employ Chinese advisers on how to feed his people. Nth Korea is a sorry state of affairs surrounded by mountains lacking in agriculture. The US will continue locking in the Korean peninsula militarily to contain not just China, but Sth Korea by selling more arms. The US has over 400 military bases/assets from Guam to Sth Korea, Australia, Japan, etc, etc and will use the Korean peninsula, ECS, SCS, Taiwan as hot spots for military conflict.

    Although, the military strength of the US is not like it was 30 years ago or even 50 years ago, I cannot see the US retreating from it.

    In the meantime, Nth Korea needs lots of farmers for agricultural produce.

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