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North Korea Unlikely to Cancel Nuclear Projects

The US’s stance on North Korea is contradictory and problematic, says a scholar.

By Han Bingbin Updated Jun.19

None of the actions taken by external powers, whether the US or South Korea, are likely to prevent Kim Jong-un from continuing to enhance North Korea’s nuclear program, said Sun Xingjie, a professor at Northeast China’s Jilin University, writing for Lianhe Zaobao, the Chinese-language morning daily in Singapore. Sun believes Kim’s next move will be to develop an air defense system. 
According to Sun, the US stance on North Korea has thus far been contradictory and thus untrustworthy. While it promises good intentions and hints at the possibility of negotiations, it’s devoted to a series of aggressive moves such as deploying two aircraft carrier battle groups near Japan, carrying out joint military exercises with Japan and South Korea, and conducting intercontinental missile interception experiments at home.   

While the US reiterates its safety commitment to South Korea, Sun questioned, how would it keep the promise while maintaining an aggressive attitude against North Korea, which holds the South's safety hostage?

The THAAD issue will also remain a key obstacle that makes any pressure against North Korea impractical, Sun said, referring to the anti-missile defense system set to be hosted by South Korea for the US, a frequent subject of complaint by China. The increasing nuclear threat from North Korea will lead the South to give up any risk-taking moves and seek protection from the US, Sun said. Once the South gives up the strategy of balance diplomacy, he said, the game of superpower politics will still linger in the region and embolden the North.  

The US’s attempt to tie up the nuclear threat with the South China Sea issue in its bargain with China will likely impede the two countries from jointly working to solve the former issue, Sun said. Given the efforts it has made over the nuclear issue, he said, China deserves kudos. There are many topics for discussion between China and the US, the scholar said, and any rush to solve them at once will only harm the mutual trust between the two countries.