September 21, 2016

ELI LAKE: Preparing for North Korea’s Inevitable Collapse.

Crimes against humanity generally cost a regime its legitimacy, if not its sovereignty. And yet most national security professionals would regard the collapse of the North Korean slave state as a calamity. The reason for this is simple: all the nuclear weapons and material. A 2015 study from the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies estimated North Korea possessed 10 to 16 nuclear weapons, and will possess 20 to 100 such weapons by 2020. This says nothing of the highly enriched nuclear fuel the state has produced or the mobile rockets and longer-range missiles to launch the warheads.

Trying to secure all this after a chaotic collapse or overthrow of the Kim regime would be a nightmare.

But not the only nightmare, as I wrote more than a decade ago:

Whether or not there’s a war, when North Korea collapses there’s going to be a humanitarian crisis on a scale the world has never seen — 22 million scared, hungry, and desperate people left without any semblance of anything familiar.

And then there are the costs of reunification. A country smaller and less rich than West Germany would have to pay the transition costs of de-programing and westernizing a country larger, far poorer, more oppressed than East Germany. For additional perspective, the Germanys reunited 25 years ago, and the bills still aren’t paid.

North Korea’s nukes are the immediate concern, but the North Koreans will require decades of healing.

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