News & Politics

How Serious Is North Korea about Ending Its Nuclear and Missile Tests?

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

North Korea announced that they would put an end to testing their ICBMs and nuclear weapons, a development that Donald Trump greeted as “big progress.”

Fox News:

“From April 21, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” the Korean Central News Agency said, according to Yonhap News. “The North will shut down a nuclear test site in the country’s northern side to prove the vow to suspend nuclear test.”

Who is this announcement meant for? The U.S. or South Korea?

North Korea’s decision Friday was made in a meeting of the ruling party’s Central Committee, during which Kim, according to the Korean Central News Agency, said, “Nuclear development has proceeded scientifically and in due order and the development of the delivery strike means also proceeded scientifically and verified the completion of nuclear weapons.

“We no longer need any nuclear test or test launches of intermediate and intercontinental range ballistics missiles and because of this the northern nuclear test site has finished its mission,” he said.

North Korea also vowed to actively engage with regional neighbors and the international community to secure peace in the Korean Peninsula and create an “optimal international environment” to build its economy.

Is North Korea giving up the Juche ideology — a reliance on its own resources and a complete and total isolation from the rest of the world?

The North Korean regime is based on Juche.

The Juche ideology emphasizes North Korea’s political, economic, and military self-reliance, and it became the state ideology and sole guiding principle of the government following the rise of a one-party communist state in the country following World War 2. The ideology asserts that the individual is the master of one’s destiny and encourages the North Koreans to work as masters of revolution and construction. This political philosophy is based on the idea that man is the master of everything and he decides everything. The idea of Juche finally became the official state ideology of the People’s Republic of Korea, and it also brought into consideration the independence of the masses.

Would they give it up to create an “optimal international environment” to build a better economy?

This hardly seems likely. The leadership principal where the Kim dynasty is seen as near-divine would seem to preclude any change that would threaten that principal, including opening up the country to foreign ideas.

Kim Jong-un did not take power to dismantle the regime. Therefore, it seems probable that the announced suspension of missile and bomb tests is aimed at South Korea’s leadership, driving a wedge between Seoul and the U.S. Donald Trump is not convinced that Kim is serious about complete denuclearization, which means that the military option is still very much on the table. But holding out a carrot for South Korea would make it even more unlikely that President Moon Jae-in would support a U.S. strike — at least for a couple of years before any denuclearization talks collapse.

Kim is playing the long game and every day that his regime survives as a nuclear power is a day that puts North Korea in the international spotlight.