Kim Jong-un views nuclear weapons as a way to escape fate of Saddam and Gadhafi

Kim Jong-un views nuclear weapons as a way to escape fate of Saddam and Gadhafi
From CBC - August 13, 2017

William Tobey, anuclear non-proliferation expert who has takenpart in pastSix Party Talks with North Korea, says anyone who claims to perfectly understand the motivations of the North Korean government, and does not live inPyongyang, is probably blowing smoke.

ButTobeyandmost experts agree thatNorth Korean leader Kim Jong-un's No. 1 goal is self-preservation. For Kim, thepursuit of nuclear weapons and amissile program is a rationalway to stave offattempts by the U.S. to overthrowhis regime.

"I think most people ascribe a motivation of regime preservationto their nuclear programs," Tobey said. "So it would be used to deter any attacks that would be aimed at dislodging the government."

Nuclear 'treasure sword'

The North Korean government hassaid as much in its public statements, Tobey said, and those shouldbe taken "at face value."

A commentarypublished by North Korea's state KCNA news agencyin January last year stated that"history proves that powerful nuclear deterrenceservesas thestrongest treasure sword for frustratingoutsider's aggression."

The piece suggested North Korea fears suffering the same demise as Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Moammar Gadhafi's Libya, that neither could "escape the fate of destruction after being deprived of their foundations of nuclear development and giving up undeclared programs of their own accord."

PhilipYun, a former senior adviser to two U.S. co-ordinators for North Korea at the Department of State, said that he has been inhundredsof hours of negotiations with the North Koreans. "Every single time during that period, they talked about [Slobodan] Milosevicand they talked aboutSaddamHusseinandsubsequentlytalked about Gadhafi if theyhadnuclear weapons they'd still be there."

The latest series of North Korean missile and nuclear weapontests has sparked a war of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and Pyongyang.Trump has threatened the state with "fire and fury,"while North Korea has threatened to strike the U.S. territory of Guam.

Preserving the dynasty

If North Koreatruly believes an attackis imminent, it wouldlaunch its own strike, believing it hasnothing to lose, said TomCollina, director of policy at Ploughshares Fund, a think-tank dedicated to reducing the dangers of nuclear weapons.

But North Korea would not attack "out of the blue," because it knows that would be suicidal,the end of theregime,he said.

"These people are smart about preserving themselves and their dynasty," Collina said. "They may be willing to starve their people, they may be willing to have everyone in the world be their enemy, but they are survivors."

"The first rule of the Kim dynasty is to preservethe Kim dynasty. And the second rule of the Kim dynasty is to preserve the Kim dynasty."

Nuclear pride


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