Why does the US not just accept North Korea's nuclear ambitions and attempt to mend relationships?

  • Many experts propose that it is not practically possible (without engaging in war and endangering the lives of many civilians, in both US and ally territory) to prevent North Korea from building nuclear weapons.

    Given that, why does the US not just accept that, and attempt to mend relationships? Instead, we have Trump issuing threats and refusing any sort of diplomatic approach.

    What is the point of this, and why does the US not just accept the situation, when they can't do anything about it?

    Not that I try to say Trump is taking the correct road, but your approach is too easy to work. Easy visualization of you becoming president. You try to negotiate with north Korea to stay calm and convince them to not feel threatened by you. So they respond "All the interaction in our country and with south Korea is a preparation of invasion, stop it and we are fine" So what you do? pretend to consent? making it worse when revealed. agreeing? Would piss of south Korea and some other allies, and leave NK free hand for what ever their plans. Or rejecting? Leaving us where we are.

    @dhein You could state that the US can't invade because then DPR would fire the nuclear missiles so there's no point the US even trying, so the interaction with ROK can't be an invasion attempt because such would be suicidal. I'm not sure how well that would work though.

    @dhein I would argue that no, it's not a preparation for invasion, as we have an economical interest in a connection with South Korea which is completely unrelated to military affairs. I would further argue that we also want a similar relationship with North Korea. If they disagree with that, well, so what? Diplomacy doesn't mean everybody agrees about everything all the time. There'll be disputes and problems, but the important thing is that there'll be *progress* and *discussion*. This is how grownups solve issues. If you just want to bring out the bazookas, that's on you.

    @dhein Further, in a measure of good faith, I would limit US military presence in South Korea and Japan. We have 15 bases in South Korea alone. I think that number could reasonably be reduced without it affecting our abilities to engage in a war with North Korea if it ever came to that. Take, for example, the bases near Seoul. They are the first ones to be hit by North Korean artillery, so even in the event of war, they are unlikely to be of any practical use, but, symbolically, they are overly aggressive.

    @ChristianGeiselmann North Korea has invaded South Korea before, and shown signs of wanting to invade again. There's no reason to believe that they still don't want to reunite Korea by force, nor that they wouldn't see nuclear weapons as means to prevent the US and China from stopping them.

    "...why does the US not just accept the situation, when they can't do anything about it?" Probably they can do something about it. Maybe together with China, Russia, Japan, South Korea they could all sit together and decide what to do with North Korea. So I guess the premise of this question is somewhat debatable.

    @DinoSoru: You are aware that South And NK are in some kind of war with each other? Reducing the military presence in SK wouldn't decrease the USA's ability to engage in war with NK, but it would expose SK to NK's military arbitrariness. So yeah it could go the way that it will relax and everyone will be fine. Do the same for near east and congratz, you achieved world peace. Or NK would simply exploit at some point the good faith and again, at best you are where we are already, but more likely we will be where we are, with USA having some really pissed allies. Consider whats more likely.

    user 1's answer is correct. Mending ties with North Korea will mean no justification for US military presence in South Korea and Japan, and also no w to Chinese and Russian borders.

    You assume that the USA considers that any other country (with the possible exception of Israel) actually *has* the right to "have nuclear ambitions". This assertion requires proof IMO.

    @DinoSoru "This is how grownups solve issues." - and is therefore usually irrelevant to discussions about US politics, whether national or international.

    The question assumes that all of the friction is only because North Korea has pursued nukes. Their overall behavior goes beyond that.

    Why do you assume the relationship can be mended?

    US has shown no interest in establishing diplomatic relationships with current regime. Sanctions have hurt the North Korean citizens more than the regime which I believe just creates more hatred toward the US.

    Well, North Korea's nuclear ambitions are "bomb the White House". That's not something to be okay with.

    **"Instead, we have Trump issuing threats and refusing any sort of diplomatic approach."** -- For the record, this has been pretty standard Presidential rhetoric for the last several presidents, including Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush again, etc...

    *"Why doesn't Commissioner Gordon and Batman just accept the Jokers ambitions and attempt to mend the relationship?"*; you question is based on a flawed assumption that their *"ambitions"* are logical, reasonable, and rational as well as being extremely naive about how the world works.

  • From the USA point of view there are two types of arguments. The first ones are those that state that the fewer nuclear capable countries there are, the better1:

    • Fewer nuclear warheads at risk of being captured/sold to rogue actors.

    • Non-nuclear countries are less of a worry if they become unstable.

    • Every foreign country, no matter how friendly, is at the least a competitor. And countries that currently side with you may change their stance in the future. The less leverage other countries have, the better. For example, once WWII ended the USA stopped helping the development of UK nuclear weapons.

    The second part are the reasons for which North Korea may be viewed as a specially worrysome nuclear power are:

    • It is certainly not friendly to the USA.

    • It is technically in a state of war with one of USA's allies, and occasionally acts aggressively against it (including exchanging artillery fire).

    • It has publicly conducted illegal actions in other countries2 (kidnapped Japanese citizens, murder of Kim Jong Nam).

    • It is a totalitarian regime, which means fewer controls preventing a single individual deciding to use the nuclear weapons.

    • It has little foreign contact, which means both less leverage against it (has no foreign trade to lose if an embargo is placed) and less knowledge of its internal politics (what things are they interested in and which things they see as threatening).

    • The North Korean weapon program is in breach of previous pacts to which the USA was party to.

    Additionally, internally it is very hard to sell to the public that the USA cannot impose its will in a tiny, backwards country in the Far East and that it has to begin talks without being able to dictate the terms. Politicians court the public favour by the use of grandstanding claims ("Our mighty army! The USA are an exceptional case!") which do not mix well with realpolitik.


    1And yes, you can claim that it is hypocritical for one of the nuclear superpowers to have this aim. Others can claim that, while this approach benefits the USA, it also benefits the rest of the world. We are looking at the reasons from the USA point of view.

    2Here again, the USA has done that, too. Did I tell you that these were the reasons from the USA point of view?

    "Non-nuclear countries are less of a worry if they become unstable." Or, in North Korea's case, if they are _already_ unstable.

    I feel like one bullet point should be that if you just accept one crazy dictatorship becoming a nuclear power, that sends the wrong message to other crazy dictatorships.

    North Korea has also shown a concert video where they simulate nuking San Francisco. We hopefully have all learned from the 1930s and 1940s that sometimes when totalitarian regimes signal they will do X, they sometimes DO do X.

    @MatthewGunn Actually, saying "X is like Hitler" (or Stalin, or whoever) is neither insightful nor useful at all; do you want USA attacking Russia (because intervention in Ukraine, "it is like Hitler with Tchecoslokia"), China (Tibet), Israel (Palestinian territories)etc?. Everybody can claim "my enemy is like Hitler", so that kind of comments may help you feel better but they add no practical value at all...

    "It is a totalitarian regime, which means less controls preventing a single individual deciding to use the nuclear weapons." Is this significantly different to the USA, though? My understanding was that POTUS has complete authority to command a nuclear strike without requiring anybody else's authorisation.

    On the OTHER hand, N-Korea hasn't invaded the USA in over 60 years neither. Under Obama there was some slight rappprochment as far as familiy relations was concerned. But now we have an irrational, HIGHLY incompetent fool in the WH, who has to be constrained by all of his "generals" in order to avoid 10 million dead South Koreans, and of course, the destruction of California. Then again, that WOULD BE a good way to ensure a 2020 win for Trump. What republican likes California? Not many do.

    @GeoffreyBrent That is a good point. It is used mainly to refer to the need for Presidents to not alienate the people (or the Senate to the point of impeachment) and the filter that their election represents (removing the craziest ones from power), but on paper it seems that there is little preventing a suddenly insane President from launching an unnecessary nuclear attack (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Command_Authority). One could guess than in this case other people in the chain of command could refuse such an order, but that is just speculation.

    @GwenKillerby I have not said that the USA should attatck the NK neither the opposite, because that would be off-topic as opinion based. I have just listed why things are not as simple as the OP expressed in his question.

    @SJuan76 The argument is that (1) N. Korea is different than any existing nuclear power in that it *publicly celebrates* the use of nuclear weapons on its adversaries and (2) that message, that celebration of the use of nuclear weapons should not be *entirely* ignored. When a crazy guy on the street says he's going to stab you, it's a mistake to ignore that threat because sometimes (even if its rare) the crazy guy is conveying true intentions. How would you advise making the point that fantastical, seemingly irrational threats should not be ignored? Is a reference to the 30s so unreasonable?

    @MatthewGunn as stated above, I do not advise, tell what should be done or what should not be done, as these points are highly opinable and therefore off-topic. Feel free to post your own answer (and receive the community feedback and votes) if you have something on-topic to add, otherwise I suggest both you and Gwen to move your discussion somewhere else.

    @SJuan76 I was merely suggesting an additional bullet point for your second list of "reasons for which North Korea may be viewed as a specially worrysome." Unlike other nuclear powers, N. Korea publicly celebrates firing nuclear missiles at the US. That's special and worrisome.

    "once WWII ended the USA stopped helping the development of UK nuclear weapons" Do you have sources for that? I don't believe Great Britan developed nuclear weapons before the end of WWII and also USA did help them doing that.

    @Uwe https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapons_and_the_United_Kingdom#End_of_American_cooperation. It only resumed 13 years later, after the UK already had its own fission weapons and once it was clear that the UK had designed its own fussion weapon (which could have worked or not).

    @reirab I think there's a fair argument to be made that the North Korea Kim regime is stable. It's survived a war, three generations of leaders, assassination attempts, sanctions, and regular international condemnation, and it's still here some 70-ish years later.

    @SJuan76 I usually don't care about misspellings of my country's name, but ... man you really couldn't use the wikipedia? Tchecoslokia is just about as far as you can get with people understanding you didn't mean Poland. Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia please.

    @SJuan76 You have the chronology slightly wrong. US-UK nuclear weapons co-operation resumed in July 1958, after the UK had already tested a kinda-sorta-mostly H-bomb (Grapple X, November 1957) and an actual H-bomb (Grapple Y, April 1958).

    FYI it's just *realpolitik*, without the s.

    @GeoffreyBrent: Yes, it is significantly different than USA, as far as we know. The US military is trained to disobey illegal orders. The senior officers overseeing the nuclear arsenal are especially trained to be certain that a verified threat exists before obeying an order to use nuclear weapons. If the president orders an attack on country X and there is no prior indication that country X is preparing for imminent war, *supposedly* they will ignore that order. The North Korean military does whatever Kim tells it to do.

    @JamesKPolk: Your post either implies that NK soldiers are not trained to disobey illegal orders, and/or that an order by the Chairman of the WPK _can_ be illegal, and/or that the use of nuclear weapons as ordered by the Chairman of the WPK may be conditionally illegal. Do you have any source for that (laws et al)?

    @SebastianMach: One might be hard pressed to find sources about NKs military operations. And if one has a trustworthy source he's most likly not blabbing about it on the internet.

    @DRF But I did mean Poland! :-D. I did mix in the French version of the name; it happens to me sometimes as both English and French are foreign languages to me and country names have no clear rules. And, since precision is indeed a nice thing to have, let me remind you that the actual name of your country (in English) is probably either Slovakia or Czech Republic/Czechia, Czechoslovakia is no longer a valid option :-P

    @Christian: Indeed. Given the statement I (intended to have) replied to: "Yes, it is significantly different than USA, as far as we know. The US military is trained to disobey illegal orders." This, to me, reads like that's in contrast to NK soldiers. The statement goes on like that; and ends with another speculation: They do whatever Kim tells to do. But if it's that what the law dictates, to do what the Chairman says, then NK soldiers are just as law-abiding as US soldiers, and the premise of that comment is wrong. He presents speculation as fact and mixes different arguments together. [...]

    @Christian: Don't get me wrong. I absolutely believe that Kim-Jong un should end and NK should open up and unite with SK again (hey, I am German, at last). But we should not forget reason in discussions like this. And we should also try to understand the point of view of the "bad boys". And we should not lose our skepticism against our own politics and actions. See also that gem of an answer: https://politics.stackexchange.com/a/19206/16724 .

  • Enough deterrent

    The United States hasn't invaded North Korea in over sixty years. Why does North Korea need nuclear weapons? The existing threat of artillery hitting Seoul is more than sufficient to prevent an invasion. We know this because the US hasn't invaded North Korea to prevent the development of nuclear weapons because of the more conventional threat to Seoul.

    What is different about nuclear missiles? They can be used to attack countries other than South Korea. If North Korea shells or invades Seoul, they can't also deter an invasion by threatening to shell Seoul. They lose their deterrent if they use it. Meanwhile, nuclear weapons leaves them with two threats. So they can use one and retain the other. For example, they could invade South Korea while threatening other countries. Or they could use nukes on a more distant country while threatening Seoul if invaded.

    If they wait for the right moment, they might be right. Barack Obama did not intervene militarily when Russia invaded Ukraine. He might not have countered a nuclear North Korea if it had advanced to Seoul. But the US might react differently to an attack from North Korea. For one thing, Obama is no longer president. Also, North Korea is not China much less Russia. It's a small country with few places to hide missile infrastructure and limited missiles. But even if wrong, they might still have to invade to find out they're wrong.

    Mending relations

    Given that, why does the US not just accept that, and attempt to mend relationships?

    There is no evidence that North Korea wants a mended relationship. Obama was president for eight years. His biases favored diplomatic relations, which he opened with both Iran and Cuba. If North Korea wanted mended relations, they had eight years to develop them. And that ignores the fact that during the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations, the US was actually giving North Korea aid. They weren't exactly hostile to diplomatic relations.

    North Korea could have easily had a "mended" relationship for twenty-four years. While I wouldn't have followed Donald Trump's approach, as it is too noisy in my opinion, it's not much of an obstacle to normalized relations.

    They could do something about it

    when they can't do anything about it?

    But that's the thing. In this particular case, the US could do something about it. The situation today is that North Korea is no particular threat to the US or even Japan. They are close to developing such a threat. But they are still at the point that a preemptive attack would work. However, that doesn't prevent a conventional artillery attack on Seoul.

    It is generally acknowledged that if North Korea did use nuclear weapons on the US, the US would then destroy it. But if that's what's going to happen, the cheapest time for it to happen is now. North Korea will never be weaker than it is today. And Kim Jong-un is on a train that can only go two ways. One way leads to an invasion of South Korea. The other way leads to the fall of his government.

    Any other options he might have are already available to him. If they interested him, he could have pursued them during the Obama administration. Instead, he pursued nuclear weapons, which are on the path to invade South Korea.

    The question then is not if the US and North Korea will go to war. The question is when they will do so. Pretending that that is not the reality won't make it any less true. And delaying that war until later doesn't help the US position at all. The US is at its strongest relative to North Korea today. Delay only makes North Korea stronger without making the US stronger.

    The only other real option is that China steps forward and removes North Korea's ability to produce nuclear weapons. However, they have shown no signs of being willing to do that. Perhaps the US could use trading relations to pressure China, but the truth is that China exports far more to the US than the US exports to China. That path leads to more US pain than Chinese pain.

    Four options:

    1. The US does nothing and North Korea becomes stronger.
    2. The US bribes North Korea with aid and North Korea agrees to stay where it is (and keeps to that agreement despite breaking previous agreements).
    3. China steps in. Unlikely, since they helped create the current situation.
    4. A military solution. Very painful for South Korea.

    If #3 is not really on the table and #2 and #1 are unacceptable, what's that leave? From that standpoint, the US is just waiting for South Korea to realize that and evacuate Seoul.

    There are no good solutions. They are only different types of bad. Obama tried #1. Bush and Clinton tried #2. Net result? We're here today. Trump is pursuing #3, which I find unlikely. Absent that, eventually either the US or North Korea will move to #4.

    US is strong compared to PRNK, but not so much compared to China. China has said that it will not back PRNK if the US retaliates, but that it will if the US attacks pre-emptively. That changes the military calculus.

    I also don't think Kim wants nukes to attack with them - he wants them to avoid regime change (he saw what happened to Sadam and Gadaffi).

    @MartinBonner N.K. has had developing nukes since before either of those events.

    @reirab: But they have accelerated since.

    @MartinBonner They've certainly _advanced_ since then, but I'm not sure that there's sufficient evidence to say that they've _accelerated_. They've pretty much been working as fast as possible the whole time, though, prior to their first actual test, they were constrained somewhat by the need to keep the program secret enough to have some plausible deniability, since they were still denying its existence at that point. They're still working on things that the U.S. and Russia were doing in the 1950s.

    You first state that `The existing threat of artillery hitting Seoul is more than sufficient to prevent an invasion.`, and later that `The situation today is that North Korea is no particular threat to the US or even Japan`, to conclude with `From that standpoint, the US is just waiting for South Korea to realize that and evacuate Seoul`. It is not difficult to see why NK may see the threat on Seoul as not enough to neutralize a (supposed) threat from the USA. And the lack of USA intervention is generally seen as a result of Chinese protection (see 1950), which could be lost in the future...

    Important point: the US did not invade North Korea, the North Koreans invaded the South. Everything that happened, including lines of battle moving past the DMZ, was a simple consequence of that invasion.

    You forgot option #5 ... The US and/or other countries implement a strategic covert solution: **assassination** of NK's leadership. To say that this would be difficult to do is putting it mildly -- Kim Jong-un lives in one of the top ten most secure residences in the world and is constantly under guard. Factored into such a strategy must be the question "If Kim is removed who will replace him and will that be enough to stop nukes?" The cost/benefit analysis of avoiding (global?) nuclear confrontation may make us or some other country willing to undertake such a high risk operation.

    This does not compute: `but the truth is that China exports far more to the US than the US exports to China. That path leads to more US pain than Chinese pain`

  • What is there that the US can do to "mend relationships"? I certainly can't think of anything: can you? Seems as though the poor relationship between North Korea (and the rest of the world, basically) is entirely the fault of North Korea, and always has been.

    North and South Korea started out as one country & culture, not even one lifetime ago, yet look at the different paths they chose to follow. The South is prosperous and a welcome member of the international community, the North is poor and an international pariah. The US is responsible for this only in that it helped prevent the North from overrunning the South. Everything else, including that attempt to take over the South, has been entirely the choice of the NK leadership.

    So now you have a country ruled by a third-generation dictatorship verging on theocracy, with a government filled with people who are either mostly or entirely out of touch with reality, or who are afraid to speak out because that will get them killed by the true believers. How do you "mend relationships" with that?

    It's like trying to talk about evolution with your creationist neighbor: there's simply no way to connect. And if your neighbor also happens to be a paranoid sociopath with a closet full of automatic weapons, you're better off not even trying to start a discussion :-)

    I think that by talking about "the different paths they chose to follow" you're leaving out important context. Korea was colonized by Japan, the north was directly liberated by the USSR, and about 1.5 million North Korean civilians died during the Korean War. Also, you talk about prosperity in South Korea, but leave out the dictatorship and repression that continued for decades; it wasn't until relatively recently that South Korea became a prosperous democracy.

    @Andrew Piliser: The USSR simply replaced Japanese colonization with its own. The North Koreans started that war, the consequences of it are therefore on their own heads.

    The North Korean government may have started that war, but can we blame the North Korean people? Shouldn't we blame the USSR since they effectively had control over the North Korean government? Was the US control of South Korea not also similar to colonization?

    @Andrew Piliser: How are the North Korean people, other than the Kims and their clique, relevant? They have no voice in any of this. Nor do I really understand why you'd think the US assisting South Korea in rebuilding and defense after WWII is similar to colonization. AFAIK, no significant number of Americans have moved there with the intent of permanently settling, nor does the US control the SK government. The US does not seem to gain great financial advantage, either, since the balance of payments has generally been in SK's favor to the last several decades.

    The North Korean people are relevant because they will suffer the consequences. If you want to say that the Kim family made their choices, then say that. Also, the USSR didn't settle NK or take control of the NK government but you were fine with calling that colonization.

    @Andrew Piliser: The North Korean people are not relevant in the sense that they have no voice in decisions. Of course they will suffer consequences, just as they have been and are now suffering the consequences of the Kim's rule. And I did not call the Soviet presence in NK "colonization", I said that the USSR merely replaced the Japanese. If you want more precise writing, get the people running this forum to remove the space limits and ban on paragraphing.

  • International politics are not simple, especially among nuclear powers. If we were to consider "letting" North Korea have a nuclear arsenal, we must look at who they are. Consider a more personal question. You and your family are having a picnick. In front of you is a young child with a loaded firearm. Would you try to befrend them and try to convince them to eat alongside your family while they hold onto that firearm? Or would you seek to remove the firearm from their control? The answer must consider the nature of the child holding the firearm to have any reasonable probability of success.

    Consider:

    • North Korea regularly demonized the United States, threatening to destroy it completely. By the child with a firearm metaphor, this is the child that has already threatened to come to school and kill everyone. Do they mean it? I don't think that's an easy question to answer, but I think it does point out that it is highly unlikely that 4 (or 8) years of a president's efforts are going to undo sixty years of aggression and propaganda.
    • North Korea has a history of not honoring its diplomatic endeavors. The most poignant, in my opinion, is when North Korea declared the "Six Party Talks" never happened. That attitude lasted until China put their foot down, and North Korea had to admit that they happened. This child is one who is known to say one thing and do another, repeatedly.
    • What does North Korea want anyway? We certainly can't agree to be friends with a nation without making sure their attitude is in line with ours, at least minimally. One of North Korea's driving goals is the reunification of Korea on their terms, and they are willing to consider war as a valid tool to achieve those goals.

      In December 1955, Kim Il Sung, the country’s founder-president and Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, said in a speech that "peaceful unification" was the ideal option, and could come about when "we grow stronger" and the "forces of peace, democracy and socialism become more powerful.”

      If that fails, “the problem of reunification might also be solved by war,” he said.

    Oh bother this last one is hard to put into a child with a handgun metaphor. Our relationship with South Korea is as complicated as any international relationship. However, to give it a proper feel, I would suggest the metaphor should be that the child holding the handgun is a boy who believes they should be with your daughter forever, and is willing to rape her if necessary to achieve this goal.

    So with all this, it should be clear that "just being friends" is not easy. That's not to say for certain that it's the wrong path, but one should be aware of just how daunting of a possibility it is.

    Now consider the United State's interests. Honestly, I'd feel comfortable saying that the US doesn't directly care about the building of nuclear weapons. What they care about is the possibility of those weapons being detonated on soil friendly to the US. This leads them to push hard against the building of the weapons, but that's not truly their end goal. Just because North Korea cannot be stopped from building nuclear weapons (if you believe that), does not imply North Korea cannot be stopped from launching them. If you look at it from that frame of reference, you can see why the US uses both carrot and stick, rather than just carrots to accomplish their goals. We may disagree with how much carrot and how much stick is being used, but most agree that both must be used.

    "[P]ossibility of those weapons being detonated on soil friendly to the US" shouldn't bother US, because it's not US soil. US has bases in South Korea to have bases in that region close to China and Russia. If you replace "friendly soil" with more exact "puppet state", the phrase starts looking quite awkward.

    @polkovnikov.ph I stand by my wording. Maybe you have a different definition of "friend" than I do, but mine does include a general interest in my friends not being struck with nuclear weapons.

    If your "friends" are required to be puppets, I'd prefer not to be one.

    @polkovnikov.ph That's your word choice. Do with it what you will.

  • At some point, the nuclear powers-that-be decided that the nuclear arms race underway at the time could only end badly. There is no "black magic" involved in nuclear weapon technology, and basically, every country (or other well-funded organization) in the world could build them. And sooner or later, someone would be angry (or unstable...) enough to actually press the button. Nobody in their right mind really wants that to happen.

    Hence the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was created. In this treaty,

    ...the non-nuclear-weapon states agree never to acquire nuclear weapons and the NPT nuclear-weapon states in exchange agree to share the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology and to pursue nuclear disarmament aimed at the ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

    To oversimplify a bit, you consent to not building nuclear weapons, and you get peaceful nuclear power, and a promise by the nuclear powers not to be threatened with their nuclear weapons.

    At this point of time, there are the following non-signatories:

    • India
    • Israel
    • Pakistan
    • South Sudan

    With the exception of South Sudan (which did not exist prior to 2011 and has been struggling with civil war since 2013), you might recognize a pattern there. (India and Pakistan do have nuclear weapons, Israel refuses to deny or confirm.)

    Taiwan is not a recognized state, but abides by the treaty.

    And then there is North Korea, which has withdrawn from the treaty in 2003.

    So, all other considerations aside (see the other answers), there is the question of what happens if some country simply drops out of the treaty and starts to "go rogue".

    Or, to put it differently, that very treaty itself is currently put to the test. If it falls to pieces (because it becomes clear that nothing untoward will happen if you drop out and start building nukes), North Korea will certainly not be the last state to go for nuclear armament, and it is only a question of time when we'll see another mushroom cloud over some (ex-) city.

    I am a little shocked that nobody else has mentioned the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons!

  • North Korea would not start any nuclear attack to anyone because the first attack will be the last, so why don't the US leave them alone?

    Because US government and US presidents don't want a complete solution for the issue:

    • they show the threat of North Korea to South Korea and Japan and justify their military presence in the region, near the Chinese and Russian borders. (e.g. look how the US use this excuse to justify THAAD deployment to South Korea).
    • for US presidents, conflicts outside the borders are good tools for distracting public opinion from problems people in the US face with; and if needed, wars can unite people behind the president.
    • US economy is dependent on arms trading. Imagine there is no war or major conflicts and threats in the world; Africa, Middle East, East Asia. Then how many jobs are lost?

    In fact, as one can see these days, US politics cause more arm producing from North Korea.

    You don't say what the "complete solution" is that the US government doesn't want. And your question assumes the US controls the actions of North Korea, which you provide no evidence for. That leaves your first point insensible. Also, your first point assumes that South Korea and Japanese defense priorities are dictated by US, which again you provide no evidence for. Finally, your claim that the US economy is "dependent" on arms trading is completely false. This answer is mostly conspiracy theory.

    1- "US controls the actions of North Korea..." Not control, but has effects, see my last sentence...

    2- "South Korea and Japanese defense priorities are dictated by US " Not dictated, but by propaganda and justifications Us can have partial control...

    3- "dependent on arms"... Who supplies Saudi Arabia with weapons? and why? How people in US think about selling weapons to Saudi-Arabia? why US government continue to sell weapons to saudi arabia?

    This answer makes bold claims and accusations, and is in desperate need of some references to back those up.

    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

  • Every other nuclear armed nation doesn't threaten to use the devices on a regular basis. Most don't talk about them at all.

    Whether Kim Jong Un really means it, or whether he's just another twenty something bragging about his new toy, isn't the point. He has threatened to use the weapons offensively. The consequences of a nuclear bomb going off in Seoul, Tokyo, Guam, or Pearl Harbor are too serious to ignore.

    And let's not forget, Kim Jong Un's orders are real. If he says, "Push the button" they'll push the button. Failure to obey could mean execution. Consider a general in the US who refused a Trump bloviation. "Sorry Donny, I resign. Find someone else."

  • Because

    1. WE (the people of the USA) have allowed shady, greedy, political criminals to sit in positions of power who only care about self-interests. These people don't care about what is best for the country or it's people, yet we allow them to dictate everything.

    2. We have allowed corporations to infiltrate everything in America, including politics, and the greedy politicians in office have no problems selling us out for money, and so they (corporations with money) actually control everything (pull the strings). Any decisions that are made are then made for financial interests only, not for the sake of peaceful resolutions.

    3. The US has been one of the most corrupt and manipulative countries in the world, and even more so ever since Israel made us their bitch lap dog. As a result, we have committed heinous acts of treason, criminality, and terrorism against humanity. Because of these atrocities, no other countries will ever trust us. Only the weaker ones agree to our unfair, intrusive and outrageously hypocritical policies.

    4. The world, including Korea, has watched us play dirty games and knows are true intentions (US Propaganda only works on us, not them). Korea likely sees us for the hypocrites we are, thus, doesn't want to be told by the only people in the history of the world to ever use nuclear weapons, what to do with theirs. (If anyone should give up nukes, it should be maniacs who have used them, especially if they used them twice for no good reason).

      It doesn't look good when maniacs & thieves want everyone else to disarm themselves and or be less protected. Especially maniacs with a history of invasions, theft, and injustice under the guise of freedom and liberation.

    5. Our main and real goal is to set up military bases in everyone's backyard. We pretty much brute force our way into others sovereign land if they resist. But only if they're weak and easy prey. N. Korea is not, which is why we sit back and do nothing when a lunatic like Kim-Jon-Un makes threats and fires nukes into the ocean aggressively, but invade places like Iraq over bullshit and lies.

    6. Korea may not have the same resources as the Middle East has for us to steal, but our interests are still purely self-centered, thus, taken as aggressive. N. Koreans aren't a bunch of poor defenseless farmers who live in the desert and can barely fight. So we tread much more carefully and try to negotiate, instead of the normal invade, kill and steal. Negotiations tend to be more complicated with people who know what you're all about, can protect themselves and aren't scared of you.

    These may not seem like good answers separately, but together they paint the picture for real answers to your questions. And they're honest.

    As you have hinted, it would much easier and safer for us to just leave people be. We should only interject in extreme circumstances. But that doesn't suit the goals of greedy, rich and powerful people with agendas. What's best for the world doesn't matter, even if it means the war that leads to millions of deaths.

    [Citation needed].

    post is biased and opinion based rubbish. If you want to bash US behavior and policy, that is fine. Do so in a way that presents facts and builds a case rather than just comes across as paranoid ranting.

  • The USA attempted to mend relations with North Korea in the 90s.

    There was a framework to seal nuclear weapon technology, engage in economic development and trade, and support civilian power stations.

    The treaty was signed.

    The majoirty party in the House (opposite to the president) refused to fund it. The rhetoric used was basically "North Korea is evil, and making peace with evil is evil"; this may be because that is what they believed, or they used it to tar the president and prevent a foreign policy success.

    Agreements on the part of the USA (and North Korea) where reneged, and the agreement fell apart.

    The next president continued this demonization, failing to live up to the agreed upon trade, and generally wagged the dog for popularity. Nothing buys votes like talk of a hostile power everyone must unite behind.

    At this point, it would be stupid of North Korea to trust the USA by giving up the nuclear program and expect the USA to keep its promises; they did it once, and the USA reneged on what they promised. So the USA would have to unilaterally trust that North Korea would follow through on its promises and grant concessions.

    And odds are good that, given the history between the two countries, North Korea would take what it is given and reneg on its side of the agreement; any good faith squandered would feel like a tit for tat.


    Geopolitically, North Korea's current state of being a US hostile state is valuable to the Chinese. It places a buffer between it and American ground forces and an American ally in South Korea.

    China doesn't want North and South Korea to merge in a way similar to what Germany did. It doesn't want a powerful American ally right on its flank; it already has too many.

    So for the USA to "outbid" China it would require a significant investment, and I doubt it has the diplomatic capitol to pull it off. And until it can, North Korea has little incentive to follow through on any promises it makes for concessions.

    "The next president continued this demonization, failing to live up to the agreed upon trade, and generally wagged the dog for popularity." Oh, and also because of (correct) evidence that North Korea was covertly developing nuclear weapons in obvious violation of the whole point of the agreement.

    @reirab https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agreed_Framework -- NK cited the "axis of evil" speech as one of the reasons the agreement was void; that speech was pure wag the dog, it was a blatant threat by the USA. The USA failed to live upto their side right from the start of the Agreement. NK wanted normailized relations and energy support while dismantling its nulear plants, USA wanted no nukes. USA openly was failing to fully deliver its part of the deal, with delays, underfunding and rhetorical threats; given that inability, why should it expect NK to fully deliver its part of the deal?

    @Yakk NK was not only violating the agreement, but was actively covertly developing nuclear weapons **years** before that speech. That's why the speech happened in the first place.

    @reirab Yes, the agreement was that the US would do X, and NK would do Y. The US failed to do X starting from the get go, failing to deliver promised supplies. Expecting NK to do Y despite US's lack of doing X seems strange.

  • The US has a variety of justifications for having hundreds of thousands of troops and thousands of bases overseas. The US presence in Japan and South Korea, in particular, is contingent on the North Korean threat. If North Korea ceases to be a threat, the US troops stationed in South Korea and Japan will have even less support from local populations then they have now.

    If the US "kisses and makes up" with DPRK, there is no reason for troops or bases to be stationed in South Korea or Japan. As Yakk mentions above, a framework to end the conflict was firmly in place in the late 1990's. It wasn't followed because the widely recognized militancy of the GW Bush administration sought to re-double the US military machine, and needed justification in the absence of the cold war.

    As China is expanding its influence in the region, there's no lack of "reason" for the US to keep their bases with or without NK.

    @Darkwing And why can't the US directly identify China as the real reason to have huge presence in the region? The answer is obvious; the US needs a weak country to bully. China since 1949 has been very difficult to bully. Whether China is a more evil dominant power than the US depends on who you talk to. There are plenty of ROK people who dislike US, and there are plenty who dislike China. Perhaps the ROK prefers the evil it knows to the evil it doesn't know? In any case, when China is strong enough to get the US to back down, that's when China will force DPRK to behave.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM