Sunday, April 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Analysis: NKorea brandishing nukes to get US to talk peace

JEAN H. LEE

SEOUL, South Korea — The way North Korea sees it, only bigger weapons and more threatening provocations will force Washington to come to the table to discuss what Pyongyang says it really wants: peace.

It’s no coincidence that North Korea’s third underground nuclear test — and by all indications so far its most powerful yet — took place Tuesday on the eve of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

As perplexing as the tactic may seem to the outside world, it serves as an attention-getting reminder to the world that North Korea may be poor but has the power to upset regional security and stability.

And the response to its latest provocation was immediate.

“The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community,” Obama said in a statement hours after the test. “The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies.” The United Nations, Japan and South Korea also responded with predictable anger. Even China, North Korea’s staunchest ally, summoned the North Korean ambassador to the Foreign Ministry for a rare dressing down.

All this puts young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his circle of advisers right where they want to be: at the center of controversy and the focus of foreign policy.

A year into his nascent leadership, he is referring to his father’s playbook to try forcing a change on North Korea policy in capital cities across the region — mostly notably in the U.S.

The intent in Pyongyang is to get Washington to treat North Korea like an equal, a fellow nuclear power. The aim of the nuclear and missile tests is not to go to war with the United States — notwithstanding its often belligerent statements — but to force Washington to respect its sovereignty and military clout.

During his 17-year rule, late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il poured scarce resources into Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs to use as bargaining chips in negotiations with Washington, Seoul and Tokyo. At the same time, he sought to build unity at home by pitching North Korea’s defiance as a matter of national pride as well as military defense.

North Korea has long cited the U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula, and what it considers a nuclear umbrella in the region, as the main reason behind its need for nuclear weapons. North Korea and the U.S. fought on opposite sides of the bitter, three-year Korean War. That conflict ended in a truce in 1953, and left the peninsula divided by heavily fortified buffer zone manned by the U.S.-led U.N. Command.

Sixty years after the armistice, North Korea has pushed for a peace treaty with the U.S. But when talks fail, as they have for nearly two decades, the North Koreans turn to speaking with their weapons.

With each missile and nuclear test, experts say North Korea is getting closer to building the arsenal it feels it needs to challenge Washington to change what it considers a “hostile” policy toward the longtime foe.

In 2008, after years of negotiations led by China, North Korea agreed to stop producing plutonium and blew up its main reactor northwest of the capital.

But in 2009, just months after Obama took office for his first term, Pyongyang fired long-range rocket carrying a satellite, earning U.N. condemnation and sanctions that North Korea accused Washington of initiating. In protest, Pyongyang conducted its second nuclear test and revealed it had a second way to make atomic bombs: by enriching uranium.

With nuclear negotiations stalled, North Korea forged ahead making missiles designed to reach U.S. shores and worked toward building a bomb small enough to mount on it — less with an actual attack in mind but to brandish as a warning to the wartime foe.

In carefully choreographed North Korea, timing is everything, and February is proving to be a strategic month for a North Korea provocation.

China and Japan have new, largely untested leaders still in the process of formulating their government policies. A provocation during the last days of Lee Myung-bak presidency in Seoul gives Pyongyang the chance at one last jab at the conservative leader while leaving open the possibility of a new relationship with incoming President Park.

And it’s the start of Obama’s second term; his new secretary of state, John Kerry, took office just weeks ago.

North Korea’s nuclear test is likely to drive a tightening of U.N. sanctions intended to restrict its nuclear and missile programs, but experts say the effectiveness of such steps is largely reliant on the North’s chief trading partner and source of aid, China, implementing the sanctions and using its economic leverage to pressure its ally. China has historically been reluctant to do so.

And while North Korea’s determination to acquire a nuclear deterrent make it increasingly unlikely that it can be persuaded to give up its weapons of mass destruction programs in exchange for aid, most analysts — even those who support tougher international action against Pyongyang — still say diplomacy is ultimately the best hope to check its nuclear ambitions.

“North Korea’s outrageous behavior encourages few voices for dialogue, and we are therefore in for a period of heightened tensions. Yet at the same time, climbing down from these crises with the reclusive regime has only happened historically through a return to diplomacy,” Victor Cha, a former White House director of Asia policy, wrote in a commentary Tuesday. It was posted online by the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank where Cha serves as Korea chair.

The latest nuclear test also serves Kim Jong Un’s domestic purposes.

By showing his people he has the temerity to stand up to the bigger powers encircling the country, including China, the young leader is calculating that he will win support at home, even if it means costing the country much-needed trade and aid. He’s also showing old timers at home who back his father’s “military first” policy that he’s tough on national defense.

He’s also seeking to win the loyalty of the younger generation by characterizing the costly rockets and satellites as scientific advancements meant to build a better future.

Pyongyang is already warning that the nuclear test is just the start of a string of provocations if Washington doesn’t change its policies.

“The U.S., though belatedly, should choose between the two options: To respect the DPRK’s right to satellite launch and open a phase of detente and stability or to keep to its wrong road leading to the explosive situation by persistently pursuing its hostile policy toward the DPRK,” state media quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying.

The risk, he said, could be “a do-or-die battle.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Bay Area makes growth plans

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1

 
Supervisor candidates vary on Plan Bay Area

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Earth Day means cleanup Day for Suisun City

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Hop to it: Couple lights up home, yard for Easter

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1

Ranking the best Bay Area athletes

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
The Edge hosts Easter egg hunt

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3

Alooma Temple keeps children in mind

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield author to speak at women’s expo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

The resurrection has changed the lives of Christians

By Perry W. Polk | From Page: C3

 
Piano scholarship competition set in Vallejo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Understanding your health insurance

By Morgan Westfall | From Page: D4

 
Armijo graduate completes basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: C4

Highway 12 paving to slow traffic east of Rio Vista

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A5

 
Record Store Day a commercial hit

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Easter egg hunt brings out the smiles

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Dutch Bros. joins Fairfield coffee corridor

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B7, 1 Comment | Gallery

City sets plan to dispose of property assets

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B7

 
Fairfield police log: April 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: April 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Counties tell Brown they need money for his law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
San Francisco probe leading to entrapment claims

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Exhibit recreates Warhol’s 1964 World’s Fair mural

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Ohio couple married 70 years die 15 hours apart

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
Documents detail another delayed GM recall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

At barricades, Ukraine insurgents await Easter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Official: 3 bodies retrieved from inside ferry

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13 | Gallery

13th body pulled from snow in Everest avalanche

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Costa Rican a celebrity after certified miracle

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14 | Gallery

.

Opinion

Government … for the government?

By Bill James | From Page: A8

 
Editorial Cartoons for April 20, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Question of the week: Will Flight 370 be found?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Neighborhood speeders don’t get it

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Why would a person do this?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Sound off for April 20, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Jeb Bush, love, and today’s GOP

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A9

Statistical frauds distort equal-pay debate

By Thomas Sowell | From Page: A9

 
Are government ‘carrots’ fair, worthwhile?

By Brian Thiemer | From Page: A9

 
.

Living

Today in History for April 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Bill Nye says he underestimated debate’s impact

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3, 1 Comment

 
Book details lives of cloistered nuns

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Horoscopes for April 20, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: D4

 
Pete spends weekends at my house but he never invites me to his

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: D4

.

Entertainment

Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers has book deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Tartt, Goodwin finalists for Carnegie medals

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

New book on fracking illuminates pros, cons

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

 
.

Sports

A’s score 3 in 9th, rally past Astros 4-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Warriors beat Clippers 109-105 in playoff opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Kings, Sharks look to put Game 1 in past

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Stults, Padres hand Giants third straight loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Hawks take 1-0 lead by rolling past Pacers 101-93

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Raptors GM Ujiri uses profanity about Brooklyn

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Williams scores 24 as Nets beat Raptors 94-87

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Durant leads Thunder past Grizzlies 100-86

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Federer beats injured Djokovic to reach final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Indians set two new school records for track

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

Wie shoots 67, wins LPGA LOTTE Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Travis Bowl Highlights

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

Rapids, Earthquakes play to scoreless tie

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Stars Recreation bowling results

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

Jimenez leads Langer by 1 shot in Greater Gwinnett

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Donald shoots 66, takes lead at RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Big names among prospective Buffalo Bills buyers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Award-winning archery champ shoots with his teeth

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

Survivors keep busy as Boston Marathon approaches

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Business

US delays review of contentious Keystone pipeline

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Why high oil prices are actually good for airlines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Subscription sample boxes shake up beauty routines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Girls from modest families get lift in technology

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

Haunted house part of San Antonio apartment lofts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B13

 
Recalls this week: lanterns, exercise devices

By The Associated Press | From Page: B13

Review: Siri-like Cortana fills Windows phone gap

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
.

Obituaries

Anne Irene Elizabeth Fulgoni

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Margaret Elizabeth Silva

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Lloyd G. Hoffmeister

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Ramon Isidro

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

Rogelio Tinoco-Zamudio

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
James Leroy Barbour

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

William Paul Wehrly

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Sealwyn Shirley Brucefield Shepherd Malkiewicz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics