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Cowboys vs. Juche
The stakes on the Korean peninsula are raised as much as possible, the situation in the world is tense, what to do - argues George Toloraya
Photo: collage rt.com
Director of the Center for Asian Strategy of Russia at the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, executive director of the National Committee for the Study of BRICS, diplomat and orientalist, Georgy Toloraya, one of the most authoritative experts on the Korean peninsula, told EastRussia on the WEF fields about what the problems on the Korean peninsula could turn out for the region.
DOLETITE - DO NOT SHARE? - Georgy Davidovich, Governor of Primorye Miklushevsky was asked the following question at a press conference - is the region somehow preparing for a possible emergency in case the problem on the Korean Peninsula suddenly flares up? He replied that, literally,prepare, but in closed mode, what even more frightened journalists.What can you say,How are things?
- Well, in every state, and even more so in the Russian Federation, there are plans for civil defense, emergency situations, they are periodically updated, re-affirmed, training passes, a lot of people are engaged in this business. Therefore, I have no doubt that in Primorye, of course, there are corresponding structures, appropriate plans for training and retraining in the event of emergencies of all kinds, from the earthquake to the war in Korea.
The likelihood that the situation will worsen is higher than it was before. But, I think, not much higher than earthquakes. Because a war may, of course, arise in Korea, but rather by chance, this is unlikely to be a deliberate, planned action (although the population of South Korea is slowly beginning to prepare for the possibility of a conflict - the other day I saw an article by one general that, they say, an artillery strike against Seoul is not as scary as it seems ...). In my opinion, now the parties are simply filling their own worth, bluffing in order to maximally scare not only each other, but also the world around them. The Americans scare the Chinese, and the North Koreans scare the Americans and Japanese. This is the situation.
- So that war does not happen through negligence, as far as is enough the competence of the North Korean side so that this does not really happen ... How competent are those people who are near the "button" in the DPRK?
- Well, in any case, they are much more competent than President Trump, I can say that for sure. They work in this area, as they say, for many decades, and people are not accidental. In general, North Koreans do not have random people in leadership structures, they have been trained for many years and even generations, and they are not suicidal at all. So for North Koreans, I worry less.
But all kinds of accidents and provocations are possible. Now, let's say, there are exercises in South Korea. Well, by chance an American plane will fly into the territory, violate the airspace, even if not on purpose ... And the northerners, of course, will shoot it down according to the procedure. The Americans will regard it as an aggression, and that has begun. And such things, unfortunately, are possible.
Or, let's say, another option - the Americans will not strike at North Korean facilities, but they will try to shoot down another rocket. They say it will not be an act of war against North Korea, but an act of self-defense, because suddenly this rocket flies to Guam and carries a nuclear warhead. But there are many dangers here: what if they miss it, then all the measures to develop the missile defense system will be compromised ...
- And what, they can miss? So much has been invested in this "umbrella" ...
- Well, you know, I'm not an expert on rocket technology. But the success rate is somewhere from 30 to 50%, and someone says that even less. That is, when people know what and where flies and at what time, they, in general, usually knock down. And when the rocket is not then and not there, and not on the same trajectory, it seems, it’s not very much what happens.
But the question is not even that. Assume, shot down. How will the North Koreans react? North Koreans in response can also knock something down, or sink some American ship that runs around in the nearby waters.
- That is, everything is possible because of provocations and misunderstandings, right?
"Probably a provocation." And, perhaps, not only. You see, this level of rhetoric is unhealthy now, all nerves are tense. Political leaders understand that it is impossible to fight, and it is not worth trying. But the personnel is pumped up in a psychologically appropriate manner, which should shoot at all during the first movement of the enemy. And then, when there are so many weapons, so many tense people on both sides, then all sorts of things are possible, all kinds of unexpected things. Therefore, of course, in Primorye it is necessary to be ready just in case.
"And the threat of a blow to Guam, is it real?" Can the DPRK become the instigator of the conflict?
"You see, for decades North Korea has been the object of a real information war. I do not justify their regime, there is nothing particularly good about it, but to accuse them of aggression, in general, is not very fair. North Korea now has no reason to attack anyone, and for all the years, at least after the collapse of the Soviet Union, they were concerned only with how to survive and, as it were, to prevent aggression against themselves .
There were no reasons for North Korea to attack, because it would inevitably entail a retaliatory strike, which would be guaranteed to destroy the North Korean state. And to accuse North Korea of aggressiveness was still rather strange, it is nothing more than a substitution, a fraud in the spirit of psychological warfare.
Here are Jabhat al-Nusra * or ISIS *, which are forbidden in our country - aggressive formations. And North Korea does not need to attack anyone, it is not going to build a world Juche Caliphate, and even Korea has not been going to unite until now.
- You talk about this in the past tense. Something has changed?
- I will make a reservation: at the moment I am somewhat more afraid that getting North Korea the status of a thermonuclear power, that is, a country that can strike a second blow, a retaliatory strike against the United States, can lead it to any adventures. Theoretically, the situation may be such that North Korea decides that if it attacks the South, the Americans are afraid to intervene, fearing a retaliatory strike against Los Angeles or Seattle. And they will limit themselves to sending weapons, declarations, blockades, etc. And in this case, perhaps, the North Koreans are counting on the South Koreans to win. There is such a danger now.
Such a scenario has become at least theoretically possible today. Until now, it has not been possible.
- Public rhetoric of the DPRK, video with a missile attacking the US - confirmation of this theory?
- The threat to strike at Guam is, in general, a show of strength. Note that whenever and wherever the North Koreans declare their ability, intention or readiness to strike, turn into a sea of fire, exterminate and turn into radioactive ash, they always write "if" separated by commas. "If the Americans dare," or "if the South Korean puppets," or, the last example, "if the Americans stick their stinking face on the Korean Peninsula." The truth is that this "if" often falls out of the public field of Western media. And the second half of the phrase remains, that the North Koreans are going to strike at Guam.
By the way, they were going to strike not at Guam, but in neutral waters around Guam, in order to prove that they have missiles that can reach there, so that there is no doubt about their strength and technological readiness. But then, apparently, they decided that after all it was already too much and so far they are abstaining. Well, in general, in fact, it is possible that they also have a fear - what if the rocket does not reach. Therefore, this threat remained a concussion. Instead, they launched a missile in an easterly direction, it really flew to the right place, but this, I repeat, is a demonstration of force, not preparation for an attack.
STATUS OF THE NUCLEAR POWER OF THE DPRK WILL NOT RECEIVE - And hereif we abstract, what do you think: here they are de facto - a nuclear country. Can they receive this status de jure? Why is Pakistan allowed and not allowed?
- Look, we will distinguish very clearly between the concepts of fact and legal. Legally, there is a non-proliferation regime based on a relevant international treaty. Nonproliferation Treaty
(NPT), in general, an unequal deal, roughly speaking, in some simplistic form, the blackmail of the whole world by the five nuclear powers. USA, then the USSR, and after them, Britain, France and China created nuclear weapons. Together they conspired and announced: "So, so we can, but no one else can."
"Well, that's not very fair."
"Well, that's the kind of agreement that we can do, and we promise to disarm someday, but other countries should not try to create nuclear weapons, and in return we support world security." South Koreans tried in the 70-ies to create nuclear weapons. The Americans tightened them. Both Brazil and South Africa also tried to create, but in one way or another, these initiatives were not received. Israel has created, but does not tell anyone. There are no complaints about it, because everyone knows that there is a weapon, although they themselves do not confirm or deny it. But Pakistan and India have never been members of the Treaty, they initially did not agree with such a statement of the issue.
"I did not know that,this is an important point.
- This is a very important point, yes. Pakistan and India did not enter into the Non-Proliferation Treaty because they believed it was unfair. Therefore, by creating nuclear weapons, they did not thereby violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, the nuclear powers, according to this Treaty, are only those that initially participated in it. Therefore, legally, neither Pakistan nor India are recognized as nuclear powers. This is a kind of legal casuistry, but it allows us to preserve this “fig leaf of nonproliferation”.
North Korea, unlike them, entered into the Treaty, and then withdrew. This is a completely unique situation for the world practice, although legally it is stipulated by the agreement. Thus, Article 10-I provides that a participating country "has the right to withdraw from the Treaty if it decides that the
the content of this Treaty, exceptional circumstances jeopardized the supreme interests of his country. " Is it possible to qualify the pretexts that the North Koreans used as a threat to the highest national interests? In principle, yes, after the collapse of the USSR, the United States and South Korea openly declared that we “will destroy this country.” So, in general, formally, they had a reason to withdraw from the treaty and then create nuclear weapons.
Therefore, answering your question, in any case it can not be recognized as a legally nuclear power of the DPRK. If it is legally recognized as a nuclear power, then tomorrow, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, or even Tajikistan, will come out of the treaty, and so on, and all will build nuclear weapons based on precedent.
"So they will now be in the same status as Pakistan and India?"
- They would like that, of course. But unlike Pakistan and India, they were in the treaty and withdrew from it. And this moment is very critical for the preservation of the non-proliferation regime itself. That is why, under no circumstances, within the framework of the current non-proliferation system, the DPRK cannot be recognized as a nuclear power, unlike India and Pakistan, which, well, gritting their teeth and reluctantly, are recognized as de facto possessors of nuclear weapons.
Therefore, the situation is not easy, because the acquisition of nuclear weapons by North Korea undermines all the foundations of international law, and, in general, is very inconvenient for the big powers. Not even because they threaten someone, on the contrary, I believe that the presence of nuclear weapons until now, in fact, served as a guarantee of maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula. But because the country's acquisition of a nuclear potential contrary to international law undermines all the foundations of the modern security structure.
COWBOY RULES - Tell me, does it existsome kind of model in which it would be possible to peacefully disperse and remove this colossal tension? How could this happen?
- You see, in a conflict there are two ways of resolving - either to fight until the enemy is destroyed, or to negotiate at least somehow. Here, in general, it is not necessary to choose the path of a military conflict, since the Americans (sane, in any case) understand that the cost of the issue is enormous, and the only question is that it is necessary to destroy the North Korean nuclear missile potential and protect the regime non-proliferation. Which, in general, is also important, of course, but not at the cost of the death of millions and undermining the entire system of world
relations and the world economy.
But, on the other hand, the perception of the North Korean nuclear potential by the Americans is rather psychological. Previously, there were only two countries that could strike a nuclear strike against the US - Russia and China. England and France do not take, they do not need it. And then suddenly some ugly bug appeared, with a disgusting regime, which, moreover, the Americans could not win in the 50-s in the war. And this "heifer of hell" finds a real opportunity to strike the Americans.
A friend of mine compared Trump's behavior to the scene from a horror movie, when a person wakes up at night, the light lights and looks - a huge tarantula crawls across the sheet. Here he jumps up, starts throwing shoes to do something with this tarantula. That's about the same way now Americans are behaving. That is, this psychological nervous breakdown: "How so? How could we suddenly admit that some kind of purulent pimple suddenly arose and threatens us? "
"Is that why they are not ready for direct contacts?"
- Yes. The Americans have a psychology that if you threaten me, then you can realize the threat. So - I must destroy you preemptively. They have cowboy psychology. When there is a revolver in a good guy, that's fine. But if a bad guy gets a revolver, he must immediately be shot. But here's a quote - in this situation, you can not shoot a "bad guy". And to agree - not on concepts. And it lasts for 25 years.
- And whatThe US wants from China in this regard? And can China in fact influence the development of the situation?
- Well, you know, this is also a delusion, you can not perceive the world as a world of dominant countries and customers. It is a mistake to think that China will turn off the light there, pull out the plug from the outlet, and North Korea will die out immediately. This is not true. China is not in a position to do it, it is, first. Secondly, China needs a much less conflict and some kind of chaos at its border.
- But, after all, China is the main economic partner of the DPRK, is this true?
- Of course, North Koreans are easier to buy from China: historical ties, convenient transport links. But China will be closed - they will look elsewhere, and somehow they will survive anyway. You see, this is a mistaken logic that China can force its will to change the behavior of Koreans.
Our president correctly said that the North Koreans will eat the grass, but they will not give up the nuclear program. I also said this many times: let them announce the blockade, they will block everything, they will hang the border with wire. The country will have a famine, a humanitarian catastrophe, millions of people will die. But Kim Jong-ne will still remain with his atomic bomb. And he will never say: "You know what, take it away from me, just give me something to eat." No.
- Tell me, what concessions should the United States make in order for the dialogue to take place and the situation to normalize?
- It is clear that first of all the Americans and North Koreans should agree. That is, the Americans must commit themselves not to attack Korea, not to stifle it with sanctions. Probably, the North Koreans will want, in addition, some kind of economic aid and assistance. And the recognition of the regime. And in response, the DPRK must commit itself to renouncing nuclear weapons, not immediately, in some future. And also not to attack South Korea and behave decently.
- Well, this is some kind of fantastic option. Hand over weapons - they arethey will not want to promise such a thing even in the future.
- No, why, they still promise. After all, their leader, the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung bequeathed nuclear disarmament. In fact, the nonproliferation treaty contains a clause stating that the nuclear powers are following the path of nuclear disarmament. This is a treaty commitment from the nuclear powers in exchange for the fact that other countries do not develop nuclear weapons. Well, the North Koreans say: “Yes, we will disarm. When everyone else disarms, and we will, of course, do it. "
- Then what exactly should be demanded of them.
- Now the main thing is to stop the process of improving nuclear potential, because it already acquires new qualities and new opportunities. If negotiations begin, the North Koreans will actually declare a moratorium on testing and development. Of course, this is difficult to verify, but in any case there will be some situation more calm. And negotiations can last at least 20 years, at least longer ...
- The main thing to jointhis negotiation process?
- Yes. If at that moment they do not improve nuclear weapons, and the opposite side does not carry out military provocations and hostile actions against them, such as isolation and sanctions, let the negotiations last as long as they please. The main thing is that the world should be, and, you see, there will be some mutual points of contact there.
But, here I want to say the last thing, that there is no other way, except for agreements between the United States, the DPRK, and after that - between North and South Korea. But these agreements will be fragile if they are not guaranteed somehow. But the United States has abandoned its obligations so many times when it was convenient for them (the latest example is the fuss over the nuclear deal with Iran). And to guarantee by UN resolutions, in general, is not a very reliable matter. If anyone can give guarantees, it will be the surrounding great powers, that is, Russia and China. I had an expert proposal that this should be a six-party format, within the framework of which each country concludes a legally binding agreement with all five others - what can be done, what cannot.
"Six parties is ..."
- Two Koreas, Japan, China, USA and Russia. Russia concludes a legally binding treaty with the United States that the United States does not attack North Korea, and Russia does not help it with weapons, does not enter into conflicts, etc. And so everyone with everyone. Such cross-negotiations, that is, five of each country, a total of 30 agreements. This is how a legal structure could take place that would ensure security. Moreover, the power of law would be supported by the law of power. I cannot say that this is a completely solid structure, but, in any case, it will be possible to retreat from the current dangerous line, and most importantly, to give North Korea an opportunity to develop. They want to develop, their economy is already almost illegally market. And if the threat to the country's external security is removed, they will have the opportunity to work, develop and receive some kind of investment and follow the path of progress. And it will inevitably change society, it will change the perception of the world, and with the change of generations, perhaps they will say that "we do not need nuclear weapons now."
However, this is just my idea. There may be other options. The main thing is that the basic situation is that without multilateral guarantees, US and North Korean bilateral guarantees will not work.
"Is Trump going to negotiate?"
- Well, Trump is a completely unpredictable person. But, perhaps, he has some kind of practical vein, after all, somehow he made a billion. I hope (less and less, though) that, at some point, having figured out the whole situation that it is impossible to intimidate the North Koreans, he will change his tactics. Yes, it was Trump who raised the maximum risk rates. But the North Koreans have also raised risk stakes. Well, okay, okay, now let's come to an agreement. I very much hope that this will happen. If it happens, then probably in the coming months.
* Terrorist groupings whose activities are prohibited on the territory of the Russian Federation