ARE RELATIONS BETWEEN NORTH KOREA AND USA BREAKING DOWN AGAIN?

ARE RELATIONS BETWEEN NORTH KOREA AND USA BREAKING DOWN AGAIN?

It was almost two months ago that President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un met at a historic denuclearization summit.  As hopeful as everyone was about their talks, it does appear that North Korea and USA relations are not what we may think.  Since the meeting, the Trump Administration officials presented an official timeline to North Korea, instructing its leadership to give up “60 to 70 percent of its nuclear warheads within six to eight months,“ according to an exclusive Vox report on Wednesday.

THE PROPOSAL

The timeline requires North Korea hand over the nuclear weapons to the U.S. or a third party country, who will remove them permanently from North Korea’s possession.  Details have not been provided as to what the U.S. would offer North Korea in exchange.

Sources said to be close to the denuclearization discussions noted that plans were presented to North Korean officials several times within the past two months.  However, North Korean officials rejected it each time.  This repeated rejection may be an indication of strained relations between the two nations, and a lack of progress.

THE CATCH

If North Korean missiles were launched, we would not know about them until about twenty to thirty minutes prior to landing.

Since the U.S. is actually unsure exactly how many nuclear weapons North Korea possesses, it would make it impossible to verify whether or not North Korea actually hands over 60-70 percent of their arsenal — if they eventually agree to the proposal.

North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party told officials that North Korea will not give up its nuclear arsenal, which it deems a “precious legacy,” according to a Radio Free Asia report in July. The party’s Central Committee met in July to discuss the issue. The last speaker who ended the six-hour-long meeting emphasized that nuclear power is a precious legacy and if there is no nuclear power there is death.

Western intelligence agencies have observed the increased production of nuclear weapons fuel at North Korean facilities which suggests North Korea does not intend giving up its nuclear weapons any time soon.

National Security Adviser John Bolton said Tuesday that North Korea had “notaken steps to de nuclearize 

Former State Department official Michael Fuchs said the U.S. proposal “makes a lot of sense for both sides,” calling it “a very clear, upfront down payment.”

“I can imagine a world where the North Koreans agreed to do this,” he said, adding that they would need something substantial in exchange for the action.

Reports seem to suggest that North Korea has been resistant in the negotiations. After talks with U.S. representatives last month, a North Korean official called demands made by the U.S. gangster-like” and “regrettable.”

However, the Trump administration maintains that the two nations are making good progress with productive negotiations.

Satellite imagery did reveal last month that a North Korean missile site was undergoing dismantlement, and the country also returned 55 remains presumed to be U.S. troops lost in the Korean War. These steps may indicate some degree of good faith and compromise with U.S. demands.

A second meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un is rumored to take place later this year. Given the lack of a denuclearization timeline thus far, it is possible Trump may add pressure face-to-face with Kim.

WHAT DOES THIS MEANS FOR US?

This picture illustrates likely fight paths of North Korean missiles

Canada is located in the flight path of nuclear warheads directed at targets in the United States.  The danger of one of these weapons “falling short” or not making their destination for any other reason leaves Canadians at risk.

Canada currently has no means of defending against an incoming intercontinental ballistic missile, and no formal guarantee that the United States would use its missile defenses on Canada’s behalf.  In fact, Canada declined to work with the United States on its missile defense program in 2005 and has not reversed course under subsequent Liberal and Conservative governments.  With North Korea now claiming it can strike a target anywhere in the continental U.S., Canada is technically defenseless against such an attack.

In other words, Canadian military personnel at NORAD might be able to spot an incoming missile, but the decision to try and shoot that missile down rests entirely with the Americans. NORAD’s Canadian deputy commander, Lt.-Gen Pierre St-Amand, echoed that sentiment in September 2017, saying that under the current policy the U.S. would not come to Canada’s defense.

Most “experts” agree that Canada is probably not a target.  But missiles destined for Chicago, for example, could end up in Toronto.  Then again,  perhaps North Korea can decide to hit United States’ “weaker neighbor” just to demonstrate their power and how close the can really get…

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