Facing US Republican Party Accusations of Being Slave State, Will North Korea Continue its Provocations?

On July 18, the U.S. Republican Party publicly announced its new platform calling North Korea a slave state of the Kim Jong Un family and made it clear that it will apply strong pressure on North Korea if [the family] takes the presidency. The North Korea policy coming out of the Republican National Convention (the process that confirms the Republican candidate for the presidential election in November) homed in on human rights and nuclear issues that drive North Korea into a corner. The party confirmed a demand for the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Particularly, the party emphasized the need to convince China that regime change of the Kim government is inevitable. Although Republican candidate Donald Trump made conciliatory remarks and called for dialogue with Kim Jong Un, the party platform reveals a strong intent to now suffocate North Korea.

A draft of the U.S. Democratic Party platform called North Korea the most repressive state in the world, governed by a sadistic dictator, and vowed to maintain the pressure applied by Barack Obama’s administration. The party said it would do its utmost to inhibit continued provocations from North Korea, particularly the development of mounting nuclear warheads on long-range missiles capable of striking the U.S. mainland. There is little difference between the two major parties’ platforms regarding North Korea. Both name the Kim Jong Un dictatorship as a violator of human rights and both call for strong pressure on North Korea to force it to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.

However, North Korea is unfazed by pressures from the international community and has not ceased its provocations. On July 8, South Korea and the United States announced their decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system on the Korean peninsula. On July 9, North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile and on July 19, it fired three ballistic missiles to show its intent to fight fire with fire. By firing a distance of 500 km (about 311 miles), North Korea showed its ability to target and strike the Seongju battery in North Gyeongsang Province, host site for the THAAD system next year. Repeated provocations will only harden sanctions by the international community. North Korea’s Nuclear-Economic Parallel Development policy is difficult to accept. Like past agreements from the Six-Party Talks,* there has to be a willingness for denuclearization, including at least a freeze on nuclear development. North Korea must understand that only a change in attitude presents a way forward.

*Editor’s note: The Six-Party Talks are a series of multilateral negotiations held intermittently since 2003 and attended by China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States for the purpose of dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program.

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