Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The North Korean Nuclear Dilemma

Kevin Rudd
The North Korean Nuclear Dilemma

An Address to the Swedish Institute of International Affairs
The Honourable Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister of Australia, President of the Asia Society Policy Institute Stockholm, Thursday 31 August 2017

The entire speech is worth reading. This is an excerpt:

Possible Scenarios

So what are the scenarios we face? Broadly and simply, there are three. One, that the United States, as the Chinese would wish, accepts the inevitability of North Korea becoming a full member of the international nuclear weapons club, and that the North develops its own sets of rules, procedures and nuclear doctrine that enables it behave “responsibly” as a nuclear weapons state.

Scenario two is that of the US unilateral military strike to destroy or to retard the North Korean nuclear capability. Scenario three is diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy. The current direction of diplomacy in terms of what is expected of China, North Korea and the United States appears not to be going very far.

But I think there is a broader proposition which is much discussed in the international media, and I’ve certainly sought to promote it myself in pieces I’ve written recently, which goes by the name of the “grand bargain”. The reason why we need a strategic grand bargain is because of the vast array of Chinese deep interests alive in the Korean Peninsula that I referred to earlier in this presentation, as well as core North Korean interests. Not to mention the fundamental interests of most of us in avoiding North Korea becoming a permanent nuclear weapons state in the first place.

So what would such a grand bargain entail?

First, Beijing needs to accept that the threat of a unilateral US strike is credible enough to warrant a change in Chinese diplomacy towards North Korea.

Second, the US would need to be clear with Beijing about what is at stake here for China. And if China succeeds in bringing about a cessation of North Korea’s nuclear program, and the destruction of its existing arsenal, the US would then accept the following:

  • a formal peace treaty following the armistice which has been in operation since 1953
  • formal diplomatic recognition of Pyongyang by the United States
  • external security guarantees for the future of the regime and the North Korean state, provided by the Chinese, the Americans and possibly the Russians
  • for the Chinese then to be able to assist North Korea to continue to reform and develop the North Korean economy; and possibly, and most problematically, a staged program for the eventual withdrawal step-by-step of US forces from South Korea.