From April: South Korea considers its nuclear options. From last week: South Korea says it will flatten Pyongyang if North Korea moves toward using nukes. The point of threatening Pyongyang is to threaten Kim Jong Un directly. The downside is that it could motivate North Korea toward building a doomsday machine. The reality is that any war on the Korean Peninsula would be extremely damaging to both sides.
In last week’s announcement of the Russian-American agreement on Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry also told us something new about North Korea. I’m going to quote the whole thing.
Now with respect to North Korea, we have made overtures after overture to the dictator of North Korea. We have made it very clear to him that we’re prepared to talk about peace, about peace on the peninsula, about food assistance, about normal relationship with the world, about a nonaggression pact – I mean a host of different ingredients – if he will simply acknowledge he is prepared to come to the table and talk about denuclearization and his responsibilities to the world – not to us, to the whole world.
He has refused to do that again and again. And yes indeed the last round of sanctions was the most biting sanctions to date. But as you recall, it took a number of years and a fair number of ratcheting up of sanctions to bring Iran to the table. Ultimately Iran came to the table and negotiated because they realized it was the responsible thing to do. And our hope is that ultimately we can get back to the talks. We’re prepared to go back right away. All Kim Jong-un has to do is say, “I’m prepared to talk about denuclearization.” But unfortunately he takes the exact opposite tack, recommits to his program, and against all United Nations Security Council resolutions, continues to explode, continues to shoot missiles, and continues to threaten and be provocative in the region. Which is why every country in the region, every neighbor of his in the region and outside of the region – near neighbors – are opposed to what he is doing. He stands alone and he invites even greater isolation.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov backed talks.
We are for – well, as – in the similar situation as in – on the nuclear program of Iran and chemical demilitarization of Syria, there have been very creative approaches used by all the participants, including the U.S. and Russia. And I am convinced that here in the North Korea, besides the bat and – there is – and the stick, there is the opportunity to have a creative understanding of the situation and development of approaches that would allow to defuse tensions in the Korean Peninsula and in the Northeastern Asia as such.
We are working on that and we believe that the Six-Party Talks – it is too early to bury the Six-Party Talks. We should look for ways that would allow us to resume them. Thank you.
North Korea is asking for flood aid. There are also indications that they may be preparing for another nuclear test. The two things together might be a move toward negotiations. “We’ll back off from the next test if you’ll send food.” It’s not the most persuasive approach, but it’s what North Korea does. There have been many false starts in the past, so don’t expect much.
Joel Wit – The United States needs to recognize that it, not China, is the main player in negotiations with North Korea.
Elections for the Russian Duma will be later this month. Here’s a guide.
Why Kremlinology alone won’t give insight on Russia. Paul Goble, a retired State Department official, publishes a very good blog that covers Russia outside Moscow. I read that blog every day, but don’t often link it because I think that Paul tends to put a stronger slant on the desire for a freer Russia than is there. But he picks up and gives the gist of Russian-language articles I would never otherwise see.
Three of the presidential candidates answer questions on science. Gary Johnson hasn’t responded yet.
I can’t figure out if Elizabeth Holmes, the CEO of Theranos, misled herself or if she has been deliberately lying. Probably some of each at different times. The company seems to be going down the drain, but she isn’t really addressing the issues.
Yet more links, added later: