The warning comes from Harry Kazianis, senior Director in Korean Studies, Center for the National Interest, who told France24 he believes Donald Trump needs to change its approach to North Korea and give up on his plans to denuclearise Kim Jong-un’s rogue regime. He claimed the North Korean dictator could by now have developed an ICBM that could reach the United States and 20 to 25 nuclear weapons.
He said: “I used to be one of those in the John Bolton camp who used to be very hard-lined, thought that denuclearisation had to come first.
“But look, the bottom line is that North Korea is a nuclear weapons state.
“They may have as many as 20 to 25 nuclear weapons, they’re close to have an ICBM that could hit the United States.
“We have to deal with those realities as they are even though we don’t like them.
“The way out of this trap is I think the United States has to change its approach. The only way that you’re going to try to get the North Koreans to give up some sliver of the nuclear programme is you have to be able to give some things.”
He claimed that to gain North Korea’s trust, the US has to attempt to “end the Korean war, you’re going to have to open liaison offices.”
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It comes as North Korea is reinstalling loudspeakers blaring propaganda across the border in its latest step away from inter-Korean peace agreements, prompting the South’s military to explore similar moves, a South Korean military source said on Tuesday.
Tensions between the two Koreas has risen in recent weeks after the North blew up a joint liaison office on its side of the border, declared an end to dialogue and threatened military action.
North Korea’s military was seen putting up loudspeakers near the demilitarised zone (DMZ). Such systems were taken down after the two Koreas signed an accord in 2018 to cease “all hostile acts,” the military official said.
“We’re also considering reinstalling our own loudspeakers,” he said. “But the North hasn’t begun any broadcast yet, and we’re just getting ready to be able to counteract at any time.”
A spokeswoman at Seoul’s defence ministry declined to confirm North Korea’s moves but reiterated at a regular briefing that Pyongyang would “have to pay for the consequences” if it continues to defy joint efforts to foster peace.
The two countries have for decades pumped out propaganda from huge banks of speakers as a form of psychological warfare.
The South aired a blend of news, Korean pop songs and criticism of the northern regime, while the North blasted the South and praised its own socialist system.
Commercial satellite imagery of the liaison office site on Monday showed that the building remained standing, but had been heavily damaged.
Analysts at US-based 38 North, which tracks North Korea, said last week that the explosion “was clearly not a controlled detonation, as the building was not levelled and there was significant collateral damage to the adjacent buildings.”
The North began taking its recent actions as it denounced North Korean defectors in the South sending propaganda leaflets across the border.
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Several defector-led groups have regularly sent flyers, food, $1 bills, mini radios and USB sticks containing South Korean dramas and news, usually by balloon or in bottles in rivers.
One group, led by Park Sang-hak, who fled the isolated state in 2000, said on Tuesday it flew 20 balloons containing 500,000 leaflets, 500 booklets on South Korea and 2,000 $1 bills.
South Korea’s government has pursued legal action to stop such activities, citing safety concerns for residents in border towns, but controversy remains over whether it violates the country’s protections for freedom of expression.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry handling inter-Korean affairs issued a statement vowing a stern response to the leaflet launches by Park’s group.
Pyongyang’s state media said on Monday angry North Koreans have also prepared some 12 million leaflets to be sent back.