China: UK need to ‘stand up’ to ‘bullying’ says Lord Patten
Kim celebrated his 37th birthday by submitting a wish-list of new weapons including more accurate long-range nukes, super large warheads, spy satellites and a nuclear-powered submarine. The dictator, who has now been promoted to the highest rank of the Worker’s Party, is struggling to be heard outside his own country amid the current turmoil in the US. But experts say that if President-elect Joe Biden harbours any hopes of preventing Kim’s nuclear ambitions, now is the time to act, after the tyrant dubbed the US his nation’s “biggest enemy”.
Some warn the US and North Korea could become locked in a bitter spat, which would threaten World War 3 once again.
After fears previously grew over a similar situation developing, former senior defence official for Korea policy in the Obama administration Van Jackson revealed how it could unfold.
He said: “As far as I know, nobody is really prepared for a collapse of North Korea.
“At a high level, I seriously doubt there’s been any work done on a collapse scenario in the alliance since [Donald] Trump came to office.
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“Also, the Moon administration is not interested in what it sees as the self-fulfilling prophecy of collapse planning.
“China is better positioned than the rest of us if a succession crisis happened, but even China has few inroads and limited leverage.”
The US and South Korea have their secret Operational Plan (OPLAN) 5029 for carrying out joint military actions in the event of the collapse of the North Korean regime.
The classified mission, headed up by the current commander of United States Forces Korea (USFK), General Robert Bruce Abrams, would ensure that the state’s nuclear missiles were not set off during an internal power struggle, or pilfered for the international black market.
Little is known about the exact details of the covert operation, but it is said to also secure the border.
The existence of OPLAN 5029 was first publicly acknowledged by the US military in 1999, when General John H. Tilelli Jr, then commander of USFK, responded: “It would be unusual if we didn’t have one.”
The Chinese Communist Party retains close ties with its North Korean counterparts and China is the main source of economic and strategic support for the regime.
And American policymakers have long speculated about the likelihood that China, faced with instability in North Korea, could carry out a coup and implant a new leadership.
But others are sceptical about Beijing’s ability or desire to intervene in the internal struggles that may emerge in North Korea.
Veteran Foreign Ministry official Chun Yung-woo believes Beijing would be far more laid-back with the situation.
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He told Asia Times: “They will leave North Koreans to sort out their succession problems and respect whatever the Korean Workers Party decides, despite the widely shared contempt the Chinese may have about the dynastic succession.
“They are more concerned about the massive outflow of refugees from North Korea and will try to fend off refugees.
“They will do what they can to stabilise the situation through humanitarian assistance.
“Politically, however, they will be careful not to side with one faction or another.
“Actually, they have no practical means to influence the outcome of any political struggle in North Korea.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has urged Kim Jong Un to return to talks with Seoul and Washington, as uncertainty builds over how Mr Biden’s incoming administration will handle the North Korean nuclear threat.
Mr Moon, who has staked his presidential legacy on building lasting peace and ultimately achieving unification of the Korean peninsula, has again urged Kim to put their differences aside, saying South Korea would meet North Korea “anytime, anywhere”.
He added: “The key driving force of the peace process on the Korean peninsula is dialogue and win-win co-operation.
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