N Korean nuclear strike could cause chaos in US

The US has said they will not demand any additional conditions before Trump meets with Kim Jong-un, beyond North Korea not resuming nuclear or missile testing, and not objecting to US military exercises in South Korea.
No additional conditions required for North Korea talks, U.S. officials say
Trump administration officials said Sunday there will be no more conditions imposed on North Korea before a first-ever meeting of the two nations' leaders, beyond the North's promise not to resume nuclear testing and missile flights or publicly criticize U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
These are the terms which South Korea agreed upon with North Korea in their previous meeting, as noted in previous posts.
North Korea opens door to talking about nuclear disarmament, South says | CBC News
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has agreed to meet with South Korea's president next month and impose a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests if his country holds talks with the United States, a senior South Korean official said Tuesday after returning from the North.
Trump announcement on talks with North Korea gets mixed reactions
In what would be a key North Korean concession, Chung, the South Korean official, said Kim understood that "routine" joint military exercises between South Korea and the U.S. must continue.
One senior US official said that the summit would provide an opportunity for Trump to see if he could make a deal with Kim Jong-un.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the summit would give Trump a chance "to sit down and see if he can cut a deal" with Kim over the North's nuclear program. "The president has been very clear in what the objective is here. And that is to get rid of nuclear weapons on the [Korean] peninsula," Mnuchin said.
My own opinion is that any such meeting is unlikely to result directly in an actual deal. More feasible perhaps would be an agreement on the basis on which to start to conduct lengthy talks which could lead to an actual deal.

Some Washington politicians are unhappy about this development, and want to put the brakes on the whole affair.
"But the important thing is the diplomatic work that has to go in before such a meeting. A meeting like that would be kind of an afterthought after things are negotiated. Here it looks as if, you know, that's kind of the opening gambit. And that's a little worrisome," said Republican Sen. Jeff Flake., a frequent Trump critic.
On Saturday Trump said that he expects North Korea will abide by the agreement they made with South Korea to suspend missile tests while the talks take place. Trump noted that North Korea has not made any such tests since November.
Trump said Saturday that he believes North Korea will abide by its pledge to suspend missile tests while he prepares for the summit. He noted in a tweet that North Korea has refrained from such tests since November and said Kim "has promised not to do so through our meetings."

"I believe they will honour that commitment," the president said.

Later, at a political rally in Pennsylvania, when Trump mentioned Kim's name, the crowd booed. But Trump responded: "No, it's very positive … no, after the meeting you may do that, but now we have to be very nice because let's see what happens. Let's see what happens."
I would not be surprised if Trump decided to put a lot of emphasis on this meeting with Kim Jong-un, as it would help to take the spot light off his own domestic political problems.

Behind all of this it should be remembered that these current developments are the result of diplomatic efforts made by the new South Korean government. A success in this area, should it happen, would be a major diplomatic triumph for them and help solidify support in South Korea for pursuing this diplomatic avenue further.
Mattis goes silent on North Korea ahead of Trump-Kim meeting
Mattis keeping quiet on the upcoming meeting between Trump and Tubby III:
Mattis said the situation was simply too sensitive for comment by officials in places such as the Pentagon, which is not directly involved in the diplomatic outreach.

“I do not want to talk about Korea at all. I will leave it to those who are leading the effort,” Mattis told reporters during a flight to Oman.

“Because it’s that delicate, when you get into a position like this. The potential for misunderstanding remains very high or goes higher.”
Any word said could of course be taken out of context:
Mattis did not offer any clarity on his expectations, deferring to the State Department, the White House National Security Staff and Trump himself.

“Right now every word is going to be nuanced and parsed apart across different cultures, at different times of the day, in different context,” he said.

“And right now, I want a very straight line from those actually responsible, not from those of us in a supporting or background role.”
Looks like the joint US/RoK exercises (which aren't against UN Resolutions) will still go ahead:
The U.S.-South Korean exercises are expected to be held in the coming weeks, raising questions about how the Pentagon would portray them.

“I’m sure the White House and the Department of State will be keeping you very well informed,” Mattis said.
Can't see this ending well. There are two possibilities:-

1) Trump smuggles a concealed weapon in to the talks before shooting at anyone with slanty eyes. South Korea breaks off diplomatic relations after Trump kills the South Korean President and his entire cabinet.

2) More realistically, Kim wants something from the west. Most likely aid or a lifting of sanctions. North Korea is reportedly in a bad way. They spent every penny they had on nukes and now the cupboard is bare. This is exacerbated by the fact that sanctions seem to be being enforced this time and they had a drought last summer leading to a poor harvest.

It is claimed that, unlike in previous famines, there isn't even enough food to feed the army. I think that it was here on Arrse that I read about squaddies being taken out into the countryside to forage for food. I suspect that means raid the nearest village and eat anything the peasants haven't eaten first.

The real power behind any dictatorship is the armed forces. If they're starving while the Grand Marshall is eating himself to death, they won't be pleased. I suspect Kim perceives that he is at risk of a military coup.

Hopefully, Trump won't agree to supply Kim with thousands of tons of MREs in return for, well, nothing.
The CBC has an article on the potential benefits of a genuine peace in the Korean Peninsula, should such a thing come to pass. Economic sanctions from China key to potential Kim-Trump breakthrough: Don Pittis

The South Korean stock exchange rose two percent on Friday after US president Trump said he would meet face to face with Kim Jong-un.
South Korea's main stock index shot up nearly two per cent on Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would meet face to face with North Korea's Kim Jong-un.
The benefits of a rise in the stock market are however small when compared to the possibility of reducing the chances of war.
A rise in stocks is paltry compared to cutting the chance of a global nuclear war.

But the reaction of investors represents just a first instalment on an enormous dividend if the two quirky leaders can transform their war of words into steps toward peace.
A specialist in Korean studies at York University (a large university located in Toronto for those not familiar with it) said that if any change in North Korean policy was the result of external pressure, then it was China who played the key role in that.
But there is no denying it is an historic breakthrough, says Janice Kim, a Korean studies specialist at York University's Centre for Asian Research.

"I'm extremely optimistic," she says.

Kim says that while Trump likes to point to the impact of U.S. sanctions, it is the economic and political pressure applied by China that has had the real effect. China has made it very clear it does not want a war on the peninsula.
She said however that the real avenue has been how Chinese pressure has affected North Korea's emerging business class, who had been experiencing prosperity as a result of the increasing "marketization" of North Korea's changing economy.
But rather than being motivated by starvation or dire shortages as might have been the case in the past, North Korea has felt its neighbour's economic squeeze on the country's emerging business class, says the York historian.

"I think this is more of a result of an increasing prosperity or marketization in North Korea," she says. "I think it's not the result of very bad poverty. It's more indicative of a rising middle class."
Other potential beneficiaries of a genuine peace include South Korea's large multinational corporations, who would have easy access to cheap labour in North Korea.
And while the players are far from any such deal, there would be huge benefit to both sides if South Korea's global corporate players had access to the underemployed labour force of the North.

"Everybody speaks the same language, it's a highly educated population, so there are those sorts of benefits [for South Korean businesses]," says Kim.
A Canadian businessman who has decades of experience in Asia and who has visited North Korea said that North Korea is more advanced than the US media gives it credit for. He said that he has visited North Korea together with South Koreans who told him that the North is like South Korea was in the 1970s. The North has the potential to be another of the Asian economic "tigers".
Canadian businessman Ken Courtis, who has spent decades in Asia and visited North Korea as part of Track 2 Diplomacy in 2016, agrees that North Korea is more economically advanced than many U.S. observers give it credit for.

And while both North and South Korea were pounded to rubble in the 1950s in a proxy war that had China and the Soviet Union on one side and countries like the U.S. and Canada on the other, the North may now be at an early stage on the growth curve of other Asian tigers.

"I've been to North Korea with Koreans from the South," says Courtis. "They say it's like [South] Korea in the '70s."
He also said that this possible meeting between Kim and Trump has been long in the making. There has been a lot of background work done by the Chinese, Russians, South Koreans, Swiss, and Americans. He has heard rumours that the meeting could be held in Vladivostok.
While the announcement of a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un seemed to come out of nowhere, and while some U.S. military hawks may not be pleased, Courtis insists it was long in planning.

"There's not a lot of people who understand there's been a huge amount of background work by the Chinese, the Russians, the South Koreans, the Swiss and also the Americans," says Courtis. He says he has heard rumours the meeting could happen in Vladivostok, Russia, since Kim won't fly and refuses to enter China.
The North Korea leadership will want to ensure that any change in North Korea happens gradually. They don't want to be cast aside as East Germany's political leaders were.
Both the historian and the businessman mused about the eventual merger of the two Koreas. Certainly, in the German example Communist East and capitalist West united faster than anyone had expected.

Koreans who support that idea imagine a country that is a nuclear power with a population bigger than France, says Courtis.

Other countries in the region might not be so pleased with the idea. Nor would the North Korean leadership be thrilled by the German example that effectively saw East Germany's government swept away.
If peace leads too quickly to liberalisation in the North, then North Korea would be vulnerable to an internal revolution. The leadership there would prefer gradual change as happened in China, where the political system survived change intact.
But York's Janice Kim says there is a lot at stake for the North as well, if peace leads to liberalization that happens too quickly.

"That would actually make, of course, North Korea more vulnerable to an internal revolution."

Instead, she says, the North's leadership wants to play a careful game where any change is gradual, "opening like China did with its political system intact."
All of this of course is speculation, as there has been no meeting yet, let alone any sort of agreement leading to peace.
Of course that is putting the cart before the horse, since all that's been agreed to so far is a meeting, and all sides say any negotiations that come as a result would be protracted.
The trial in Malaysia of the women accused of assassinating Kim Jong Nam is proceeding. Court hears of prank with harmless substance before Kim killing at Malaysia airport

Their defence lawyers are laying out their claim that they thought they were involved in a reality TV show, and did not know they were handling poison.
Defence lawyers say the women thought they were part of a prank reality show and did not know they were handling poison.
The defence played videos showing the accused acting in similar films.
Hisyam Teh, Huong's lawyer, screened a closed-circuit television video recorded at Hanoi's international airport on Feb. 2, 2017, which showed her approaching a man from behind and putting her arms around his neck.

The man was a Vietnamese government official named Trinh Ngoc Linh, Teh told the court.

(...) Teh also screened two videos showing Huong acting as the victim of pranks played by a Vietnamese filmmaker, Nguyen Manh Quang.

Quang, in an affidavit submitted to the court, said he had hired Huong to act in the videos, recorded in 2016.

"These videos explain why the accused identified herself as an actress," Teh said, citing Huong's statement to police.
One of the women returned to the airport two days later to carry out another "prank", but there was no sign of the "film maker" and she was detained while at the airport.
The court heard that Huong was told by Mr. Y that the video on Feb. 13 would be important because it would be uploaded on YouTube. She told police she wasn't able to contact Mr. Y after that. She returned to the airport two days later to carry out another prank but there was no sign of Mr. Y and she was detained at the airport.

"Mr. Y is a liar. He used me to do video," she said.

Before the killing, Huong said, she played several pranks in Malaysia and Vietnam.

These often involved her approaching unsuspecting men and putting her hands on their faces or kissing them on the cheek. She would then apologize before running away, she said.
One of the women said she did not know that the victim had died until she was told by the police.
Ri told her a new actress and actor would join them for the airport prank. He described the actor as a fat and bald man with a "black bag and jacket", matching Kim's description on the day of his death.

"I didn't know that the actor already died until Feb. 16, 2017, when the police told me," Huong said.
Malaysian officials have not accused North Korea of being behind the plot.
Malaysian officials have never officially accused North Korea of involvement in Kim's death and have made it clear they don't want the trial politicized.
If the women were indeed tricked into killing Kim Jong Nam, this was a very elaborate plot. It is likely that the prosecution will, if they have not already done so, claim that the previous filmed "pranks" were rehearsals for the actual assassination.
The US and South Korea will resume military exercises in South Korea on the 1st of April, but on a reduced scale. U.S., South Korea to resume joint military exercises
Annual U.S.-South Korean military drills that infuriate North Korea will begin on April 1, the allies said Tuesday, but they will likely be more low-key than past years ahead of two highly anticipated summits among the countries' leaders.
Before Trump meets with Kim Jong-un, Kim and South Korean president Moon will meet in late April.
Before the planned talks with the Americans, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are to meet separately in late April.
South Korea said they would send a 160 member artistic group to North Korea at the beginning of April, including a number of well known pop musicians.
South Korea said Tuesday it will send a 160-member artistic group to North Korea, including about 10 celebrated K-Pop singers, for rare concerts there.

The South Korean musical artists will visit Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, from March 31 to April 3 and give two performances, according to a joint statement issued after the two Koreas met at a border village.

South Korea last sent a pop singer to North Korea in 2005, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry.
The US and South Korea will resume military exercises in South Korea on the 1st of April, but on a reduced scale. U.S., South Korea to resume joint military exercises

Before Trump meets with Kim Jong-un, Kim and South Korean president Moon will meet in late April.

South Korea said they would send a 160 member artistic group to North Korea at the beginning of April, including a number of well known pop musicians.
They know it pisses him off that's why they do it.
That's also why he's keeping his nukes.

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