North Korea Said Something Last Night

I would love to give you a deep dive into all the possible meanings of last night’s statement from the official news organization of the North Korean government. But I don’t think I have time. Let me see how the morning goes.

There is some great commentary on Twitter. The short version is that North Korean statements are hard to figure out, and some aspects of this statement have been made before and then ignored by the North Korean leadership. North Korea is playing a complex game in courting South Korea and trying to split them from the US, setting themselves up to look like the good guys when John Bolton starts the war drums, and generally flummoxing Donald Trump before the summit. Kim is a sharp player.

Here is the meat of the statement:

And here are some of the people whose accounts you might want to look into for more (including Martyn Williams, above):

Wellerstein’s tweet is the start of a very thoughtful thread.

Some folks I don’t always agree with, but this is a good thread:

I also did a thread last night. I’ll put it in narrative form:

Kim Jong Un has taken Donald Trump’s measure. Give Trump something that looks to him like a success. This is not hard, because Trump has no concept of what is required for a nuclear agreement. Trump will believe that his bluster and manliness, VP Pence’s stare of resolve, have done their job: Kim is giving up.

Kim’s concessions are minimal and could be reversed at any time. North Korea has offered the equivalent and walked away in the past. Trump doesn’t know that. So Trump will be overconfident in preparing for the summit. He will be less prepared on details and more prepared to make concessions.

Trump may come back with something that superficially looks attractive. Voters who aren’t following the details will be impressed. Kim then reneges, and Trump blames someone else, maybe Obama. Trump is re-elected in 2020.

It’s good that Trump is using diplomacy rather than the military. But I doubt that he has the smarts or the staff to deal with a summit.

Update: This is a good summary, although I think it starts out too optimistically.



88 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    There is some great commentary on Twitter. 

    I find this hard to believe.

  2. 2
    Another Scott says:

    Thanks for this. I’ll repeat my comment from downstairs:

    April 21, 2018 at 8:27 am

    On the news, I’m not really surprised that Kim is saying that he’ll stop testing nuclear weapons (and stop missile tests), saying that they’ve done all the testing they need. I was wondering what he was going to do after (not-fully-collaborated) reports of tunnel collapse and other damage, and hundreds of deaths, at the main DPRK test site. IOW, he’s smart to try to take maximum political advantage of his (potential) inability to perform nuclear tests now (at least not without heroic efforts at the test site).

    I’m generally in the “jaw-jaw is better than war-war” school of thought, and I think it’s long-past time that we talk with Kim and try to officially end the Korean War. But, in spite of the false starts under Clinton and Bush, it’s clear that Kim and the USA weren’t interested in doing so until the Kims felt they were on a more-equal footing. So, in a way, and unfortunately, it took the DPRK having a demonstrated nuclear deterrent for it to happen.

    I don’t think that it will be at all easy for a lasting and verifiable agreement to be created under Donnie. And there is a risk that Donnie will be bamboozled and give away the store so that he can sign something in his mania to somehow prove that he’s a Great Leader.

    I also said in that thread:

    The details of any agreement, and how it’s verified and enforced, and the consequences for breaking it, matter of course. I’m not at all sanguine about Donnie’s ability to get the details right.

    But talking in and of itself has no downside that I can see (in this particular case, given the history with the DPRK). I’m not sure that our historical position – the US is too important to talk to monsters unless we get what we want before we even start talking – has served us that well…

    No matter what happens, Donnie will take it as a huge win to be on TV, controlling the narrative, and pushing his legal troubles out of the news for a few hours… He doesn’t really care what happens afterwards – he’s not a “details” guy… :-/


  3. 3

    How many people care about N.Korea of all places. I don’t buy the premise that a sham “agreement” or “treaty” with them will be a big driver for reelection. Sounds like wishful thinking.

  4. 4

    Thanks Cheryl, I’ve been hoping to read some on this from you. (And still am, when you have more time!)

    That said, huh?:

    Trump may come back with something that superficially looks attractive. Voters who aren’t following the details will be impressed. Kim then reneges, and Trump blames someone else, maybe Obama. Trump is re-elected in 2020.

    The last part doesn’t really… follow.

  5. 5

    And from the dotard himself:

    A message from Kim Jong Un: “North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles.”
    Also will “Shut down a nuclear test site in the country’s Northern Side to prove the vow to suspend nuclear tests.” Progress being made for all!

  6. 6

    Vipin Narang is another person to follow on Twitter for commentary on North Korea.

  7. 7

    @Major Major Major Major: I agree. See my comment just above yours. GMTA!

  8. 8

    @Major Major Major Major: My reasoning is thus: Trump often manages to pull the wool over the eyes of less-informed voters. He will make a big noise about how his STRENGTH and RESOLVE brought North Korea to the table, only to have the weaklings defeat him. With another term and maybe some bombing, ONLY HE can make it right!

    And they will vote for him.

  9. 9
    Ken says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: As a wise man once said, “Trump will believe that his bluster and manliness, VP Pence’s stare of resolve, have done their job: Kim is giving up.”

  10. 10
    Mike in NC says:

    “Flummox” ought to be Donald Trump’s middle name.

  11. 11

    @schrodingers_cat: I agree it won’t be a primary driver, but Trump can make it one more feather in his cap of SUCCESSES, and too many people will buy it.

  12. 12

    @Cheryl Rofer: i don’t think enough of the relevant people (undecided/swing voters in the upper Midwest and DC suburbs) care enough about NK to affect the election, short of war.

  13. 13
    JPL says:

    Tariffs will be a bigger factor for the mid-west.

  14. 14
    I'll be Frank says:

    @Another Scott: I think you are right about the testing facility. I think this announcement looks like a NK lemonade stand, with Donald as a willing buyer.

  15. 15

    It’s not going to be one thing or another. Different regions will emphasize different factors. The issue is Trump’s projecting an aura of his ENORMOUS SUCCESSES. That’s what I’m getting at.

  16. 16
    The Other Chuck says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: The subject’s story can join all the other California Republican stalwarts in the broom closet they can all fit in. Iowa farmers may well defect en masse.

  17. 17

    @Major Major Major Major: Joe Scar has an op-ed in today WaPo saying Trump won’t run in 2020.

  18. 18

    @Cheryl Rofer: right but that person is clearly an idiot. People didn’t vote for Trump because they think he’s successful, or even because they want him to do anything other than successfully shit on other people. They just don’t care about the Korean Peninsula, or foreign policy at all except maybe (maybe.) making things go boom. They don’t care if he succeeds or even if he fails over there.

  19. 19

    This will not rebound in Trump’s favor. The people it will encourage to vote for were already looking for any excuse. It’s already coming out that North Korea is saying they don’t need nuke tests rather than they’re surrendering them. When it reaches cable news that Trump didn’t accomplish shit, he will throw a tantrum and the talking heads who would normally be all over Republican Daddy will cover the tantrum, thus revealing his failure to the Mushy Middle. It’s been going like this since he got the job.

  20. 20
    Baud says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Iraq War I didn’t help Bush I.

  21. 21

    I think it’s silly to focus so narrowly on particular factors and particular populations in an election that’s more than two years away. If that’s what y’all want to make this thread about, I’m gonna go do other things. If you want to talk about North Korea, I’ll stick around.

  22. 22
    JMG says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I disagree, although I lack your foreign policy expertise (massive understatement there). In election after election of my lifetime, foreign policy only matters when the President is perceived to have screwed up in a major way. There couldn’t have been a bigger foreign success than 41’s Gulf War. 20 months later, he got 38 percent of the vote. If walnut sales REALLY slump, that farmer will be less likely to be so sanguine.

  23. 23

    @Cheryl Rofer: I disagree that this will sway voters two years down the line. We shall see.

  24. 24

    @Baud: “it’s the Economy Stupid”.

  25. 25
    RepubAnon says:

    China and North Korea both tend to play a long game. Once there’s a peace treaty, US bases in South Korea will get unpopular quickly. The US will then withdraw, achieving a key North Korean goal.

    With the US out of the picture, and China looming large next door, South Korea may agree to reunification on the North’s terms – especially with the idea of Democracy in decline (thanks to many factors, including Trump.)

  26. 26
    trollhattan says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    They’re still angling for Moar Subsidized Federal Water via dismantling of the Endangered Species Act and Republicans are their only path, especially so if McCarthy becomes Speaker. Too soon to cut and run from Donny.

  27. 27

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    I’m not sure there’s much to say about Korea itself. Nobody disagrees with you, and most of us were leaning to this interpretation already. We do appreciate the useful context with things like how North Korea has a history of reneging on these statements.

  28. 28

    Okay, we disagree about something. South Korea will never agree to reunify on North Korea’s terms, period. North Korea’s terms will always include a Morth Korea’s dictator ruling the combined state.

  29. 29
    trollhattan says:

    @The Other Chuck:
    Iowa farmers keep Steve King in office, so watch how he does this fall to see if they’ve shifted gears at all.

  30. 30


    South Korea may agree to reunification on the North’s terms

    Ain’t gonna happen.

  31. 31
    RepubAnon says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Wait until people start losing their farms to foreclosure because they can’t sell their crops. If the Democrats can position themselves as the defenders of the little guy against the mega-corporations, they’ll win lots of elections.

    With social media, expensive TV advertising has lost some of its power. This reduces the need to be “Republican Lite” merely to woo mega-donors.

  32. 32

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: I know nothing of the Koreas, but this sounds too much like India would agree to Pak’s terms for reunification. No, that’s never going to happen even if the Indian equivalent of leftiest of lefties were in charge.

  33. 33

    The farmers will blame Democrats, the ‘against megacorporations’ slogan has proven ineffectual because the people for whom it is their #1 concern don’t turn out for Democrats no matter what, and the very few Republican Lite Dems are wooing difficult conservative constituents, not megacorporations. If they’re unhappy Republican turnout might be depressed, but our realistic hopes are on liberal turnout. Our realistic efforts are towards ensuring that.

  34. 34

    @schrodingers_cat: American hegemony isn’t crazy popular in SK but I imagine reunification under NK’s terms polls even lower than leaving the fan on overnight.

  35. 35
    JPL says:

    @RepubAnon: Well that’s not optimistic. ugh
    Trump would love to pull the troops out of South Korea, because he sees it as a waste of money.

  36. 36
    NotMax says:

    The part of Banquo’s ghost in this production will be played by Xi Jinping.

  37. 37
    trollhattan says:

    Maggie spends ten bucks on a clue. We’re yet to know if it’s a good investment.

    “When I was reporting this story, I said to one person who’s observed the Cohen-Trump relationship that Trump has been abusive to him. The person replied, ‘He’s abusive to everybody,’” she reported.

  38. 38

    @trollhattan: She doesn’t mind as long as it feathers her nest and makes her employer happy.

  39. 39
    trollhattan says:

    Consumer tip: Amazon has the Kindle edition of “The Pentagon Papers” for two bucks today. 848 pages of rip-roaring “fun.”

  40. 40
  41. 41
    WereBear says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: This also illustrates the “I’m not a DEMOCRAT kind of thinking” that is rampant with Trump voters.

  42. 42
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Mike in NC: Drop the first letter & I’m with you.

  43. 43
    WereBear says:

    @RepubAnon: Wait until people start losing their farms to foreclosure because they can’t sell their crops.

    Nope, it will be the dirty liberal’s fault and they will keep shooting their feet.

  44. 44
    Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et Al.) says:

    I was saying to somebody last night that I don’t see any way that Donald Tяump is going to get anything worthwhile out of this. I can see a few ways this meeting could go. The best outcome to my mind is that he calls it off altogether before it even begins. Next best would be that he goes and gets bored an hour into it and then just gets up and goes home.

    Then we get to bad outcomes. He could end up going along with whatever North Korea wants. Or he could get pissed off at the meeting and blow shit up, metaphorically or even literally.

    But no good can come of this. The guy doesn’t know how to do his job, he’s unwilling to learn, and he doesn’t trust and won’t listen to anybody who does know how these things work and could help him. He thinks he’s the best negotiator ever, and all he has to do is charm whoever is talking to him.

    I likened this situation to a plane full of drunks who can’t fly, and the pilot and copilot both die. One of the drunks has to go up and try to land the plane. Everybody on the ground will do their best to talk the guy down safely, and everybody following the news will send the obligatory thoughts and prayers, but everybody all knows how it’s going to end. There’s only one way it can end. The only real question is whether the drunk at the wheel only kills everybody in the plane, or whether he takes out a whole neighborhood of bystanders when he plows the flight into the ground.

  45. 45
    Amir Khalid says:


    South Korea may agree to reunification on the North’s terms

    Given its great advantage in economic power and influence, why would the South agree to be junior partner to the North in anything?

  46. 46
    Mike J says:

    @trollhattan: 848 pages is about 6000 pages short.

  47. 47
    trollhattan says:

    They’re utterly under control of AGM, Monsanto (a.k.a. Bayer) and the like, so clearly their biggest enemy are Democrats. I have no idea how to break their bond to Republicans, which is weird considering they were once Roosevelt Democrats and not Dixicrats.

  48. 48
    trollhattan says:

    @Mike J:
    Why do you think gawd invented 2pt type?

  49. 49
    WereBear says:

    @trollhattan: I’ll tell you why.

    Republicans tell they them are proud independent businessmen and rip them off.

    Democrats point out they are at the mercies of mega-corps and they should band together.

    Then they pick what they want to believe, because they still think that has an effect on reality.

  50. 50
  51. 51
    Gravenstone says:

    @The Other Chuck: Someone posted a SoDak bean farmer a couple of days ago who was saying the same thing. Screw us with tariffs and we will vote against you. It remains to be seen if they follow through on the threat.

  52. 52
    Culture of Truth says:

    Kim’s announcement feels like declaring right after Thanksgiving dinner you are now on a very strict diet – no more meat, carbs or sweets – no sir!

  53. 53
    B.B.A. says:

    If Trump wins reelection (doubtful but incumbency is a hell of a drug), it won’t have anything to do with Korea (which I predict will stay as intractable as ever). It’ll be by campaigning against Hillary. The Democratic candidate, whoever he or she may be, will have to repeatedly explain that he or she isn’t Hillary, but as the saying goes, if you’re explaining, you’re losing.

  54. 54
    FlyingToaster says:

    @trollhattan: Have them lose their farms and have to retire to the sun belt, where per tribal norms, they’ll continue to vote Republican until they die.

    No one can make the economics of a “family farm” work if they’re growing wheat/corn/soybeans. Specialty farms can survive (e.g., most of the farms left up here in New England), but for the staples, it’s going to be corporations and migrant labor with a resident overseer class, not family farms. Which means that the Republicans have a very short window before they lose too many voters. No megadonor can make up for sheer lack of voters.

  55. 55
    d58826 says:

    OT but I saw on twitter that the Bush family made it a point to uninvite Der Fuhrer to the funeral. Must be nice to be so popular.

  56. 56
    trollhattan says:

    Lifted from a post over at LGM

    Democrats have secured a candidate on the ballot in every 2018 Colorado congressional, statehouse and major statewide race.

    More of this.

  57. 57
    Ruckus says:

    That’s because given the details bush 1 did what he was supposed to do. He didn’t go in and destroy Iraq/Saddam. That’s what the war mongers wanted, that’s why his son was so willing to go in and “finish” the job. It was the only thing right about Iraq 1. The war mongers don’t give a shit about being right, only about being on top when their boys have finished dying. Just like now, they understand nothing about the world, only their bullshit manly fantasies.

  58. 58
    d58826 says:

    Barrack Obama is beind kind and gracious to the wife of a man who is the total opposite of kind and gracious to him every day. Let that be a lesson.

    Obama talking to Melania at the funeral. And she CAN smile!!!!!!!

  59. 59
    d58826 says:

    @Baud: Lousy economy at the time didn’t help. And didn’t Ross Perot run as a third party and pull votes from the other two?

  60. 60
    Cermet says:

    Given: the fat pus ball now has a optimized hydrogen bomb; ditto on an ICBM; both are derived from russian know-how, parts so further testing is now irreverent. So, the pus ball will make lots of noise and make our fat fart cloud agree to a host of irrelevant conditions that vaguely suggest that at some future stage the Korean peninsula will be denuclearized after the US withdraws. Of course, our embargo will be removed in some short term and we will provide other ‘incentives’ for this massive break-through (LOL.) So, our fat fart cloud can act as if anything of value was achieved.

  61. 61
    Ruckus says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et Al.):
    Very good summation of our current political situation. The roaring drunk loons are supposed to be in charge. But specifically because they are roaring drunk loons, they will fuck up everything they come in contact with. Strangers, relations, anything legal, politics, life, government, business, history, you name it, roaring drunk loons will fuck it up every time……..

    Republicans, The Roaring Drunk Loon Party.

  62. 62
    d58826 says:

    wow. Just saw on my phone twitter that FLOTUS took several members of the WH staff to the funeral as her guests. They were esp. close to Mrs Bush.

  63. 63
    jonas says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: They were never in it for the economics. Trump could bankrupt them and sow their fields with salt and they would not give a shit. They were in it for the hippie punching, and Trump does a fantastic job of that.

  64. 64
    jonas says:

    Here’s why you don’t go into incredibly complex negotiations having gotten there (so you think) through a couple of blustering, chest-thumping gestures. Trump’s crowing about how Kim has offered to “denuclearize” the peninsula and if things don’t go like he wants, he’ll get up and walk away. Big tough guy! Has anyone in the WH bothered to ask what “denuclearization” looks like on the Korean peninsula? If Trump thinks it means Kim just unilaterally gives up his entire nuclear program, he has another thing coming. Kim’s going to demand a treaty ending the war and recognizing DPRK sovereignty, exit of all US forces, possibly also from the Japanese islands, lifting of all sanctions, etc. in return for…? Just halting further development? Getting rid of weapons programs, but keeping other nuclear research capabilities, a la Iran? It took years to nail down the Iran deal because what denuclearization means and what security guarantees and what sanctions mean and apply to are really, really complicated and all sides wanted to make sure they were on the same page before advancing to a summit that actually sealed a deal. Trump thinks he’s negotiating to build a golf course or something. Just got to get some zoning bs waved and we’re good to go, right?

    And if these talks fail and Trump walks away as he threatened to, then what? The bombing begins at 6 the next morning? The world is going to freak the fuck out and it will not end well.

  65. 65
    oatler. says:

    @jonas: Yeah, the farm foreclosures in the 80s didn’t keep them from voting for Bush Sr. Republicanism is a religion ( and apparently superior to Christianity at this point).

  66. 66
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Major Major Major Major:
    People like that should just be disenfranchised. That’s the least that should happen to them. There. I said it.

    Trump voters are too stupid to live in a free society. They’re like children who need a strong guiding hand.

    And now I sound like a late 19th century imperialist. Thanks Trumpers for turning me into this!

  67. 67
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @d58826: who wouldn’t smile talking to President Obama? But in her daily life, Melania has little reason to smile. She’ll probably spend this evening reflecting on her life choices. Surely there were more congenial millionaires out there.

  68. 68
    Waratah says:

    @trollhattan: for some dumb reason I decided to read that post. She was using Roger Stone and that other idiot ( I can’t remember his name), for quotes for her post. she just wanted attention and if I had known Maggie was the author I would not have clicked.

  69. 69
    The Other Chuck says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:
    They say exactly the same thing about us. I prefer to keep the faith that we outnumber the deplorables, and the principles of democracy, when unfettered from their manipulations, will absolutely flatten them.

  70. 70
    Calouste says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: They could make the united Korea a constitutional monarchy (Korea was a united kingdom for centuries), with Kim as the mostly ceremonial monarch. Kim gets to feel important, and as the South outnumbers the North 2-1, there isn’t a lot of chance that democracy will be overturned. Of course Kim has to give up most of his power, but he will lead a very comfy life and a prominent place in the history books will be ensured.

  71. 71
    Ruckus says:

    We all should know by now that the most complex things that drumpf is capable of is finding someone to send out for McDs. He likes McDs because he thinks that it’s harder for someone to poison him that way. He’s a loon. He not only doesn’t do complex, he’s not capable of complex. He’s proven that over and over and over. He likes simple because he’s a simpleton. Kim may be a lot of negative things (he is) but he is not a simpleton. He’s going to wipe the floor with drumpf. And drumpf won’t even know he’s been had.
    drumpf is a fucking simpleton – an ignorant, foolish, or silly person. Two out of three isn’t bad.

  72. 72
    B.B.A. says:

    @Gelfling 545: I’m reminded of how after years of grief, Boehner finally gave up after a meeting with the Pope.

  73. 73
    Ruckus says:

    Not gunna happen that way. Kim wants it all and wants it all his way.

  74. 74
    JAFD says:

    I would like to try and look at this from the viewpoint of a patriotic and/or nationalist South Korean:

    The North Koreans have a common language with us, two thousand years of common history. The past seventy years are an aberration. Sometime soon we will be one unified country again.

    We’ve heard our grandparents tell about the Japanese occupation, their treatment of Korean laborers in the war and today in Japan. We do not think of Japan as our friend.

    Two thousand years of Korean history teaches that a strong China will try to conquer Korea and reduce it to servitude.

    The Russians are on our northeastern border. They have no history with us, but we have no reason to trust them.

    The USA is our friend, but they’re a long swim away.

    Eventually Korea will be reunified. It will mean much sacrifice for us to bring our separated family members ‘up to speed’. But the sacrifices they have made to produce a nuclear deterrent have given them a valuable ‘dowry’ for the reunion.

    Cogent summation of situation, or fever dream ? Your thoughts ? Thanks very much.

  75. 75
    Bill Arnold says:

    Cheryl, do you know the state of knowledge about the DPRK’s confidence in its missile guidance systems and reentry vehicles?
    e.g. how much is known about the testing?
    If they have not been adequately tested and the US is reasonably confident of this (boasting notwithstanding) then perhaps the outlines of a deal might include some elements like the following (note I haven’t studied it so some of these might now make sense):
    – No more live testing of devices or long-range missiles. Compliance for both of these can be verified easily.
    This would include some sort of threshold test ban treaty, with inspections if an event inside NK is detected.
    – Large reduction of (expensive) US forces in SK (e.g. 75% plus)
    – Formal peace treaty ending the Korean War
    – DPRK agrees to a complete cessation of proliferation activities, including help with reactors, missiles and also explicitly including no sale or gifts of actual weapons to other state or non-state entities, with some sort of inspection arrangement for ships. (Perhaps also aircraft.) (Note: this is possibly on the table because the CIA has been doing the initial negotiations.)

    I could also list what the various sides (mostly DPRK and US) arguably get out of such a deal but such a list needs to be carefully crafted.

  76. 76
    Cermet says:

    @Bill Arnold: You assume that russian’s didn’t supply the parts, manufacturing equipment, expertise nor the technology – they did. One launch is all the north needed. Look at their results with the russian supplied hydrogen bomb – it was as powerful as ours (200 kT.) Obvious russian – going from a joke < 2 kT atomic bomb (that was large and a lousy weapon) to an optimized hydrogen bomb was 200 kt something the Koreans could not have have done on their own (as they failed and failed for over ten years.) No, our side knows full well that they need no more testing and want us to sell the farm for a "permanent" halt in testing. Considering how stupid the fart cloud is, they might very well get this agreement – especially since the thugs in congress will lick the fart cloud's ass on anything.

  77. 77

    @Bill Arnold: Basically, as far as I can tell, nobody knows anything but what we see in the news. There are some very sharp people, particularly at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute at Monterey, who do a good job of analyzing the videos and stills that the North Koreans release. I doubt that the intelligence community has a whole lot more.

    Confidence in systems is a very relative thing, and I’ve thought a lot about that. So here are my thoughts.

    For a country developing these systems, the degree of confidence is related to the purpose of the systems. If Iran is developing missiles to hit Israel, they would want them to be pretty reliable – dropping them on Syria or Iraq would be a bummer. But if North Korea is developing them to put on a good enough show to get the US’s attention, then not so much.

    Something that I always stress in analyses is that testing one, two, or three does not imply anything about how many have been produced. The other side of that is that North Korea’s statement says they won’t test, but it doesn’t say they won’t produce more. Would they start production before they were really sure of their design? How sure is “really sure” to them? Producing this stuff is not simple.

    My guess is that they are willing to act on the basis of less confidence than we would require, but production is difficult enough that the missile-nuclear-weapon assemblies they have are toward the lower end of the estimates that show up from time to time. Maybe twenty, max, on shorter-range missiles and five, max, that could reach the US. And in my heart of hearts, I think it’s less than that.

  78. 78
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @The Other Chuck:
    So do I.

  79. 79
    Bill Arnold says:


    You assume that russian’s didn’t supply the parts, manufacturing equipment, expertise nor the technology – they did. One launch is all the north needed. Look at their results with the russian supplied hydrogen bomb – it was as powerful as ours (200 kT.) Obvious russian – going from a joke < 2 kT atomic bomb (that was large and a lousy weapon) to an optimized hydrogen bomb was 200 kt something the Koreans could not have have done on their own (as they failed and failed for over ten years.)

    You know these things how?
    You know, as fact, that it was not a very large boosted device? (actually I think it was homebrew thermonuclear but I don’t know) And that the russians supplied all these things?
    We’re talking about 50-60 year old technology.

  80. 80
    J R in WV says:

    Drumpf scares me when he thinks about nuclear devices.

    When he makes decisions about nuclear devices, especially when he’s trying to be clever, a great negotiator, I get terrified, and want to start work to convert the root cellar into a fallout shelter. It isn’t that hard to provide enough protection to protect your family for the couple of weeks if would take for the initial fallout to half-life into being less dangerous.

    There are bases in the mid-west that are upwind from us. Of course a North Korean attack would be a scattershot kind of thing.

  81. 81
    Another Scott says:


    Trump’s GOP should have a hell of a time explaining why a deal with North Korea, which has nuclear weapons, is better than the one they’re about to break with Iran, which doesn’t.

    7:38 AM – 21 Apr 2018



  82. 82
    Ruckus says:

    @Bill Arnold:
    It doesn’t need to be up to date technology to kill lots of people. That’s the thing about nuclear, if it can get to the general area of the target, and go off it can do a lot of very serious damage. The technology from 73 yrs ago was crap, the delivery system was slow and damaged easily. It still did a lot of damage. That 15-20 year improvement between 1945 and the Russian technology you mentioned was a significant step. Sure not as good as what has transpired since but still significant. Kim is not trying to be a world power in the same sense as Russia was or we have been, what he wants is to be taken seriously. Not doing that because his technology is old and not as effective is a huge mistake. All it has to be is effective enough. Hell all it really has to be is believed to be effective enough.

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    @J R in WV:

    Drumpf scares me when he thinks about nuclear devices.

    Always trust in Trump’s cowardice. This man is so wet-his-pants scared of confrontation that he can’t fire people face to face even though he has complete power over them. He is not going to launch a nuke at anyone. Every time he announces military anything, it turns out that he took the coward’s way out and it meant nothing.

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    jl says:

    Isn’t there a lot of independent evidence that NK pretty much wrecked some of its critical nuclear test facilities in the recent push to demonstrate capability of deliverable nukes on ballistic missiles. Seems to me some of these NK concessions are really acknowledgment of necessity, at least for now.

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    @jl: Some observers believe that the latest nuclear test damaged the test site pretty badly. We can’t be positive about that any more than we can about other things, but yes it’s possible that what look like concessions are bowing to necessity. Overall, though, most nuke experts think North Korea is probably pretty happy with the state of their weapons design. Their missiles aren’t bad either.

    What they seem to be saying is “We’ve got our nuclear deterrent. Now we’ll talk.”

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    jl says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: “We’ve got our nuclear deterrent. Now we’ll talk.”
    Yes, looks like that is the other side of the coin. They got some critical tests done, that may have severely damaged their ability to do more for the time being, but those tests provided the world with credible evidence they could deliver nukes on missiles. Definitely a concern for the region. And even if claims that they can deliver a nuke to US soil are more doubtful, the chance is not zero anymore.

    A normal person as president, even Dub, would be thinking very carefully about what NK means by ‘denuclearlization’ and how that could conceivably match up with what US, Japan and others need that to mean in order to strike credible deals. but, we have the Trumpster. He’ll think it means whatever the last dingus in the room tells him it means, or whatever makes him win the PR day that day.

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    Brachiator says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    I am coming very late to the thread and want to thank you again for your observations.

    I said in an earlier thread that if Trump is seen to have secured a deal, he will be re-elected. This is not just because voters are stupid, but because a success today is a success right now. Also, Trump sells himself as a strong man deal maker, and almost any good agreement will reinforce that image. Hell, Trump could reject a deal and walk away and still look strong.

    None of this takes anything away from deep concerns that people have about Trump’s ability to actually negotiate something real and durable.

    ETA. I’m curious what the reaction was to Bill Clinton’s deal with North Korea in 1994.

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    @Brachiator: I don’t directly recall. The first thing that comes to mind is that it was a great sense of relief. Clinton was actually considering strikes against North Korea, so we were a little further down that road, but Clinton was a real president, not the rage furby we have now.

    Here are the articles at the time from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

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