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North Korea Rejects a ‘Libya-Style’ Deal

In an announcement that should surprise absolutely no one, North Korea has ruled out [1] a Libya-style agreement on its nuclear weapons program:

North Korea said it is rejecting Libya-style denuclearization, the North’s state media said on Wednesday.

It also says it will need to reconsider negotiations with the U.S. if the Trump adminstration insists on it giving up its nuclear program.

Citing first vice minister of foreign affairs Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea’s central news agency also said the fate of the U.S.-North Korea summit as well as bilateral relations “would be clear” if Washington speaks of a Libya-style denuclearization for the North.

This latest statement from North Korea should make plain that its government has no interest in denuclearization on terms that would be satisfactory to the Trump administration. That doesn’t come as news to anyone paying the slightest attention to North Korean public statements from recent years, but its importance cannot be overstated. North Korea’s government has taken the deal made with Gaddafi as a cautionary tale of what a government should never do, and they have cited Gaddafi’s grisly end as proof that they have been right to press ahead with their nuclear weapons program instead of disarming. Everyone knew [2] that North Korea would never accept a “Libya-style” arrangement, and that is why Bolton’s frequent references to imitating the deal made with Libya have been so worrisome [3].

As long as the administration insists on “complete, verifiable, and irreversible” denuclearization, it is difficult to see what agreement the U.S. and North Korea could reach in the months and years to come. Disarming North Korea of its nuclear weapons is and has long been an unrealistic goal, and if the U.S. wants to get anything out of talks with North Korea it should be willing to settle for much more modest concessions. Diplomacy with North Korea is definitely the right way forward, but the administration and all other parties have to approach negotiations with the understanding that North Korea is going to remain a nuclear-armed state for the foreseeable future. Once that is understood and accepted, the U.S. and its allies may be able to secure important limitations on North Korea’s weapons and missile programs and it makes real progress towards a lasting peace treaty possible. If the U.S. and its allies can’t or won’t accept this, the standoff from last year is very likely to resume and grow much worse. That is probably what Bolton and other hard-liners are counting on, and we have to hope that they are disappointed.

25 Comments (Open | Close)

25 Comments To "North Korea Rejects a ‘Libya-Style’ Deal"

#1 Comment By Adamant On May 15, 2018 @ 11:17 pm

To summarize: Nobel Prize not happening.

#2 Comment By sjay On May 16, 2018 @ 1:31 am

Trump really leaned into this one: three weeks of premature Nobel Prize celebration and now he’s out on a limb with Kim and possibly the Chinese in a position to saw it off. Could not have happened to a nicer guy.

#3 Comment By David Cobb On May 16, 2018 @ 6:45 am

For Bolton to even reference Libya is because he is really an idiot and doesn’t know any better, or it’s some type of juvenile threat.

#4 Comment By Youknowho On May 16, 2018 @ 7:01 am

Only Trump would think that it was in the bag before negotiations started…

And all that talk of Nobel told Kim how much Trump wanted a deal, any deal… Bad move. Never let them know how hungry you are.

#5 Comment By HenionJD On May 16, 2018 @ 8:07 am

Bolton is no fool. He references Libya precisely because that’s the worst, most provocative example he can muster. Did anyone think he would welcome any outcome that doesn’t include the word “war”?

#6 Comment By Dan Green On May 16, 2018 @ 9:49 am

I had always believed if the Rocket man had half a brain, he would always be cognizant of what happened to both Saddam and Gaddafi. Once the CIA gets access, it will be game over for the rocket man. Or the Navy Seals gain entry.

#7 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On May 16, 2018 @ 10:19 am

so much for the businessman/outsider changing the game (draining the swamp). here’s the problem, executive leadership/governance is not a real estate transaction. while ‘selling’ is important, deft manipulation of bankruptcy laws and leveraging/restructuring debt are moot. we won’t even discus the $40 million head start. it’s, I don’t know, like the difference between reality and reality TV. as with the ‘Russia thing’ Trump and his “team” are profoundly overmatched and ill-equipped to “compete” in the global arena. they colluded without knowing they were colluding and they continue to be leveraged when they should be leveraging. I know, I know; but the emails…

#8 Comment By Johann On May 16, 2018 @ 10:26 am

I believe China has guaranteed NK’s independence and that is why NK was being cooperative. But when Bolton puts the “Lybia Option” out there, even with China’s guaranteed to intervene in any attack, NK had to respond to such an arrogant remark.

Bolton needs to be put in an asylum. If Trump had any sense himself, he would not allow Bolton within gun shot range of the white house.

#9 Comment By Egypt Steve On May 16, 2018 @ 10:32 am

Seems that, unlike Trump, Kim might have actually read “The Art of the Deal.” Trump is now hooked and he can either let himself be reeled in and become sushi on Kim’s plate, or he can rip the hook out of his mouth and swim away, bloodied and humiliated. I don’t much care either way.

#10 Comment By LouisM On May 16, 2018 @ 11:20 am

It is ludicrous to compare Libya to North Korea.
1) Libya neither had the money nor the intellectual base for nuclear power or a nuclear bomb.
2) Libya was surrounded by a desert to the south, the Mediterranean to the north and 3rd world countries to the east and west. I did not support the over throw of Libya as that was an obvious Obama/ Hillary Clinton folly to bolster her as a tough warrior candidate for president but turned out to be just another incompetent colossal failure just like everything else. However, the point was Libya was isolated from any allies powerful enough to dissuade either the US or the EU from regime change in Libya.
3) China does not like a land war on the Asian mainland and has been known to cross the border to fight Russia, India and the US (US in both Korea and Vietnam). The US is not going to invade or engage in regime change against North Korea and risk China and Russia crossing the border. It would take North Korea threatening pre-emptive nuclear strike on South Korea, Japan or the US to justify such a risk of engaging Russia and China.

North Korea is an entirely different situation than Libya because of its geographic location.

To prove it, Trump could easily invite China, Russia, Japan and South Korea as joint signators ending the Korean War and the treaty denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Call me hopeful but I would put a 10-25 year timetable for reunification as an assurance the US is not seeking regime but opening the door to a new peaceful future for the Korean peoples (a future that would make north Korean elites quite rich).

#11 Comment By Egypt Steve On May 16, 2018 @ 11:24 am

Joe the Plutocrat makes a good point. Drumpf was successful in real estate negotiations (to the extent he was successful) because he is at least knowledgeable about the actual value of what he is negotiating over. He knows how much he needs to get our of the deal to turn a profit; and he can make at least a shrewd guess about what his negotiating partner needs. Knowing this, he can calibrate his belligerent histrionics or his fawning sycophancy accordingly.

But in the realm of politics, both domestic and international, Drumpf simply has no idea what the actual equities involved are. He can’t begin to guess what a deal is worth, not to North Korea, and actually not even to the House Republican caucus. So of course he fails every time.

#12 Comment By Anonne On May 16, 2018 @ 11:37 am

Who didn’t see that coming? lmao.

#13 Comment By One Guy On May 16, 2018 @ 12:49 pm

“If Trump had any sense himself, he would not allow Bolton within gun shot range of the white house.”

Heh, I don’t know if it’s because of “sense”, but recent history tells us that in a few weeks, Bolton will be out of a job; maybe working for Breitbart.

And the hiring of only the best people goes on.

#14 Comment By Christian Chuba On May 16, 2018 @ 12:58 pm

The Libya deal … give up all of your weapons, grovel at our feet, beg for forgiveness, and we will dispense justice at a later date. Who wouldn’t jump at that offer?

Silly Kim, he actually expects something in return for giving up his nukes but we think that letting him shake hands with the President is ample reward.

We are the most narcissistic, conceited people on the face of the planet and are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. All Kim wants is for us to leave S. Korea or at least stop flaunting our military on his borders but we won’t even give that up.

#15 Comment By Michelle On May 16, 2018 @ 1:23 pm

Both Libya and Iran showed Kim that it’s folly to negotiate with the US, and particularly with Trump. Did our erstwhile reality TV president really think he was going to get Kim to give up all his nukes especially once he himself nuked the Iran treaty absent any evidence the Iranians hadn’t lived up to their end of the deal? If so, he even stupider than he seems.

#16 Comment By Sid_finster On May 16, 2018 @ 1:42 pm

@LouisM – what nonsense. Pakistan, without oil money or any distinguished educational institutions, a country never more than one or two assassinations from a failed state, Pakistan managed to build a bomb.

#17 Comment By rayray On May 16, 2018 @ 1:59 pm

@LouisM
Your analysis is canny…especially the part about whatever guarantees Kim got from China.

And also about the differences between Libya and NK in terms of our ability to foment regime change after a nuclear disarmament deal.

That said, despite the situation differences, Libya (and Iran) are good intel on how we operate in the world. And Kim’s comments are indicative that he has drawn the right conclusions from them about the US as a negotiating partner and Kim’s place in the world. Sadly, Kim actually made a smart bet. When Bush tried to renegotiate AFTER he’d already given up nukes he realized…if I don’t got nukes, I got nothing.

#18 Comment By Youknowho On May 16, 2018 @ 2:26 pm

Can we harbor the hope that this rude awakening will lead to Trump canning Bolton?

#19 Comment By Dee On May 16, 2018 @ 2:43 pm

The most powerful Nation ever awaits an edifying “tweet” from the Twitterer-in-Chief! Is the Armada sailing again or is rocket-man honorable?? The world wonders.

#20 Comment By Thrice A Viking On May 16, 2018 @ 3:34 pm

Negotiations may be the best way forward, but I question whether that’s only because everything else is horrendous. I don’t know that these “important limitations” are verifiable, and if they’re not, how do we know the North is abiding by them?

Anyway, I’m not convinced that Kim really wants such a deal. His regime thrives on conflict. Indeed, it probably can’t exist without it. If they were to achieve peace, easy crossing of borders for their people, a lack of fear of police among the law-abiding – how in the world could he and the generals stay in power? No, the enemy must always be at the gates, threatening to get in, for their brainwashed military and police to stay loyal.

#21 Comment By b. On May 16, 2018 @ 5:46 pm

Russia, China and North Korea took notice of the US bluster that driving a hard line on North Korean unconditional “surrender of all nukes” is having an impact on Iran, and vice versa, that breaking JCOPA scared North Korea into compliance. North Korea has now put the South Korean government on notice – using the pervasively available pretext of their acquiescence to US military exercises – as well as the Trump administration. China’s government has always supported the freeze-freeze proposal – no more nukes and tests, no more military exercises and deployments – and it would appear that North Korea is taking it from there.

There is really nothing to gain for North Korea, China or Russia to hold back until the embarrassing EU “danse macabre” regarding JCOPA ends in spineless ooze – it certainly would not provide a sanity check on US ambitions to enable to Trump administration to pretend that their unilateral escalations lead anywhere but to war.

#22 Comment By cka2nd On May 16, 2018 @ 5:49 pm

Europe post-Gaddafi is another real-world illustration of what U.S.-sponsored regime change in the DPRK would look like to China. No need to imagine what 2-3 million NK refugees crossing our border would look like when we have those charming scenes on the Mediterranean, in Europe and in the Libyan slave markets popping up in the news.

I second Sid_finster and rayray in their responses to LouisM.

#23 Comment By b. On May 16, 2018 @ 5:49 pm

Footnote: if North Korea really wanted to play South Korea against the US, all they have to do is to deliver the promised shutdown of their nuclear testing facilities while continuing to make clear that the kind of promises that Gorbachev or Gaddafi received will not be sufficient.

It is hard to see how the US could provide plausible security guarantees and sign on to binding agreements at this point, except to captive “allies”. The EU might have to creep that line, nobody else really has any reason to.

#24 Comment By Fran Macadam On May 16, 2018 @ 5:58 pm

” … as an assurance the US is not seeking regime change”

History shows that regime change is baked into what America metastasized into, as all former republics must, when elites betray their peoples’ form of government for imperialism.

#25 Comment By Thrice A Viking On May 17, 2018 @ 11:39 am

Sid_finster, what you say is true as far as it goes. However, it also be noted that Pakistan has nearly 30 times the number of people as Libya does, which also makes a difference when comparing the two nations’ relative capacities for nuclear power.