Negotiations with North Korea?
North Korea continued its provocative streak, as it tested a hydrogen bomb that it claims can fit onto a missile. The test was around 120 kilotons, roughly 8 times that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
At this point, it’s safe to throw military action out the window. Hydrogen bombs are devastating devices, with the capability to wreak havoc and destroy major population centers. Any strike by the US would provoke massive retaliation, capable of killing hundreds of thousands of people.
This data was taken from nukemap, a free site which allows you to input kilotons, any city on Earth, and blast settings, and analyze fatalities and fallout.
There are essentially six major players in the North Korean crisis: North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, the United States, and Russia. These players can be divided into two group. One group is comprised of those who are more lenient on North Korea and have supported the Kim Regime: China, Russia, and, of course, North Korea (Can be called the pro-North Korean side). On the other hand, the US, Japan, and South Korea’s most ideal situation would be a united, democratic, Korean peninsula (which will be referred to as the anti-North Korean side), with North Korea not even existing. Obviously, these two views cannot coexist. Therefore, negotiation is necessary.
Bringing North Korea to the negotiating table, contrary to popular belief, won’t be too difficult. North Korea does want to negotiate some sort of deal with the United States. The essential question is now one that has largely been ignored: what does North Korea want?
North Korea’s greatest desire is sovereignty. They have no real interest in nuking cities off the map as a first strike attack, since this would only result in a massive nuclear retaliation by the United States, resulting in North Korea ceasing to exist. North Korea’s main nuclear interest in lies in deterrence. Kim Jong Un and his father, Kim Jong Il, were not stupid. They saw what happened in Libya and Iraq in the absence of WMDs: both governments were eventually overthrown by the United States, as no real deterrent prevented the US from doing so. However, if the US attempts regime change in North Korea, nuclear weapons would be soon headed towards Tokyo, Seoul, and possibly even cities in the United States, killing millions of people.
The pro-North Korean side, on the other hand, doesn’t care much for North Korea’s totalitarian regime. They simply desire a buffer zone between the US backed, democratic South Korea, against their own borders. Therefore, the sovereignty of North Korea is a necessity to appease them as well.
The US, South Korea, and Japan, could therefore settle a deal where North Korea (under Chinese, Russian, and American supervision) destroys all of of its nuclear bombs and long range missiles. In exchange, China, the US, and South Korea agree to never attack North Korea unless North Korea attacks first, with nuclear deterrence being provided by the US, Russia, and China. This sort of deal has worked in Cuba, wherein the nuclear missiles stored within the country were removed in exchange for a promise by both the US and USSR to never attack Cuba. While this deal has numerous flaws, in that a) North Korea may not be willing to give up its nukes and b) Kim Jong Un and his tyrannical dictatorship remains in power, it could be the best option out of many terrible options.