Rand Institute Roadmap for Negotiations with North Korea

North Korea nuclear arms crisis

PEJOURNAL – The continuing North Korean nuclear arms crisis in various US governments has made it a complex issue. The Rand Institute has tried to find a way to solve this crisis

In 1946, the US Air Force commissioned Douglas Air Industries to build a test aircraft with worldwide flying capability. In 1947, the company held a symposium to hire experts to provide broader analysis and research to the US military, which led to the founding of the Rand Institute in 1948.

Rand has been instrumental in shaping US military strategy since the 1950s, and one of his most famous activities has been setting the framework for a nuclear deterrence policy through “complete bilateral destruction” overseen by then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. As of 2005, more than two-thirds of the institute’s research was in the field of US national security.

A recent report in this series is devoted to presenting a strategy for resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis. The authors point to the need to write a report citing Trump’s failure to resolve the crisis, despite two direct talks with Kim Jong Un in June 2018 and February 2019, which ultimately led to a reduction in the level and suspension of talks. They have proposed two steps towards advancing North Korea’s disarmament talks.

Step One: Pathology

In the first stage, the experts evaluated the reasons for the failure of the previous negotiations and listed three cases in this regard:

Disagreement about goals: Some kind of tacit agreement on the basic goals of the negotiations is essential to advancing any dialogue. This does not necessarily mean a common understanding of goals. North Korea, for example, sees economic recovery in providing more goods and services to its people, but the United States is focusing on human rights.

But it is necessary to form a mutual understanding of the basic needs of the parties. In previous negotiations, for example, the United States merely insisted on nuclear disarmament without guaranteeing sovereignty and not trying to “regime change.” That is why the North Korean Communist Party government, which sees nuclear weapons as a guarantee of its survival, refused to reach an agreement.

Another issue is that the United States has focused more on the security goals of the talks and has neglected the economic and diplomatic goals that are a higher priority for North Korea.

 Removing the nuclear threat  Maintaining stability of the Korean regimeImproving korea’s economyDevelopment of Korea’s Foreign RelationsMaintaining stability of the Korean regimeImproving korea’s economyDevelopment of Korea’s Foreign Relations
1994        *           *     *          *       **      *
2003    – 2007        *             *     *      *
  2018       *           *     *       *
Removing the nuclear threat, American goals, North Korea goals

As shown in the table, it was only the 1994 negotiations that persuaded North Korea to continue to accept intelligence and periodic inspections. Because the United States was committed to meeting some economic needs, including electricity and fuel as an alternative to nuclear energy.

But with the establishment of George W. Bush and his hostile approach to North Korea, which he called the “Axis of Evil” in 2003, Pyongyang also withdrew from the UNP and took an aggressive approach.

“”The White House negotiating team was committed to things that had internal stakeholders, but those actors did not agree to participate in the deal and therefore prevented it from being implemented””

Inadequate internal support: Another important factor that has thwarted the US government’s negotiations with North Korea has been the lack of support from the Republican Congress during the negotiations. The 1994 agreement promised to transfer heavy fuel oil to North Korea, but was delayed due to a reluctance by Congress to fund such aid.

“Development of diplomatic relations with North Korea is zero without the positive opinion of Congress,” said then-Secretary of Defense William Perry. In fact, the main issue was that the White House negotiating team was committed to cases that had internal stakeholders, but those actors did not participate in the agreement and therefore prevented it from being implemented.

Lack of trust-building mechanisms: Slow, technical, and phased trust-building processes occur. In the absence of mechanisms for verifying the commitments of the parties, negotiations will not go beyond the negotiation stage.

North Korea became distrustful of the United States’ lack of political will to live up to its commitments under the 1994 agreements and the six-party talks. The United States was also skeptical of the North Korean government’s official reports on its nuclear activities in the 2018 and 2019 talks, and its proposal to reduce sanctions on civilian oil imports failed due to the impossibility of verifying possible deviations from military spending.

“”There will be serious disagreement between the United States and China over internal changes in North Korea’s power structure. The Chinese Communist Party will emphasize the improvement of bureaucracy in North Korea, but Washington will emphasize the division of power in this country””

Step 2: Modify the method

At this stage, experts have explained three steps to eliminate previous defects:

Casting: The United States, China and South Korea are the three actors proposed in the report for North Korea’s disarmament talks. The United States has been involved in the Korean Peninsula since the 1940s and, in close alliance with Japan and South Korea, feels threatened by the development of North Korea’s missile capability.

China is a close neighbor of North Korea, which also wants peace and stability in the region to boost economic activity, and could increase the guarantee of an agreement to maintain North Korea’s government and economic growth. South Korea is important because of its close ethnic ties and desire for bilateral unity.

Japan does not need to be present in the talks because its interests overlap in the negotiations with the United States and Russia, because it does not play a major role in the Korean Peninsula events and its security interests are close to China. In addition to foreign actors, several domestic stakeholders should be considered in the dialogue. In North Korea, first the military, which is in charge of the nuclear program, and then the traditional economic elite, which has managed foreign trade since Kim Jong Un, are important.

In the United States, Congress is relevant because of its undeniable role in rejecting or approving government decisions, and then public opinion because of the importance of media propaganda about the North Korean nuclear threat. In China, state-owned enterprises can play a more prominent role in securing negotiations through bilateral relations with North Korea. Opposition parties in South Korea, as well as public sensitivities on human rights, culture and trade issues, are important in South Korea.

Goal setting: The economic development of the Korean Peninsula and the elimination of the nuclear threat from this geopolitical area are goals that all actors agree on, although they have different perceptions of it. At the same time, the development of Pyongyang’s foreign relations with its neighbors, as well as the improvement of its international position by eliminating Security Council threats, is also of interest to many actors.

But the development of democracy and human rights considerations will certainly be opposed by Beijing. In addition, there will be serious differences between the United States and China over internal changes in North Korea’s power structure. The Chinese Communist Party will insist on improving the bureaucracy in North Korea, but Washington will emphasize the division of power in that country.

Action Plan: This report presents four action plans in the areas of defense, diplomacy, economics and public diplomacy. The defense sector emphasizes the elimination of the Pyongyang nuclear threat to the United States and its allies, and in return only the United States is required to reduce its equipment and military forces and maneuvers within the Korean Peninsula.

In fact, the report specifically focuses on US interests. Regarding the diplomatic program, the establishment of representative offices in the two countries has been emphasized. An action that could pave the way for the opening of embassies and the preparation of trade and tourism relations. The last round of talks failed in 1995 with North Korean opposition.

The announcement of the end of the war will also mean the end of tensions, at least in the short term, and the elimination of the risk of military conflict, which will have a significant impact on improving the course of diplomatic visits and trade exchanges. The proposed economic program based on the easing of Security Council sanctions is, firstly, gradual and time-consuming and, secondly, limited to the development of industries related to food, transport and energy goods and services.

China and South Korea are playing an important role in this program of action to gradually develop North Korea’s infrastructure, given the lack of security and military threats to Western interests. Regarding public diplomacy, first of all, it is emphasized on the beginning and expansion of exchanges of sports, academic, cultural and artistic delegations between the United States and South Korea and North Korea, which will have a positive effect, especially considering the ethnic ties between the two Koreas.

On the other hand, to allow the Western media to expand its media activities inside North Korea and to try to gradually change the image that the Western media propaganda has presented of this country so far.

Action      planNorth Korea     America    ChinaSouth Korea
          DefensiveElimination of nuclear weapons   Reduction of nuclear reserves   Admission of international inspectors   Reduction of conventional military powerReduce military maneuvers       Decreased military power on the peninsula   Reduce military maneuvers           Decreased military power on the peninsula  
        DiplomacyEstablish a representative office   Declaration of the end of the war  Establish a representative office   Declaration of the end of the war    
  Economic Relief of Security Council sanctionsSpecial Economic Zone on the border between the two KoreasSpecial Economic Zone on the border between the two Koreas
Public Diplomacy  Cultural and sports exchanges   Joint media campaignCultural and sports exchanges   Joint media campaign Cultural and sports exchanges   Joint media campaign

Rand experts conducted an elite statistical study to find out how much resistance or maximum consensus each of the above measures would provoke within those countries. By setting 75% as the consensus quorum for the implementation of an action, the result is that the following actions will face serious internal opposition in the designated states, but other actions will be easier to implement.

    Action North Korea     America     ChinaSouth Korea
Issuance of declaration of end of war              l                                          l               l
Reopening of representative offices             l               l
Export of knowledge and technology to North Korea                    l                  l 
Decreased military power on the peninsula                    l  
Imports of coal and metals from North Korea                  l  
Exports of oil, luxury goods and capital to North Korea                            l  

At the end of the evaluation of this action plan, the United States is recognized as the observer of the actions of North Korea and the guarantor of the actions of South Korea and China as the observer of the actions of the other three actors and the guarantor of the actions of North Korea.

“”The experience of US liabilities in bilateral or multilateral agreements, as evidenced by the withdrawal from the UN Security Council and other treaties, will reduce the likelihood that Pyongyang rulers will be appealed to””

Conclusion

The authors have tried to come up with an action plan that is as appealing to North Korean Communist Party agents as possible and persuades them to take action. However, the accuracy of the agenda of the negotiations shows that almost all the actions of the United States, South Korea and China are reversible. But eliminating weapons and reducing nuclear stockpiles for North Korea is irreversible, at least in the short term.

In fact, North Korea will be forced to accept a deal that is practically superior to that of the United States and its Western allies, and will have to give up some of its most important security components in exchange for economic and livelihood improvements. However, the reduction of maneuvers or the reduction of US and South Korean troops on the peninsula is easily reversible.

This, along with the experience of US liabilities in bilateral or multilateral agreements, as evidenced by the withdrawal from the UN Security Council and other treaties, will reduce the likelihood of Pyongyang’s rulers appealing. However, this report is more realistic in that it seeks to be more realistic than the neo-conservative faction in the United States, which seeks to overthrow the North Korean government or shut down its nuclear industry altogether.

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