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Home / World / North Korea did not fire missiles in 2018. But that's not necessarily due to Trump.

North Korea did not fire missiles in 2018. But that's not necessarily due to Trump.

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By Alexander Smith

North Korea did not conduct missile or nuclear tests in 201

8 – an obvious endorsement of President Donald Trump's unconventional foreign policy approach.

However, the president's victory may not have been claimed by the president

Before and after Trump's election and inauguration, North Korea conducted a series of nuclear and missile tests.

The drumbeat reached a climax in 2017, when Kim Jong Uns launched the regime's first ICBM – theoretically capable of hitting the American mainland. He also tested his hitherto most powerful nuclear weapon, which was a miniaturized hydrogen bomb.

The verbal sparring between Trump and Kim escalated and seemed to increase the danger of a devastating war.

Then everything stopped. North Korea carried out its last nuclear test in September 2017 and the last missile launch a month later. Trump has mocked Kim as a "small rocket man" and said he "fell in love" with the young dictator.

"The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in all directions, nuclear tests have stopped," said Trump United Nations General Assembly in September.

The President has pointed out that his strategy to defuse Kim's government works.

However, many experts point out that the conspicuous firing appearances may have stopped, while other more subtle parts of the North Korean weapons program are moving forward. Tests are only part of the story.

"Kim has not changed his policy … but he claims that he has now moved from research and development to mass production," said Cristina Varriale, a research associate at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank.

According to experts and analysis of detailed satellite images, North Korea continues to produce fissile material and develop missile bases throughout the country.

This transition from trial to production should look like that. No wonder – it's exactly what Kim said to the world earlier this year.

In his New Year's speech, Kim claimed that his scientists and engineers completed all the necessary test runs. Well, he said bluntly, "The nuclear weapons research industry and the rocket industry should mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles."

At current production rates, North Korea could have about 100 warheads by 2020 – nearly half of which is UK inventory, according to Robert S. Litwak, vice president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a Washington think tank.

Paul Cheung / NBC News

Apart from the Trump test break, North Korea's statement also notes that it had destroyed its nuclear weapons facility at Punggye-ri.

However, this outline is unconfirmed, reversible and even irrelevant. Experts do not warn about the production of more warheads.

No Pledges Break

North Korea's continued activity is sometimes portrayed as a kind of deception. Even South Korea, however, points out that Kim does not deceive anyone because he made no concrete promises at all.

While Trump and Kim promised to "work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" at their historic summit in June, the joint statement was so vague that it was largely dismissed as almost pointless.

First, the US and North Korea disagree about what "denuclearization" actually means. Instead of a one-way street, the North has suggested that the US remove its troops from the region and withdraw from the nuclear shield that Washington offers to South Korea and Japan.

Hwasong 15 missiles are shown during a military parade on February 8th. KCNA on KNS / AFP – Getty Images File

This ambiguity has led to stalemates over the months, with American and North Korean negotiators insisting that the other offer concessions.

The North Koreans seemed reluctant to deal with Trump's subordinates such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Some believe they would prefer to take advantage of the President's perceived impulsiveness when he conceded to Kim on the ground that he would stop major war games with South Korea and seemingly blind his own military.

In recent weeks The stalled negotiations threatened with another relapse.

In early December, the US imposed more sanctions on North Korea, this time against three senior officials for alleged human rights violations. In response, Pyongyang warned against returning to the "fire changes" of last year.


Trump and his team say they want something that many experts want, and even the CIA believes that it's impossible, as long as Kim is still in the company's power: the most complete, verifiable and irreversible Dismantling of the North Korean nuclear arsenal.

This holy grail of denuclearization even has its own shortcut – CVID.

. Many experts and intelligence officials believe that North Korea will never voluntarily give up its nuclear weapons. This is especially true of those who could beat the US because Kim's regime believes they are the best insurance against invasion.

This fact has led many observers to urge the US to pursue modest short-term goals with the intention of deterring and containing the world's youngest nuclear power.

"Only with this kind of predictable and agreed work rate will each side cease to upset others' intentions," said George Lopez, a former member of the United Nations Panel on North Korean Sanctions.

One man who has already done so is South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Moon says he is also committed to denuclearization. But instead of Trump's zero-sum game, he has welcomed intermediate steps along the way and built up inter-Korean cooperation in business and peace.

President Donald Trump goes with Kim Jong Un during the summit in June in Singapore. Kevin Lim / Reuters File

China has also played its role. The few concessions that North Korea and the US have given up this year look remarkably similar to a suggestion from Beijing that Washington and Pyongyang would "freeze".

This has led to speculation that Kim has entered into a private deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"It's no coincidence that Kim hit Xi three times in no time at all," says Varriale of RUSI.

Trump's role

Although rocket and nuclear testing may not be the decisive turnaround. Trump suggests there are some who give the President some recognition that they have stopped them and brought North Korea to the negotiating table.

Trump has broken the mold in two ways. He seemed more ready than any of his last predecessors to support a devastating war. And he was the first sitting president to personally meet a North Korean ruler.

The North Korean Hwasong-15, which is believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, will be fired successfully in November 2017 near Pyongyang. [19659029] KCNA / Reuters File

"North Korea's leaders did not want their land being bombarded so they stopped testing," says Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in South Korea-North Korea's momentum – at least temporarily – to relieve tensions and create room for diplomacy with both the US and South Korea, "said David Wright, co-director of the Union of Concerned Scientists, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Trump has turned down the temperature the theory, but only because he was willing to bring the temperature to potentially catastrophic boiling points, and Wright says that any goodwill Trump has acquired has been squandered since the summit.

Vipin Narang, Political Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has a different attitude.

He believes that Trump knows that he never wants to denuclearize – and he does not care, that's because the stop But not the actual denuclearization itself is enough to attract Trump to success in North Korea and achieve political success, Narang said.

"Probably Trump expects it as long as the diplomatic process continues" The scrutiny moratorium will also do it, "he said." So he has an incentive to maintain the reality show. "

That could be Kim too While stalled negotiations and suspended tests may help Trump win, North Korea also allows it to build up its arsenal.

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