“EYES ONLY” Reassessment of the North Korean Threat President and Vice President of the United States April 14, 2011
THE SCENARIO: Although six-party talks over North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program have been fitfully underway for several years, they have not succeeded in ending the North Korean nuclear program. Nor has the North Korean regime appeared to have changed in any significant way. Indeed, things have taken a downward path, with North Korea going so far as to test a nuclear weapon underground. With the U.S. military heavily committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US President wants to make sure he understands the military stakes if negotiations with North Korea break down completely or an incident takes place that leads to conflict. In particular, he wants to know what would happen if North Korea were to invade South Korea or take other military action, either as a result of a crisis or in response to a U.S. action (e.g., a U.S. attack on North Korea’s nuclear facilities). The President expects a senior SGE’s advisor to brief him on the likely course of a war on the Korean Peninsula and options for political decisions during and after such a conflict. North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities threaten to destabilize further a situation that is already dangerous: North Korea maintains 1.1 million troops stationed along the demilitarized zone (DMZ), possesses artillery and missiles capable of raining down on Seoul, and recently tested a nuclear weapon. Mystery surrounds the North Korean leadership and its intentions. The Swiss Global Economics believe that the President should understand the nature of the war on the Korean peninsula that is a very real possibility, the U.S. commitment by treaty and history to fighting that war, and the risk that such a war could result from a confrontation over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs. SGE’s senior advisor have offered to go to the White House with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to give a sensitive, small-group briefing on the war plan and his assessment of how the war would go, highlighting as well the decision points that the President would face in such a campaign as its Commander in Chief. This is intended to give him background and context in the event of a crisis that might lead to war. Bearing in mind that a North Korean invasion of South Korea is only one scenario the President should be thinking about, so these other scenarios need to be noted in the SGE’s briefing.
Where Are We? 2002 ~2003-05 Feb 2005 May 2005 DPRK conducts first nuclear weapons test • US confronts DPRKon HEU* program • DPRK reactivates Yongbyon Reactor Four rounds of Six-Party Talks DPRK admits possession of nuclear weapons Why DPRK wants nukes? Promote National Interests Why has US policy failed thus far? Vital • Ensure regime survival from US • No obvious strategy • Backseat to Iraq and GWOT • Limited consensus among key allies • Gain respect for DPRK at home and abroad Imp. • Maximize economic and food aid No winning combination Nukes = panacea for DPRK? BACKGROUND * Highly Enriched Uranium
US NATIONAL INTERESTS • Prevent a nuclear attack on regional allies. • Ensure economic stability in East Asia. • Maintain and improve Sino-American relations. • Avert nuclear attack on US homeland from DPRK-launched or DPRK-sold weapons. • Prevent a new nuclear state. Vital Extremely important
THREAT ASSESSMENT Centralized Leadership • Kim Jong Il promotes regime survival over national welfare • Nuclear 4-8 weapons, 1 additional weapon per year • Chemical/Biological Weapons • Unknown stockpile • Ballistic Missiles • 120 short-range (Hwasong-5/6) (340-500 km) 40 medium-range (No-Dong) (1300-1500 km) ? long-range (Taepo-Dong 2) (6000 km) • Conventional Military 1 million-man army Military Capability Threat: North Korea will useor sell its weapons Cash Crop • Sells ballistic missiles • Threatens to sell nukes Regional instability could cause global economic crisis!
OPERATIONAL OBJECTIVES • Short-term (within a year) • Freeze plutonium reprocessing and uranium enrichment • Cease construction of 200 mW and 50mW reactors • Adopt IAEA Additional Protocol • Consensus with allies onacceptable package • Long-term (within 3 + years) • “CVID*” of North’s nuclear program • Improve or remove current regime • Formal peace treaty to supplant1953 cease-fire • Reunified federal Korea * Complete, Verifiable, and Irreversible Dismantlement
DISCUSSION Threat • How imminent is the threat? How dangerous? • How likely is an internal solution? • What diplomatic and economic levers are left? • Is military action inevitable? Better to act now than later? InternalSolution Non-Military means Military means
Carrots Sticks Option #1—Dealing with the Devil • Two Parallel Tracks • Bilateral Talks: U.S. Envoy to Pyongyang with Repackaged Proposal • Concurrent 6-Party Talks: Discuss Implementation of New Proposal Economic • Northeast Asian neighbors and EU halt economic aid • Lift U.S. restrictions on international aid and trade • U.S. offer to buy greater percentage of DPRK exports Diplomatic • U.S. non-aggression pact • Soften rhetoric against DPRK • Remove DPRK from the State Sponsor of Terrorism List • Escalate negative rhetoric Military • Threat of military intervention • Buy DPRK’s missiles
EVALUATION; Option #1—Dealing with the Devil • Two Parallel Tracks • Bilateral Talks: U.S. Envoy to Pyongyang with Repackaged Proposal • Concurrent 6-Party Talks: Discuss Implementation of New Proposal Pros Cons • Repeat of the failed 1994 Agreed Framework? • Rewards nuclear brinkmanship • Potential lack of Congressional and public support • North Korean nukes may be non-negotiable • Engages North directly • Jumpstarts stalled diplomatic process • Quick implementation • Stops the clock on DPRK nukes • US retains control of process
Option #2—Unleash the Dragon Strategy with China: Send Sec. Clinton to Beijing with carrots and sticks FOR China • Goals with China: • China nullifies its security agreement with DPRK • China imposes economic sanctions • China pushes DPRK to suspend nuclear HEU and plutonium reprocessing U.S. Japan Carrots & Sticks China Diplomatic Pressure South Korea North Korea Carrots & Sticks Russia 6-Party Talks
Carrots to China Sticks to China Option #2—Unleash the Dragon • Exclusive contracts to China to supply, reprocess and store nuclear fuel for DPRK’s light water reactors Economic • Press ROK to eliminate tradetariffs on Chinese imports Diplomatic • U.S. openly opposes Taiwanese constitutional amendment establishing sovereignty • U.S. troop reduction in region Military • U.S. looks the other way if Japan develops nukes to equalize DPRK threat • Establish NATO-style Northeast Asia Security Forum with China as prominent member
Carrots to DPRK Sticks to DPRK Option #2—Unleash the Dragon • China and Russia prohibit mono-hull tankers in their ports • China/E.U. impose sanctions • ROK withdraws support for joint economic zones • Expand joint-economic zones • U.S. subsidized “Reunification Reactor” in center of country • U.S. allows DPRK access to aid from IMF/World Bank Economic • U.S. allows other countries toexpand humanitarian & economicassistance to DPRK Diplomatic • U.S. pays DPRK not tobuild and export missiles • Search North Korean ships for missiles under PSI Military • Escalate annual joint U.S./ROK military exercises to include regional naval exercises with allies under auspices of PSI
EVALUATION; Option #2—Unleash the Dragon • The Chinese-centered Solution • Clinton to Beijing with “Carrots & Sticks” Package • Implementation of Package at 6-Party Talks Pros Cons • Multilateral approach to problem • Avoids directly rewarding DPRK for its nuclear brinkmanship • Engages key player, China • Sacrifices other U.S. interests in the region • Requires tricky multilateral cooperation • North Korean nukes may be non-negotiable
Option #3—Thin Red Line • Deploy additional U.S. carrier group to region • Build up American and ROK troop levels on DMZ • Establish embargo • Deploy Predator un-manned drone to attempt assassination of Kim Jong Il and high-level officials • Surgical air-strike on nuclear& military targets • Full-scale invasion, if necessary • Condemns DPRK for nuclear test • Demands CVID under IAEA • “Additional Protocol” • Council reconvenes in 6 monthsto assess progress and compliance • Authorizes immediate use of force if North Korea:1) Fails to suspend nuclear reprocessing &enrichment, or • 2) Obstructs IAEA inspections Resolution in UN Security Council Breach of Agreement
EVALUATION; Option #3—Thin Red Line • UN resolution • Military Intervention Pros Cons • Destroys some or all nuclear weapons • Destroys nuclear production capabilities • Stops the clock on DRPK’s nukes • Greatest likelihood of all-out war and bombing of Seoul/Tokyo • Might incite China to violence or lead to Sino-American Cold War if China won’t come along • Stretches U.S. military too thin?
RECOMMENDATION • OPTION #2 – UNLEASH THE DRAGON • Clinton to Beijing with “Carrots & Sticks” Package • Implementation of Package at 6-Party Talks Rationale • US has limited direct leverage on North Korea. • North Korea is unreceptive to U.S.-led policy. • China has strongest remaining bargaining chip. • US has viable and substantive levers to offer China. Fall Back Option #3 as a last resort.
IMPLEMENTATION May 2005 June 2005 Jan. 2006? ? Diplomacy Phase Evaluation Phase Military Phase Send Sec. Riceto Beijing Today UN Resolution Final Warning China – DPRK Negotiations Evaluation Criteria Intimidation • CVID? • Inspections? • Nuke trafficking? 6-Party Talks ForceEmployment