U.S Options On North Korea. And What It Would Take To Change The Chinese Calculus On The North Korean Nuclear Weapons Program — As Stated By Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia, Asia Society Policy Institute President; and currently a member of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s Group of Eminent Persons was interviewed on CNBC’s Squawk Box this morning, September 6, 2017 regarding U.S. options on North Korea and what it would take to change the Chinese calculus with respect to the North Korean nuclear program.
Former Prime Minister (PM) Rudd portrayed the Chinese view of the current situation as: Beijing not wanting a destabilized, uncertain neighbor — which would result if America took out the Kim regime — versus a nuclear North Korea, which is primarily an American problem. “That’s the basic Chinese calculus,” PM Rudd said. “Unless you can change that calculus,” getting buy-in from China on the North Korean nuclear issue isn’t likely to change,” he added. This stalemate between the West (primarily South Korea, Japan, and the U.S.) and China is likely to result in North Korea soon obtaining an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
“When asked if there is a way to change the Chinese calculus,” PM Rudd said “yes.” But, he emphasized that in order for that to happen, any discussions with China have to be much broader than the “narrow focus on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.” — a Grand Bargain.
The real key for China, he told CNBC, is — “What is the future of the Korean peninsula? That’s what Beijing is deeply concerned about,” he said. “Beijing does not want the possibility of a unified Korean peninsula, with a pro-American state; and, the possibility of American military forces close to or, within reach of the Yalu River and the Chinese border. This has been an abiding factor in Chinese strategic thinking since 1949, and for centuries before” he told CNBC. “So, unless you develop a Grand Bargain — which deals with that overarching issue,” America will not get China’s buy-in. “We do not want American military forces on our doorstep,” is part of Beijing’s strategic calculus he said.
So, how do we get China’s buy-in? PM Rudd said “it requires a President-to-President conversation,” which begins with POTUS Trump saying something along the lines of– “okay, let’s park the North Korean nuclear weapons issue here for a second; and, ask China what do you really need, in order to help us? According to PM Rudd, the Chinese would say, “Okay, here’s our list of five [though PM Rudd only references four, which is what I think he meant to say],” big issues, or ‘long poles in the tent,’ as we used to say at the Pentagon: 1) You [the U.S.] are at a permanent state of hostilities with North Korea, how about we convert the Armistice of 1953 into a Peace Treaty; 2) How about you America — diplomatically recognize the existence of the North Korean [Kim family] regime; 3) Why don’t you America, we/China, and possibly the Russians, provide an external security guarantee for the future of this regime and the North Korean state into the future — that is, we [China] will actually sign a treaty to that effect; and finally, 4) China hates the fact that there are U.S. military forces South of the 38th Parallel, it just gives them the permanent jitters,” PM Rudd said. “Therefore, if you [America] are deeply concerned, fundamentally concerned that North Korea must not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapons arsenal with an ICBM component, then the U.S. should agree to scheduled/phased withdrawal of U.S. military forces from South Korea — in exchange for a verification regime, which the U.S. approves of, that ensures that the North Korean nuclear program is not only stopped — but gone.”
When one of the CNBC Squawk Box commentator’s said “there is no way this is going to happen from the U.S. side,” PM Rudd replied that “these things have been rolled up once or twice before over the last twenty years; and, don’t think that it is beyond the policy realm,” that the U.S. might consider these positions as a negotiating starting point. Otherwise, a unilateral American military strike on North Korea’s nuclear weapons infrastructure is what your’re left with, PM Rudd said. That, or the U.S. accepts a nuclear weapons/ICBM capable North Korea.
But, PM Rudd was emphatic that “China will not deal within the narrow parameters of the North Korean nuclear weapons issue — unless it is part of the broader equation,” as outlined above.
We, more often than not, do not try and fully appreciate/understand how the adversary views a gnarly issue that is vitally important to us. PM Rudd, if nothing else, outlined the key issues from Beijing’s perspective. V/R, RCP, fortunascorner.com