The peaceful reunification of the peninsula is imperative
By Joseph R. DeTrani
The crucible of the Korean War forged the close allied relationship between the United States and South Korea. North Korea’s invasion of the South on June 25, 1950, and the United States’ entry into the war on June 27, 1950, were three years of living hell, with South Korean casualties of approximately 139,000 dead and 500,000 wounded and United States casualties of 37,000 dead and 103,000 wounded. The Armistice on July 27, 1953, ended this bloody war, but that’s all it did — it stopped the fighting but technically, until there is a peace treaty, the war with North Korea continues.
The U.S.- South Korea relationship is a critically important allied relationship, with over 28,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea and a United States extended nuclear deterrence commitment to our ally in South Korea. But the bilateral relationship is more than a close allied military relationship, given that South Korea, a model liberal democracy that shares our values, is the United States’ second-largest trading partner, with an extant robust Free Trade Agreement and close bilateral relations dating back to the early 20th century.
The goal since the Armistice in 1953 has been the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. All presidents, but especially presidents Kim Dae-jung, Roh Moo-hyun and Moon Jae-in have worked tirelessly to close the chasm with the North and move toward reunification. However, North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons — and its abominable human rights record — has to date made these efforts unsuccessful.
Presently, North Korea has a reported arsenal of 40 to 60 Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranian-based nuclear weapons, with a very sophisticated arsenal of ballistic missiles, including short, medium and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The North’s recent launch of a gigantic Hwasong-17 ICBM was assessed as capable of reaching the whole of the United States. Indeed, the North’s work on submarine-launched and hypersonic missiles is of concern, as are the recent tests of cruise missiles and sophisticated short-range ballistic missiles reportedly capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.
South Korea and the United States continue to work toward convincing North Korea to denuclearize completely and verifiably in exchange for security assurances, the lifting of sanctions and economic development assistance and a path to normal relations, with the expectation that North Korea will make progress on human rights.
There has been some fleeting success with the North: the North-South Agreement of 1992; the Agreed Framework of 1994; the Six-Party Talks Joint Statement of September 2005; the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity, and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula in 2018; the Singapore Joint Statement of 2018 committing North Korea to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula; and the Hanoi Summit of 2019 that was unsuccessful. All these agreements eventually failed because North Korea was and is determined to retain its nuclear weapons.
North Korea’s senior negotiator in 2003, in one of our first meetings of the Six-Party Talks, told me that the United States should accept North Korea as a nuclear weapon state, as we did Pakistan because their nuclear weapons are for deterrence purposes only. I said then and United States — and South Korea — policy continues to be that we will never accept North Korea as a nuclear-weapon state. To do so would result in a nuclear arms race in the region, with other countries seeking nuclear weapons, and the possibility that North Korea could provide a nuclear weapon and/or fissile material for a dirty bomb to a rogue state or terrorist organization.
Despite these setbacks with North Korea, efforts must continue for the denuclearization of the North and eventual reunification of the Korean Peninsula. It is obvious to some of us that Kim Jong-un wants to end North Korea’s isolation and wants to be a member of the international community, with access to financial institutions and not be dependent only on China for its economic and geopolitical future. But Kim wants this on his terms — being accepted as a nuclear weapons state.
To secure peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula is imperative. Also important, however, is to ensure that it is a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The East and South China seas and China’s militarization of the islands and reefs in the South China sea is indeed a potential flash point. And the Shanghai Communique of 1972 and the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 are clear in stating that the future of Taiwan should be resolved by peaceful means. These and other issues will require greater attention.
This is the 50th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s visit to China and meeting with Chair Mao Zedong, which arranged for the normalization of relations in 1979. Currently, there’s over $600 billion of annual trade between the United States and China, with over 300 U.S. companies doing business in China and over 350,000 Chinese students studying in U.S. colleges and universities. Economic decoupling would harm both countries and a new cold war could devastate the region and the world.
The government of President Yoon Suk Yeol and the administration of President Biden are committed to strengthening this close bilateral allied relationship between South Korea and the U.S. This is good not only for our two countries but also for the region and the world.
The challenge for the Yoon administration will be getting traction with North Korea for improved inter-Korean relations. And progress on inter-Korean relations will depend heavily on North Korea’s willingness to meaningfully negotiate with the U.S. and South Korea on complete and verifiable denuclearization. Indeed, without progress on denuclearization and inter-Korean relations, the region will become less stable, with the potential of stumbling into accidental conflict with a North Korea with nuclear weapons.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the tragic war that continues, with the carnage we see each day on the news, should be a wake-up call that alliances to confront aggressors are important and military preparedness for defensive purposes is imperative. The security assurances Russia — and the United States and Great Britain — provided to Ukraine in 1994, with the Budapest Memorandum, in return for Ukraine turning over approximately 1,900 nuclear warheads to Russia, did not prevent Russia from invading Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. Russia’s surprise, however, was that NATO and other countries, including South Korea, came together to support Ukraine, sanctioning Russia and providing Ukraine with the weapons and training necessary for their own defense, which has frustrated Russia’s military onslaught.
So, we must ensure that the U.S. — South Koreaalliance remains strong, with a focus on a strong geopolitical, economic and military relationship.
Concurrently, we should continue to work hard at resuming meaningful negotiations with North Korea, knowing that it will be difficult getting North Korea to denuclearize completely and verifiably, especially after Russia’s invasion of a Ukraine that gave up its nuclear weapons for security assurances. That means we will have to work harder to establish trust with North Koreain our effort to convince Mr. Kim that North Korea will be more secure and more economically prosperous without nuclear weapons and with normal relations with the U.S. and South Korea and the international community. This will take time, patience and creativity. It’s something we must do.
• Joseph R. DeTrani is the former director of the National Counterproliferation Center and the special envoy for negotiations with North Korea. The views are the author’s and not any government agency or department.
It has been reported that firestorms would release soot and smoke into the upper atmosphere that would block out the Sun, resulting in crop failure around the world.
In the first month following explosions, average global temperatures would plunge by about 13 degrees Fahrenheit which is more than during the most recent Ice Age.
The Ice Age ended 11,700 years ago and lasted more than 100,000 years, making the world about 10 degrees Fahrenheit colder than today.
Lead author Dr Cheryl Harrison, of Louisiana State University, said: “It doesn’t matter who is bombing whom. It can be India and Pakistan or NATO and Russia.
“Once the smoke is released into the upper atmosphere, it spreads globally and affects everyone.”
Russian Defence Ministry on April 20, 2022 shows the launching of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile(Russian Defence Ministry/AFP via)
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought the threat to the fore. The study is based on multiple regional and large-scale computer simulations.
Firestorms would block out the sun, ocean temperatures would drop and sea ice would expand, blocking major ports such as China’s Tianjin Study comes after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warning of a ‘serious’ risk of nuclear war
Bloomberg9:37pm, 7 Jul, 2022
A fresh study on the global impact of a nuclear war has concluded that any conflict would plunge the world into darkness, cause temperatures to plummet and wipe out much of the world’s sea life.
Researchers at Louisiana State University ran multiple computer simulations to assess the impact of global and regional nuclear conflicts on the world’s oceans. They found that in all scenarios, firestorms would release soot and smoke into the upper atmosphere, blocking out the sun and forcing temperatures to fall by an average 13 degrees Fahrenheit in the first month.
That, in turn, would cause ocean temperatures to fall and sea ice to expand by more than six million square miles, blocking major ports including China’s Tianjin, Copenhagen and St Petersburg. Researchers said changes to Arctic sea ice would likely last thousands of years, describing the event as a “nuclear little ice age.”
The study comes after the spectre of nuclear war was raised following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warning in April that there was a “serious” risk of nuclear war.
Lead author, assistant professor Cheryl Harrison, said: “It does not matter who is bombing whom. It can be India and Pakistan or Nato and Russia. Once the smoke is released into the upper atmosphere it spreads globally and affects everyone.”
The simulations examined what would happen to the Earth if the US and Russia dropped 4,400 100-kiloton bombs on cities and industrial areas, and, separately, if 500 of the same-sized weapons were detonated in an India-Pakistan conflict.
In the largest scenario, ocean recovery would likely take decades at the surface, and hundreds of years at depth.
Yesterday, 10:00 PM
Location: Old Mother Idaho
The 3 nations have all followed different paths.
Russia concentrated on nuclear weapons and prepared for large battles to be fought in the open terrain of the steppes. They followed a defensive strategy, to make Russia too strong to invade.
The USA concentrated less on nuclear weaponry, and more on nuclear power, added great depth to our air, sea and land forces, and after WWII, have concentrated on a power forward aggressive strategy, taking the battle to the enemy first.
The Chinese are playing catch-up, developing both an aggressive, forward strategy and a defensive strategy that doesn’t depend on enormous human numbers.
The United States concentrates on weaponry that is reliable and effective. That means some of our best weapons aren’t the most advanced in terms of new technology, but are older designs at their peak of effectiveness through steady refinement, often under actual battle conditions.
Advanced weaponry such as hypersonic missiles are often much more show than go. They sound threatening, but every super-weapon ever made has always been countered with an adequate defense against it.
The more complicated a weapon’s technology becomes, the more hidden vulnerabilities it has to something that’s older and simpler.
We learned that lesson very vividly a few years ago. The Swedish Navy is tiny, befitting the small size of the nation. Sweden is too small to afford a large Navy, but the Swedes are fully savvy to modern technology and they have good engineers that know how to make good weapons.
Submarines are best-buys for small Navies. Since the Swedes can’t afford a nuclear navy, they concentrated on designing a diesel-powered sub that has a completely new engine design that makes the sub both silent and able to renew its air supply internally.
A few years ago, the sub was tried out in a NATO exercise agains our most advanced battle carrier group. The aircraft carrier was our newest, and it was protected in 3D, with aircraft above, advanced surface battle ships- a new cruiser, several new destroyers, and other vessels, and 2 hunter-killer submarines below.
The Swedish Captain was a lady, the engineer who designed the sub’s engine. She was able to penetrate the carrier’s defenses and surfaced so close to the carrier it could have been struck by a thrown rock. Using old technology that had overlooked capabilities.
It’s apparent now that asymmetric warfare is the most potent threat to our national security. It’s never the latest weapons that win today’s wars; its the weaponry that is the most dependable and the easiest to use
July 7, 2022
Cairo, 3 May 2011
Under the auspices of Egypt, delegations from the Fatah and Hamas movements met in Cairo on
April 27, 2011 to discuss the issues concerning ending the political division and the achievement
of national unity. On top of the issues were some reservations related to the Palestinian National
Unity Accord made in 2009.
Both political parties mutually agreed that the basis of understanding made during the meeting are committing to both parties in the implementation of the Palestinian National Reconciliation
The basis of understanding agreed upon by Fatah and Hamas are as follows:
A. Election Committee:
Both Fatah and Hamas agree to identify the names of the members of the Central Election
Commission in agreement with the Palestinian factions. This list will then be submitted to the
Palestinian President who will issue a decree of the reformation of the committee.
B. Electoral Court:
Both Fatah and Hamas agree on the nomination of no more than twelve judges to be members of
the Electoral Court. This list will then be submitted to the Palestinian President in order to take
the necessary legal actions to form the Electoral Court in agreement with the Palestinian factions.
C. Timing of Elections:
The Legislative, Presidential, and the Palestinian National Council elections will be conducted at
the same time exactly one year after the signing of the Palestinian National Reconciliation
2. Palestine Liberation Organization
The political parties of both Fatah and Hamas agree that the tasks and decisions of the
provisional interim leadership cannot be hindered or obstructed, but in a manner that is not
conflicting with the authorities of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation
It was emphasized that the formation of the Higher Security Committee which will be formed by
a decree of the Palestinian President and will consist of professional officers in consensus.
A. Formation of the Government:
Both Fatah and Hamas agree to form a Palestinian government and to appoint the Prime Minister
and Ministers in consensus between them.
B. Functions of the Government:
1. Preparation of necessary condition for the conduction of Presidential, Legislative and the
Palestinian National Council elections.
2. Supervising and addressing the prevalent issues regarding the internal Palestinian
reconciliation resulting from the state of division.
3. Follow-up of the reconstruction operations in the Gaza Strip and the efforts to end the siege
and blockade that is imposed on it.
4. Continuation of the implementation of the provisions of the Palestinian National Accord.
5. To resolve the civil and administrative problems that resulted from the division.
6. Unification of the Palestinian National Authority institutions in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and
7. To fix the status of the associations, Non-Governmental Organizations and charities.
5. Legislative Council:
Both Fatah and Hamas agree to reactivate the Palestinian Legislative Council in accordance to the Basic Law.
Source: As Published by The Palestinian National Initiative, Translated by Al Mubadara,
Muqtada al-Sadr’s exit from Iraq’s political process seems to be a huge political miscalculation, but there is still a tough road ahead for government formation despite the change in the political map.
Jul 6, 2022
On June 23, 64 new members of parliament took their oaths, replacing most of the 73 members whom Shia populist leader Muqtada al-Sadr called on to resign from the Iraqi Parliament earlier in the month. The unprecedented, but swift, move could upset the electoral map in favor of Sadr’s rival – the Coordination Framework.
The withdrawal came after the Sadr-led National Salvation Coalition, which included the Kurdistan Democratic Party (led by Masoud Barzani) and Sunni Sovereignty bloc (led by Speaker of the Parliament Mohammed Halbousi and businessman Khamis al-Khanjar), over the course of many months, failed to form a majoritarian government. The mass resignation was followed by a June 15 meeting between the resigning members of parliament and Sadr. Sadr reiterated that he decided to withdraw from the political process because he did not want to participate in a government in which “corrupters” (implying the Coordination Framework) take part. Sadr vowed, “If the corrupt participate in the upcoming elections, I will not participate in them,” referencing future elections. But he also did not rule out a return, emphasizing the divine role in changing his mind regarding participation in future elections. Therefore, he asked his supporters who resigned to stay together and be ready, a statement that could foreshadow Sadr’s next move in the Iraqi political landscape. But Sadr’s withdrawal could end up being a huge political miscalculation locking in a loss for Sadr and his Kurdish and Sunni allies that only strengthens his rivals’ position to form the next government.
Militia groups associated with political forces that eventually came together in the Coordination Framework have used violence to break up demonstrations over the last three years, killing 600 protesters and wounding thousands of others. With oil hovering around $100 per barrel, if the Coordination Framework forms the next government, as seems more and more likely with Sadr’s withdrawal, it will have greater resources to extend the state’s financial benefits to disgruntled people as appeasement and more power and leverage over the state institutions to control the protests. In the meantime, Sadr could end up kept away from the pie of the government, where, traditionally, leaders in political parties controlling the government have been able to distribute economic and political benefits to their supporters through a sophisticated network of patronage. Despite his anti-corruption rhetoric, also sprinkled with skepticism about his Shia rivals’ calls for a government of national unity and preservation of the post-2003 sectarian-based Muhasasa political compact, Sadr has operated within and benefitted politically and economically from the ethno-sectarian political system established after the U.S.-led invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government. In successive governments since, close associates of Sadr have taken important ministerial portfolios, which has helped consolidate and sustain his patronage network and increase his political influence. Should he remain outside of the government, social programs Sadr has established in impoverished Shia-dominated areas of Iraq – and his powerful patronage networks – will suffer.
Political deadlock has been common in Iraq since 2003. In 2010, it took 289 days to negotiate a new government under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at the outset of his second term. This time, the process has stalled over the inability to elect a new president, an important constitutional step to pave the way for government formation negotiations. Sadr had initial success in February with the election of the speaker of parliament, Mohammed Halbousi. However, the intra-Kurdish rivalry over the presidency between the Kurdistan Democratic Party, an ally of Sadr, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which has sided with the Coordination Framework, prevented Sadr from forming the majoritarian government he sought once the scope of his October 2021 electoral victory became clear to him.
Sadr did try to rally other members of parliament, including independents, at least four times in a bid to meet the quorum to break the political gridlock. Sadr’s unrealistic and inflexible “all-or-nothing” approach to negotiations likely contributed to the collapse of the political process. He sought to sideline his Shia rivals and refused to embrace the independent members of parliament who were a product of anti-government protests that began in October 2019. Like Sadr, the independents also ran on a reformist and anti-corruption platform, but he failed to find common cause with them and convince them to join his coalition – possibly because they remembered Sadrist forces played a key role in undermining and suppressing the protest movement – or at least to attend the parliament session to meet quorum for a vote on the president. Instead, Sadr set inflexible terms for the independent members of parliament. For example, on May 5, Sadr called on them to form an alliance with at least 40 members of parliament within 15 days to seek to form the government with his support. If Sadr had chosen a more constructive and engaging method to communicate and negotiate with these members of parliament, he perhaps could have succeeded at least in overcoming the quorum issue, which has prevented the formation of his majoritarian government.
There are also inherent tensions between Sadr’s quest for increasing his political relevance and power and what seems to be his aspiration to become a prominent Shia marja, in the future. As a religious leader, Sadr seemingly feels a moral responsibility to use his religious credentials to remain a political force in Iraq, but he also understands that politics, with its inherent negotiations and compromises, could undermine his religious credibility not just in Iraq but in the broader Shia community in the region and beyond, where current leader Sistani as well as previous religious leaders from Najaf have been extremely influential. His recent political moves seem to indicate his longer-term religious aspirations have defined and constrained his political moves and the zone of negotiations with his rivals. In the last eight months, he has avoided damaging his religious brand in his efforts to form a majoritarian government. As such, Sadr’s aspirations as a religious figure seem to have superseded his short-term political goals. Accordingly, Sadr might have calculated that with his withdrawal he can bolster both his political and religious credentials in the long term as a figure who refuses to ally with people whom he thinks are responsible for the country’s political, economic, and security crises.
Trouble for Former Sadr Allies
Since Sadr seems to have given primacy to his over-the-horizon religious goals, political alliances with the mercurial Shia leader have become unpredictable and impractical, damaging the fortunes of his former allies. The Sadr exit put an end to the Homeland Salvation Coalition – Sadr’s alliance with the KDP and the Halbousi-led Sunni Sovereignty bloc, which are paying dearly now for having relied on Sadr to deliver political results for them in the next government. The KDP, which had eyed the Iraqi presidency, believed that Sadr would deliver that to them in the same way he delivered the speaker of parliament to the Sunnis. Now, the possibility of a KDP candidate winning the presidency has become quite remote, while Halbousi has seemed to recognize the new reality by playing along with his former rival – the Coordination Framework.
The KDP and the Sunnis appear to have adjusted their postures to deal with the Coordination Framework and took part in the session in which the new members of parliament took their oaths. The KDP has also reshuffled its negotiation team in Baghdad, with Minister of Foreign Affairs Fuad Hussein and former Minister of Housing and Reconstruction Bangin Rekani taking over, and has expressed readiness to hold talks with the Coordination Framework. Rekani said that his party was present in the Iraqi political arena for negotiations and did not pose threats to anyone. Rekani’s statement, attempting to highlight the KDP’s pragmatism, also signaled its precarious position and its scramble for political traction with now-empowered Maliki-led rivals in Baghdad it previously considered as subdued.
For his part, Halbousi also has concerns, even if they are not immediate. For months, the Coordination Framework has worked with and courted Halbousi’s Sunni rivals. For example, the Coordination Framework used allies in the current government to have terrorism charges against powerful Dulaim tribe chief Ali Hatam Suleiman suddenly dropped, paving the way for him to return to Iraq. Former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, wielding accusations of collaboration with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, forced Suleiman to flee Iraq in 2014. So, Halbousi will likely be under more pressure to negotiate with the Coordination Framework to form the next government quickly as he may not remain speaker if there is a snap election or if Coordination Framework negotiations with the Sunnis head in unpredictable directions. The Sunni front could become more fragmented with the participation of Suleiman, who could chip away at the number of seats Halbousi’s party currently holds.
Coordination Framework Moves
After Sadr’s withdrawal, the Coordination Framework held a meeting noting that it would respect Sadr’s decision while reaffirming its efforts to form a broad-based government through the inclusion of other parties to “fulfill the aspirations of our people in security, stability and a good life and strengthening Iraq’s role and position in the region and the world.” On June 22, the Coordination Framework’s legislative efforts helped replace most of the members of parliament who had resigned with candidates who had come in second in their districts in the October 2021 parliamentary elections. There are still nine vacant seats because some of those candidates did not show up to take their oaths, seemingly as they were ideologically and politically close to Sadr. Therefore, those who came in third could take the oath in the next session in July. But at this stage, the Fatah Coalition, led by Popular Mobilization Forces commander Hadi al-Amiri, has increased its seats from 17 to 29, Maliki’s State of Law Party went from 33 to 37, and the National Power of the State bloc, led by former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Wisdom Movement leader Ammar al-Hakim, has increased its seats from 4 to 11. Accordingly, the Coordination Framework has become the biggest parliamentary bloc with 130 members of parliament, although inside that alliance, strong second-place showings seem to have strengthened the hand of some of Maliki’s Shia rivals at his expense. But the final numbers have yet to be certified by the Parliament. The increased number of seats will give the Coordination Framework a stronger mandate to form the next government. Thus, the government formation process momentum could pick up unless thwarted by internal conflict within the Coordination Framework regarding who might lead the next government as prime minister, which is, predictably, already causing heightened tensions.
Maliki reportedly seeks a third term as prime minister; however, there is no consensus within the Coordination Framework. Such reports triggered Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who has been largely silent regarding political developments in Iraq for the last two years, to express concerns about the possibility of Maliki’s candidacy. Sistani representative Ahmed al-Safi warned that the marjiyya, or religious establishment, is still not happy with those who “caused the loss of one-third of Iraq to the hands of the terrorist organization ISIS and those who led the country to this blockage.” Although Safi did not mention Maliki by name, his references described the former prime minister, whose tenure was marked by Iraq’s decent into sectarian conflict, instability, and the fall of Mosul in 2014. This lack of support by Iraq’s supreme religious authority is good news for the KDP, which has been anti-Maliki for his breach of agreements with the Kurds and withholding funds allocated in the federal budget from the Kurdistan Regional Government, and for the Sunnis as well, who suffered most during Maliki’s terms due to his sectarian policies, which are thought to have helped facilitate the rise of ISIL in 2013. According to some media reports, KDP leader Masoud Barzani informed the Coordination Framework that he would only negotiate if Maliki is out of the picture for the role of prime minister. Should the Coordination Framework nominate Maliki, the KDP and Halbousi’s Sunni forces could boycott the political process in Baghdad continuing to prolong the government formation process.
Sadr’s exit from the political process appears to be a grave political miscalculation that will play into the hands of his rivals to form the next government. But that does not mean an easy path forward on government formation, as many internal and external factors still hold the political process hostage. If formed, the new government will likely reflect not just the ethno-sectarian features of the past, but also deep partisanship, which will negatively affect governance and risk greater corruption, which, taken together with a potential decline in oil prices, could worsen service delivery and living conditions for Iraqis. Sadr’s options will be limited, and his maneuverability, if not well calculated and defined, could severely increase divisions and heighten instability. Having given up his movement’s seats in Parliament, it is not clear how Sadr could reverse course in the foreseeable future. What is certain is that, if he remains out of politics, his movement will be deprived of the financial benefits of the state, which could weaken his popular social programs in the poor Shia neighborhoods that make up the majority of Sadr’s most fervent supporters. As a result, this could weaken Sadr’s popular base, especially among the younger generation in future elections