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Home / US / Intelligence shows that when Kim Jong-un proposed to Trump with a “love letter,” he had been enhancing his nuclear capabilities.

Intelligence shows that when Kim Jong-un proposed to Trump with a “love letter,” he had been enhancing his nuclear capabilities.

This new work reflects the continuation of the pattern observed by analysts since the first summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un in 2018. Although North Korea does not conduct provocative tests on its most advanced weapon systems, US intelligence officials have never stopped studying them. Said. Indeed, new evidence suggests that Kim Jong Il used this calm by improving his ability to conceal his most powerful weapon and protect it from future attacks.

Although there has not been any substantive progress in achieving the established goal of the United States: the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in exchange for ending the cruel economic sanctions on North Korea, the suspension of the test still brings benefits to the leaders of both sides. Kim Jong Il’s restraint allowed Trump to claim partial foreign policy success, even though government officials admitted that North Korea had not destroyed a bomb or dismantled any of its missile factories.

Current and former U.S. intelligence analysts and nuclear experts said that as far as Kim Jong Il is concerned, the easing of tensions opened up new ways to circumvent sanctions, and Kim Jong Il’s factory quietly produced more nuclear warheads and larger missiles. Carry a nuclear warhead.

“North Korea did not stop manufacturing nuclear weapons or developing missile systems; they just stopped displaying them,”

; said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asian Non-Proliferation Program at the Monterey Non-Proliferation Research Center in California. “They stopped doing what made Trump a cycle of bad news. thing.”

Two years after Trump’s unconventional peace proposal began, the result was North Korea. US officials said that North Korea has better armaments and its nuclear weapons arsenal are continuously spreading in the newly added network of air defense bunkers in response to potential US air strikes. At the same time, Kim Jong Il gained an advantage that other North Korean leaders could not match: a personal friendship with the President of the United States. Trump described Kim Jong Il with admiration and showed off the so-called “love letters” exchanged between the leaders of the two countries. Last month, reporter Bob Woodward revealed the content of dozens of letters in his book “Anger.”

Some experts believe that there are signs that Kim Jong Il has lost patience with diplomacy and may be ready to resume more aggressive behavior, including possible testing or display of new weapons. But many analysts believe that because Kim Jong Il clearly wants to avoid undermining Trump’s re-election opportunity, this provocation will not happen until after November 3.

“In theory, there may be an’unexpected provocation’ in October, but this is not a normal election year,” Sue Mi Terry, a former senior North Korean analyst at the CIA, said in North Korea. The policy forum last week. “From Kim Jong Un’s perspective, he is still more willing to deal with Trump.”

Token gesture

From any objective point of view, the risk of imminent hostilities with North Korea has been reduced since Trump’s controversial decision to engage in personal diplomacy with Kim. In the first few months of Trump’s presidency, North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test, detonating a powerful new weapon considered by experts to be a hydrogen bomb. It also successfully launched two new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles, one of which is believed to be able to reach cities on the east coast of the United States.

At the same time, the diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang became famous. Trump publicly mocked the North Korean leader as “Rocket Man”, while the US President was mocked as “Dado” in the North Korean Official Gazette. Trump admitted in the interview records of Woodward’s book that the two countries narrowly avoided war in 2017, which is closer to the edge than the Americans knew at the time.

Many arms control experts expressed doubts about Trump’s announcement that he would meet with North Korean leaders unconditionally (previously President Republicans and Democrats refused to do so). Obviously, the highly dramatic 2018 Singapore summit was mainly symbolic, because the talks failed to reach a substantive agreement, or even a consensus on the actual meaning of the “denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.

Nevertheless, many critics of the summit would later praise Trump’s team for being willing to try something different.

“We have never tested the negotiation hypothesis-whether it is feasible to discuss the idea of ​​denuclearization directly with leaders,” said Chad, director of Asian affairs at the White House National Security Council during George W. Bush’s administration. )Say. “We have never tried.”

Although the disarmament negotiations quickly reached a deadlock, the easing of tensions was a major and undeniable achievement. Professor John Drewry of Yonsei University in Seoul pointed out that the “strategic patience” doctrine adopted by the Obama administration in the past eight years has not succeeded in slowing down North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and advanced missiles.

“The logic of participating in Kim Jong Un is reasonable, and it is still reasonable,” Drewry said. “Trump can accomplish certain things.”

Although two more summits were held in the coming year, the negotiations on the elimination of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal were merely symbolic gestures. When Trump crossed the South Korean Demilitarized Zone and shook hands with Kim Jim, he attracted attention in the media, but the author of “The Art of Dealing” was unable to persuade Kim Jim to open the weapon bunker for inspection or give up his nuclear weapons, according to the United States. Intelligence officials estimate that this number is between 40 and 60. These officials concluded that Kim Jong Il never intended to give up his arsenal, which the dictator believed was the ultimate guarantee for the survival of his regime.

Drewry said: “There was a willingness to participate at the top, but it has collapsed since then.” “Trump’s political drama is chaotic and distracting, which means it didn’t really create a lasting process.”

Micro nuclear device

However, more than a year after the end of the last summit, North Korea unilaterally frozen nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile tests. Obviously, the leaders of the two countries admire each other. Trump told his followers at a political rally that he and Kim “fall in love” after the first meeting. As Woodward quoted in the book, in Kim Jong-il’s letter to Trump, the linguistic likable hymn made the romantic novelist blush.

In his testimony on December 25, 2018, Jin En wrote: “The moment I firmly hold your Excellency is a moment in history.” Three days later, Trump’s answer was: “The only one who can do this. The leaders are you and me.”

However, North Korea (which has repeatedly cheated on past nuclear agreements) has been avoiding danger. Multiple pieces of intelligence collected by the United States, South Korea, and Japan have confirmed that Kim Jong Il has taken a step towards establishing a reliable nuclear deterrent, including powerful warheads and various advanced missiles to transport them.

Since the Singapore summit, exactly how many new bombs North Korea has made has not been disclosed, but analysts have calculated that the country’s nuclear weapons facilities currently produce enough fissile material each year to hold up to seven new bombs, which means that Kim Jong-il The nuclear stockpile may increase since the leaders of the two countries first met, with approximately 15 warheads.

The team of experts appointed by the United Nations detailed the latest developments in North Korea’s weapons system in a report that compiled intelligence on North Korea provided by many countries, including the United States and South Korea. The pre-publication draft of the report obtained by the Washington Post concluded that North Korea not only continues to manufacture nuclear bombs, but also “may have developed micro-nuclear devices that can be mounted in its ballistic missile warheads.” Two U.S. officials familiar with the results of the investigation said that the report’s conclusions were widely recognized by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The report highlighted the construction boom in North Korea’s six military bases, where North Korea manufactures and tests components for new missiles, describing the “level of activity”. [that] constant. The report said that what is particularly noticeable is the surge in underground construction projects, including new bunkers and tunnels dug under existing bunkers and storage facilities.

The report said: “In some locations, people are working to improve the undetectability and camouflage of existing or recently constructed infrastructure.”

UN experts also pointed out that new or expanded facilities have emerged in North Korea’s uranium processing plants, including a large plant in Pingshan, which refines uranium ore. These improvements can enable Pyongyang to build more nuclear weapons faster.

In addition, the report also enumerated evidence for the possible re-testing of nuclear bombs and advanced missiles in the future. Satellite images show that the new building in the North Korean test base Pengshan is under construction, and North Korea exploded its first nuclear bomb. After the first Trump-Kim Jong-un summit two years ago, North Korean officials destroyed the entrance of the test room in a friendly manner. The preparations for the missile test appear to be carried out at the Sinpo Naval Base, which is a port city on the northeast coast of North Korea and where submarine-launched ballistic missile tests have been conducted in the past.

At the same time, a comprehensive network of North Korean smuggling of weapon parts has been established. According to another analysis by South Korean researchers last month, the Kim Jong Il government successfully imported at least US$30 million worth of prohibited missile components in 2018 alone, the year the ICBM test freeze took effect.

Jin Na, a report author of the Korea National Defense Analysis Institute, a think tank affiliated with the South Korean Ministry of National Defense, said: “Even in the diplomatic wave of 2018, North Korea has never stopped developing military options as a backup.”

Forced disarmament agreement

Trump administration officials say they are fully aware of Kim Jong Il’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons, but they believe that the combination of diplomacy and continued economic pressure will eventually force North Korea to abandon its nuclear arsenal. Some analysts believe that North Korea is waiting for the US presidential election, and Kim Jong-il may be willing to bargain after November 3, depending on the outcome.

The severe economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the United Nations have hit North Korea’s economy. However, the pressure of sanctions has gradually subsided, which is a side effect of the Kim Trump summit. As tensions in the region eased, both China and Russia reduced their enforcement of these restrictions, allowing North Korea to export more coal to foreign markets while providing it with important natural gas and oil supplies.

However, due to issues unrelated to the nuclear weapons crisis, North Korea’s economy is still under severe pressure. After the coronavirus pandemic began, Kim Jong Il closed the border with China and blocked trade with the country’s main trading partners. Due to the historic flooding in the summer, many cities and agricultural provinces have also suffered severe damage.

Some experts believe that extreme financial pressure may eventually force Kim Jong Il to agree to a disarmament agreement. But others pointed out that North Korean leaders have suffered similar pressures in the past, sometimes even allowing their citizens to endure hunger in order to purchase weapons they believe will help them stay in power.

Analysts say that at the same time, neither Kim Jong-il nor Trump will harm their relationships. Strange friendships continue to provide value-temporarily relieve tensions and have the opportunity to stand together as politicians at the focus of international attention-even if the prospect of a nuclear-free North Korea seems to have faded.

Former South Korean national security adviser Chun Rongyu said: “A lot of efforts have been made, but fundamentally, I have not obtained anything.” He participated in the nuclear dialogue with North Korea in the mid-2000s.

“North Korea is more dangerous. It has more nuclear warheads or fissile materials that can produce nuclear weapons.” “At least in this regard, North Korea has a greater ability to disrupt peace on the Korean Peninsula. I will not describe it as any progress.”

Denyer reports from Tokyo.

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