Administrative areas and major cities of North Korea

However, it is highly unlikely that Kim Jong-un's strategy was directed at denuclearization and the abandonment of nuclear weapons from the outset. He would have aimed for recognition by the United States as a nuclear power and for nuclear disarmament negotiations on an equal footing. North Korea has now probably given up on recognition as a nuclear power. It would appear that North Korea has decided that it had no choice but to move toward denuclearization in order to engage in dialogue.

So, will North Korea eventually give up its nuclear weapons? I would like to briefly share my thoughts on the matter.

I think the Kim Jong-un regime is likely to make substantial moves toward the abandonment of nuclear weapons and missiles. It will not be possible to fully meet the criteria of "complete, irrevocable, and verifiable" denuclearization, as it would be impossible to delete the blueprints and experiment data or to find the nuclear materials if they were to be hidden. However, it is highly possible that Kim Jong-un will accept the level of nuclear weapons abandonment proposed by China and the U.S.

The first piece of evidence is the impact of the economic sanctions that have been mentioned so far.

The ultimate goal of North Korea is to perpetuate the rule of the Kim family. This is stated below in the Ten Principles for the Establishment of the Party’s One Ideology System, which is the highest doctrine in North Korea that supersedes both the Constitution and the Labor Party Code.

"We must preserve the traditions of the Party and of revolution through the Baekdu bloodline, and adhere to and forever succeed and develop the glorious revolutionary tradition of Juche.”

The reason Kim Jong-il launched the development of nuclear weapons and missiles in full swing in the 1990s was to solidify such perpetuation of the Kim family rule. With the end of the Cold War, North Korea lost military protection from the USSR and China. Meanwhile, South Korea underwent rapid development, whereas the North experienced deepened social unrest, and so with a sense of urgency, North Korea began the development of nuclear weapons as a mid- to long-term survival strategy. Kim Jong-un hurried to complete the weapons. However, the result was an unprecedented level of sanctions. It was evident that nuclear development and economic growth could not be achieved simultaneously.

If North Korea clings to its nuclear program and China and the U.S continue to apply strong pressure, the existence of the North Korean regime may be jeopardized. I believe North Korea chose to give up its nuclear weapons — the justification being the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula — and head in a direction where the security of the Kim dynasty and economic benefits could both be guaranteed. I also think the Moon Jae-in administration skillfully guided Kim Jong-un in that direction. It is hard to make predictions at this point, but it can be said that the progress we have seen so far has been the result of 'dialogue and pressure'. Part 1 >>>

Editor’s notes on North Korean reporters

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