Political and foreign correspondent Stan Grant writes that claims that North Korea is unpredictable are wrong.
I have lost count of how many times this week I have heard or read analysts – and indeed government ministers – describe North Korea as “unpredictable”. It is a cliche, it is simplistic and it is wrong.
Nearly two decades of covering the goings-on inside the ‘hermit kingdom’ – both outside and inside the country – has taught me that the Kim regime is dangerous, brutal and petulant but if anything, predictable.
Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions reach back to the 1960s, but accelerated in the ’80s. It has conducted at least five nuclear tests, the most recent just last year, raising speculation – widely discounted – that North Korea has developed a hydrogen bomb, much more powerful than conventional atomic bombs.
According to various estimates, it has a stockpile of at least 10 and perhaps as many as 20 nuclear weapons. What it needs is the capacity to deliver them. It is working on that, developing missiles that could reach Australia or the continental United States.
Many will see that as dangerous. But so far in the nuclear age no country has used nuclear weapons to launch a new attack on another country.
None of that is unpredictable. It is calculated and it is aimed at one thing – regime survival.
Victor Cha, long-time North Korea watcher, American academic and author of The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future, once revealed that in nuclear negotiations with the United States and other parties in 2005, a Pyongyang envoy candidly said:
“The reason you attacked Afghanistan is because they don’t have nukes. And look at what happened to Libya. That is why we will never give up ours.”
This was a telling glimpse into the mind of a country that believes it is under siege.
North Korea isn’t the only country to arm themselves with nuclear weapons to try to protect themselves from attack.
Who is most likely to attack North Korea?
North Korea is ringed by American fire-power. There are as many as 30,000 US troops over the border in South Korea and just this week Washington has ordered its warships into the Korean coast.
North Korea and the US are still technically at war more than 60 years after the armistice. There has never been a peace treaty.
And the US under President Trump has increased it’s threatening language, going as far as saying they are considering a ‘-pre-emptive’ attack on North Korea.
I wouldn’t trust North Korea – especially when put under this much pressure.
But if a nuclear bomb goes off it won’t be just one country that is responsible.
Who is the most unpredictable, Kim or Trump?