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World Why North Korea Might Wait Things Out With U.S.

21:15  15 december  2019
21:15  15 december  2019 Source:   online.wsj.com

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a man wearing a suit and tie© kevin lamarque/Reuters

SEOUL—At February’s nuclear summit in Vietnam, President Trump was applauded by Washington for walking away from the table instead of taking a bad deal. But now, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might be the one prepared to wait.

Pyongyang has kept its economy afloat by sidestepping sanctions, using its local resources more efficiently and finding alternative ways to generate foreign cash.

In an effort to keep pressure on the U.S., North Korea has warned of making a perilous shift to its approach next year, when Mr. Trump will be facing re-election. On Friday, Pyongyang conducted a second significant test in a week at a satellite-launch facility, behavior that military experts believe could portend a long-range weapon launch.

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One senior official warned in state media recently that the Trump administration’s next move will determine “what Christmas gift it will select.” The country’s U.N. ambassador said denuclearization was off the negotiating table earlier this month.

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“I don’t think North Korea is under any pressure. They’re not in a rush for a deal,” said Robert Carlin, a former U.S. intelligence analyst who has been involved in prior negotiations with North Korea. “I’ve never seen these guys panic.”

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Pyongyang hasn’t tested long-range or nuclear missiles in more than two years, a development that the Trump administration says is proof its diplomatic approach is working.

The North has given the U.S. until the end of the year to bring a more appealing offer. In an April policy speech, Mr. Kim warned that the U.S. would face the prospect of a “gloomy and very dangerous” outcome if the Trump administration didn’t change its negotiating stance.

The North has upped its brinkmanship this month. The Friday test was Pyongyang’s second in a week at its Sohae facility, a site where it has previously launched satellites into orbit. The test on Dec. 7 was likely of a rocket engine that could be used for a long-range weapon, military experts said.

After the North’s test last weekend became public, Mr. Trump tweeted that Mr. Kim could lose everything by choosing hostility. It prompted a Wednesday retort by a senior Pyongyang official: “We have nothing more to lose,” the official was quoted as saying in state media.

U.S. envoy arrives in South Korea as Pyongyang ramps up pressure

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Denuclearization talks haven’t made discernible progress after February’s summit between Messrs. Trump and Kim ended without a deal. The two leaders met again in June at Korea’s demilitarized zone, promising to revive negotiations. But since then, the U.S. and North Korea have convened just once in October, when Pyongyang broke off talks and said it wouldn’t continue them unless Washington makes a significant concession.

Pyongyang, which has unleashed more than a dozen weapons tests this year, has subsequently accused Washington of stalling. The U.S. has said it is prepared to be flexible in disarmament talks if the North avoids provocations and takes concrete steps toward a deal.

With just weeks before the year-end deadline, Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea and Mr. Trump’s nominee as the No. 2 State Department official, arrives in Seoul for a multiday visit starting Sunday. He is scheduled to meet with Seoul officials to discuss North Korea.

Pyongyang, seeking leverage in talks, often makes exaggerated threats against Washington and sets arbitrary deadlines. But the North’s dialed-up rhetoric of late may have less to do with desperation than trying to put the blame for inaction on the U.S., security experts said.

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“We are done with negotiations for the time being,” said Joshua Pollack, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Washington. “The North Koreans have been on a public diplomacy play to prepare, especially the Chinese and Russians, for what’s coming next.”

North Korea said it would hold a plenary session later this month of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, its national ruling party. Some close Pyongyang watchers believe Mr. Kim could use that meeting—or his annual Jan. 1 speech—to articulate what his country’s new path might entail.

Pyongyang is applying pressure before the year-end deadline in hopes Mr. Trump will lower the asking price for sanctions relief, security experts said.

“Kim’s likely thinking he’ll continue to tighten the vise to see if Washington will eventually crack on its own,” said Soo Kim, a North Korean expert at Rand Corp., the policy think tank, and a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst.

But the North Korean leader doesn’t have an infinite amount of time, either. Mr. Kim has promised his country an economic turnaround that can’t occur while sanctions remain in place.

Pyongyang appears to be betting that Mr. Trump would like to avoid a North Korean confrontation while campaigning for a second term in the White House, said Kim Sung-han, a former South Korean vice minister of foreign affairs and now a graduate-school dean at Korea University.

“Kim keeps sending a message that he is ready to mess up with Trump’s path to re-election by resuming long-range missile and nuclear tests after the deadline,” Prof. Kim said.

Write to Timothy W. Martin at timothy.martin@wsj.com

N. Korea warns U.S. could 'pay dearly' for human rights criticism - KCNA .
NORTHKOREA-USA/RIGHTS (URGENT):N.Korea warns U.S. could 'pay dearly' for human rights criticism - KCNAThe KCNA statement, attributed to a foreign ministry spokesperson, warned that if the United States tried to take issue with the North's system of government by citing human rights problems, it would "pay dearly".

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