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2017年的朝鲜半岛核问题形势及中国应对之道(中英修订版)




 引言:2017年12月1日,盘古智库提前发布《2017年的朝鲜半岛核问题形势及中国应对之道》报告(精编版)。本报告详版系中国社会科学院地区安全研究中心资助项目、国际战略研究丛书《中国周边安全形势评估(2017)》约稿之一,由盘古智库高级研究员、《世界知识》杂志编辑安刚撰写,完成于2017年11月30日,该书将由社会科学文献出版社于2018年初出版。

 

现根据最新形势修订后正式发布中英文学术注释版。

 

  

 

盘古智库报告

2017年的朝鲜半岛核问题形势及中国应对之道

(修订版)
 

 

 

编者按

 

 

 

2017年,朝鲜半岛核问题呈现不断趋紧的态势。一方面,朝鲜拥核意志与行动更加坚定,进行第六次核试验,其弹道导弹试射行为更近乎恣意,核武装能力得到快速提升,动摇国际核不扩散体系,引发国际社会更严厉制裁。另一方面,美国特朗普政府不断加大对朝施压制裁力度,会同韩国、日本等盟友接连释放武力威吓信号,拒绝与朝坐下来谈判,加剧半岛紧张局势螺旋升级。总体来看,朝核问题已经升级为亚太地区最具失控危险的安全热点,朝鲜半岛再次站到战与和的十字路口。中国虽不掌握解决朝核问题的钥匙,但有鉴于半岛形势攸关自身安全与战略利益及与地区各主要力量关系,积极劝和促谈,虽成效不甚显著,仍体现了建设性负责任大国的姿态和作用。未来,朝核问题大致有“谈起来”“打起来”“拖下去”三种可能,“拖下去”正在真实上演。长远看,只有坚持对话,用安全换安全,才能走出东北亚安全局势的“怪圈”和“死结”。

 

 

 

目录

第一部分朝鲜的核武装能力加速逼近“核导合一”的“临界点”,即将确立对美及其盟友的系统性战略威慑力

 

第二部分朝鲜密集的核导活动撼动国际核不扩散体系严肃性,招致国际社会更严厉的多边制裁


第三部分美国特朗普政府对朝实施“极限施压”策略,与朝对话谈判之门迟迟无法打开


第四部分中国在朝核问题上承受巨大压力,仍坚持无核化目标,坚持推动对话谈判和平解决问题,有关政策主张逐步得到国际社会理解和认同


第五部分俄罗斯在朝核问题上发挥协调作用的积极性明显上升,未来将成为对话谈判和平解决朝鲜半岛一系列问题的重要渠道


第六部分结语


 

 

 

一、朝鲜的核武装能力加速逼近“核导合一”的“临界点”,即将确立对美及其盟友的系统性战略威慑力。

(一)朝鲜第六次核试验

2017年9月3日1130分,朝鲜在北部核试验场(丰溪里试验场)进行了一次氢弹试验。此系朝鲜自2006年以来进行的第六次核试验,是六次当中爆炸当量最大的一次(一般估计相当于20万吨TNT当量),也是朝自称的第二次氢弹试验(第一次发生在201616日)。朝中社发布消息称,此次试验的目的是“验证和确认可在洲际弹道火箭战斗部装载的氢弹制作中新研发和应用的威力调整技术和内部结构设计方案的正确性和可靠性”,检测结果再次检验了通过核弹头爆炸试验和各种弹道火箭试射充分审核的密集布置型核爆操控系统的可靠性,“洲际弹道火箭可携带的氢弹试验取得全面成功”,朝鲜的核武器设计及制作技术达到了按照打击目标和目的能够随意调整核弹威力的很高水平,“是达成完善国家核力量的终结阶段目标中的一个意义深远的契机”。[1]

朝中社93日晨还报道了朝鲜最高领导人金正恩视察国家核武器研究所热核武器战斗部的消息。金正恩说,裂变和热核装药等氢弹的所有构成因素实现100%国产化,从武器级核物质生产工序到部件精密加工和装备,核武器制造所需的所有工序都实现了主体化,使朝鲜今后能够随意大量生产强有力的核武器。朝中社还配发了金正恩观看陈列在热核武器战斗部内的核武器实体的照片,以示其核武计划绝非战略欺骗。

朝鲜第六次核试验同步引发的地震震级高于前五次核试验,中国地震台网正式测定931130分在北纬41.35度、东经129.11度发生6.3级地震,震源深度0千米。国际全面禁止核试验条约组织筹备委员会(CTBTO)的全球监测系统最初估计震级为5.86.0级,后确定为6.1[2]。美国约翰·霍普金斯大学“北纬38度线”网站估计朝鲜第六次核试验TNT当量在10万吨以上,后将估值调整为25万吨[3]。中国科学院地质与地球物理研究所根据卫星图片显示的朝鲜核试验场堆积土方量,推测挖掘深度达到10002400米,相应爆炸当量在1020万吨之间[4]。日本防卫大臣小野寺五典向媒体表示,日本估计朝鲜第六次核试验爆炸当量为16万吨,是1945年广岛原子弹的10倍。[5]各方评估判断不排除这是一次氢弹试验的可能,韩国原子能安全委员会也证实此次朝核试后韩国境内检测出放射性物质氙,但公开信息显示各方均无足够证据够证明这是一次完全的氢弹试验。

美国科学与国际安全研究所(ISIS)主席戴维·奥尔布赖特913日在国会参院财政拨款委员会听证会上表示,朝鲜第六次核试验爆炸当量远高于此前五次核试验,可以确信是某种旨在提高裂变产额的热核装置。但这是否如朝鲜宣称是小型第二阶段热核武器仍然存疑,朝媒照片当中展示的核武器实体完全可以根据公开资料制作出来,主要还是宣传性的。朝鲜为制造出真正令人信服的小型第二阶段热核武器,实现可减少武器级钚和铀消耗量的更有效裂变,可能进行更多地下核试验,并且继续优化第一阶段热核武器和研发电磁脉冲(EMP)武器[6]

俄罗斯方面认为朝鲜此次试验的威力仍未达氢弹级别,并且在联合国安理会为应对此次核试举行的磋商中阐明了观点。

(二)朝鲜密集的弹道导弹试射活动

朝鲜在2017年进行的最主要弹道导弹发射活动是六次火星-12和两次火星-14试射。

朝鲜分别于415日、416日、429日、514日、828日和915日各进行一次“火星12”新型地对地中远程战略弹道导弹试射(该型导弹于2017415日纪念金日成诞辰105周年的阅兵式上首次公开展示),金正恩至少亲自坐阵指导了后三次试射。第一次试射,导弹飞行9分钟后坠落到日本海,飞行距离60千米,最高高度达189千米。第二次试射在发射升空后数秒爆炸。第三次试射在飞行30多千米后坠毁。对于514日的试射,朝鲜官媒高调报道,朝中社称火箭沿预定飞行轨道上升至最大顶点高度2111.5千米后正确落到距离787千米的公海目标水域。对于828日的试射,朝媒没有公开报道飞行结果,韩美分析认为那枚“火星12”在飞行2700千米后并未落入北太平洋目标海域,表明试验失败。对于915日的试射,朝中社称火箭沿预定轨道飞越日本北海道上空,准确落入太平洋上目标水域,“检验了核弹头使用规则、确认了实战行动程序,对朝鲜形成核武战斗力具有重大意义”[7]

朝鲜分别于74日和728日各进行一次火星-14洲际弹道导弹试射。根据朝中社的相关报道,金正恩均现场指导,试射均取得成功。韩国媒体援引韩军联合参谋本部监测信息及相关专家分析评估称,4日发射的导弹飞行高度超过2300千米,飞行930多千米,如果以正常角度发射,其飞行距离可能超过6000千米,射程远及美国本土,达到洲际导弹级别。朝鲜官方详细公布了728日试射的技术参数,称最大飞行高度为3724.9千米,飞行距离998千米,飞行时长4712秒,准确命中公海目标水域,展现了朝鲜具备在任何地点和任意时间发射洲际弹道导弹的能力,[a11] “清楚证明了美国本土全境都在朝鲜的射程内”。[8]

朝鲜在2017年还进行了多次中程导弹的发射活动,包括212日“北极星2”固体机动中程地对地弹道(朝鲜在2017年的首次导弹发射,也是“北极星2”导弹系统第一次试射),36日“火星7”中程导弹(一次试射4枚),529日“火星9”战役战术导弹(机动发射,末端可修正)。

朝鲜的导弹工业发展始于20世纪中叶,以苏联的导弹及技术为基础发展起来,主要类型包括近程、中程、中远程和潜射导弹。金正恩上台以来,朝鲜的导弹试射活动进入高密集度期,不完全统计,2013201420152016年分别进行5次、15次、11次、15次各类型导弹发射活动。事实表明,朝鲜正加紧验证和展示其“洲际弹道导弹体系的可靠性”,成功率明显提高,以期尽快掌握大气层再入技术,形成有效战斗力,接近完成从中程向远程的跨越。

(三)对朝鲜核导能力进展的基本评估

2006年以来,朝鲜总共进行了六次地下核试验和数十次各型号弹道导弹发射行为,其目的明显在于具备能搭载不同类型小型核弹头的洲际弹道导弹发射能力,确立对美国及其盟友的战略威慑力。

与核导技术的快速进步相匹配,朝鲜领导层不断重申着朝鲜坚定推进核导计划的政治意志,巩固拥核战略。继20124月修订宪法写入金正日同志使我们祖国变成不败的政治思想强国、核拥有国、无敌的军事强国,为建设富强繁荣的国家铺设道路20165月朝鲜劳动党第七次全国代表大会确定“核武发展与经济建设并进”路线并以“拥核国家”身份提出三大政策要点:不首先使用核武器,履行防止核扩散义务,为实现世界无核化而努力。金正恩2017107日在朝鲜劳动党中央委员会第七届第二次全体会议上强调,严峻形势下要团结一心,以自力更生和科学技术的力量粉碎制裁、发展经济,继续贯彻经济建设和核武力建设并进路线,出色完成国家核武力建设的历史大业。值得注意的是,这次中央全会也试图超越核问题本身,将朝鲜的核武力“常态化”,也即,不过分渲染核战略的重要性,试图将六次核试验和数十次导弹试射展示的能力转变为一种需要外界适应的“常态”,显示朝鲜已成“核国家是无可否认的事实,核武力不容谈判。[9]

415日,朝鲜为纪念已故国家主席金日成105周年诞辰(“太阳节”)而举行的盛大阅兵式展示了多种导弹装备,其中除“KN08”“KN14”型洲际导弹外,还有一种外形类似俄罗斯白杨M”洲际弹道导弹的导弹,比“KN08”和“KN14”更长,可能是朝鲜的新型洲际弹道导弹。

911日朝鲜国庆日,金正恩出席第六次核试验祝捷会发表讲话说:此次打响的氢弹爆炸声,是朝鲜人民在艰难时期勒紧腰带,用血的代价换来的伟大胜利。他还鼓励工程技术人员不要放松以氢弹试验的完全成功带来民族历史上的大喜事、特大事件的斗争气概,应再接再厉

外界几乎无人怀疑朝鲜已经具备利用弹道导弹对韩国、日本乃至美国关岛实施核打击的能力,但对朝是否能对美国本土构成实质性的核导威胁,仍有不同看法。一般认为,朝若想真正达到崔善姬所宣称的目标,必须攻克两大技术难关:一是弹道导弹大气层再入技术以及精确制导与控制技术,二是核弹头小型化以及引爆装置的可靠性。突破了这两道难关并且获得了稳定的技术表现,朝鲜才算完成了确立有效战略威胁力所必须实现的“核导合一”,而目前,尽管朝鲜在两个方面进步神速,但距离真正意义的“核导合一”还有差距。但无可否认的是,朝鲜的核导计划已经进入收尾阶段,各方将不得不面对一个具备一定核打击能力的更加自信的朝鲜。

20152月美国约翰·霍普金斯大学美朝研究院与美国国防大学曾经发布《朝鲜核未来》研究报告,预测到2020年朝鲜核弹头数量达到50100枚,朝鲜最起码能够维持5060枚的水平[10]2017年,美国对朝鲜核导能力进行了再评估。《华盛顿邮报》725日报道称,美国国防部下属的国防情报局(DIA)在一份内部报告中推测,其导弹发射技术也取得了惊人的进步,将在2018年某个时段生产出能搭载核武器的可靠的洲际弹道导弹(ICBM[11]。其他美国媒体援引美国国防部匿名官员的话证实了国防情报局这份报告的存在。《华盛顿邮报》88日另一篇报道还称,朝鲜截止20177月底拥有最多60枚核武器,朝鲜已经拥有小型核弹头,事实上已经进入完全的核武装国家行列。[12]

美国科学与国际安全研究所(ISIS)根据的朝鲜钚和高浓铀生产量推测,到2016年底,朝鲜拥有1330件核武器,目前正以每年35件的速度递增,到2020年可达2550件,甚至60件。[13]

中情局局长蓬佩奥413日在美国战略与国际研究中心发表讲话称,多个政府都试图应对可以搭载核弹头打到美国的洲际弹道导弹威胁,我们现在比历史上任何时候都离威胁更近一步,“朝鲜一直以来都在取得进展。813日,蓬佩奥在接受福克斯电视台采访时说,朝鲜正以惊人的步伐研制发展可以对美国进行核攻击的能力,再过数月便可拥有完整的核武能力,足以令美国成为攻击目标。不过,有能力发射单一一枚核弹,与生产大量核武器是有区别的。此前,412日,曾在小布什时期担任中央情报局副局长的丹尼斯·韦尔德(Dennis Wilder)授受澳大利亚ABC电视台《夜线》节目采访表示,美国情报机构估计,朝鲜可以在4年内,甚至说在特朗普任期之内,获得把弹道导弹发射到美国西海岸的能力。[14]

俄罗斯国家原子能研究公司战略稳定研究所的专家评估认为,朝鲜已利用宁边5兆瓦核反应堆累计产出4042千克的武器级钚,200620092013年的三次核试验大约用掉了10千克。目前朝鲜约有2030枚内爆型钚弹和高浓缩铀弹,核弹头年产量约为7枚,2018年会增长到10枚。这些核弹头最有可能用于核轰炸,即,使用轰炸机或由轰炸机改装的军用运输机进行投放。[15]

 

二、朝鲜密集的核导活动撼动国际核不扩散体系严肃性,招致国际社会更严厉的多边制裁。

上世纪60年代以来,随着核武器核试验的不断增多,国际社会逐步形成以主权国家和国际组织为行为主体、《不扩散核武器条约》为基本制度保障、和平利用核能为原则的核秩序。虽然由于历史和现实原因,这套秩序有诸多不平等与不公正之处,实施双重标准,对现实发展的不适应性日趋严重,存在能够逆转的可能,但这种秩序的形成终归是人类文明进步的成果和国际安全的基本保证因素,当予维护,并在条件具备的情况下推动其改革,而克服国际社会“无政府”状态下的安全困境,是决定现时国际核秩序未来走向的关键。

朝鲜核问题的历史演进体现了核秩序内不扩散体制的变迁。朝鲜在冷战期间曾接受来自苏联的核援助。在美苏平行核不扩散体制下,苏联负责对朝鲜的核活动进行监控,朝鲜并不将其引进的核设施、核材料置于国际原子能机构安全保障之下,是后来其自行研发核武器的秘密行为泄露,才在苏联压力下加入《不扩散核武器条约》,并同意其宁边5兆瓦反应堆接受国际原子能机构监督。冷战结束后,现有国际核不扩散体制确立,朝鲜变本加厉进行核导活动并在此间退出《不扩散核武器条约》,对国际核不扩散体系造成严重冲击。朝鲜目前的核状态使其成为第一个事实上成功突破既有核秩序的国家,不仅意味着现有国际核不扩散体制的倒退甚至瓦解,也暴露出现有国际核秩序内部出现了致命性松动,不但需要设法促使朝鲜回归现有国际核不扩散体制,还要防止核门槛国家日本、韩国效仿朝鲜摆脱《不扩散核武器条约》管束寻求拥有核武器。[16]

2017612,国际原子能机构总干事天野之弥在维也纳总部举行的机构理事会会议上通报《2016年年度报告》主要内容时表示,自朝鲜2012年中止对原子能机构的邀请后,原子能机构不能在朝开展监测和核查活动,导致对朝核计划发展情况的了解有限,但可确定,朝鲜并未以全面、可核查和不可逆的方式放弃其现有核计划或停止所有相关活动,继续违反和公然无视联合国安理会的相关决议,并拒绝与原子能机构的所有合作。天野之弥敦促朝鲜当局全面遵守《不扩散核武器条约》并与原子能机构立即开展合作,以充分和有效地实施国际原子能机构的全面保障,实现朝鲜半岛无核化。[17]

国际原子能机构对朝鲜核能力发展的担忧反映了国际社会的普遍关切,这种关切通过2017年针对朝鲜核导行为通过的三份联合国安理会决议反映出来。自1993年的第825号决议以来,联合国安理会已经通过12个涉朝决议以及4个主席声明,最近三份决议的讨论和通过表现出前所未有的一致性和快速性,表明国际社会对朝鲜核导行为的容忍度正在加速消耗。

针对朝鲜4月密集进行的弹道导弹发射,联合国安理会62日一致通过第2356号决议,将朝鲜14人列入旅行禁令和资产冻结制裁名单、4个实体列入资产冻结制裁名单。

针对朝鲜74日和728日进行的洲际弹道导弹试射,联合国安理会85日一致通过第2371号决议,对朝实施更严厉制裁措施。决议禁止朝鲜煤、铁、铁矿石等原材料以及海产食品的出口,并禁止各国开设与朝鲜实体或个人的新合资企业或合作实体,或追加投资。根据决议,新制裁措施将使朝鲜每年减少至少10亿美元的外汇收入,约占其外汇收入的三分之一。

针对朝鲜进行第六次核试验,联合国安理会911日一致通过第2375号决议,决定对朝鲜实施新的制裁。这是自2006年以来联合国安理会通过的第9项涉朝决议,规定对朝鲜进口石油产品实施限制,还将限制对朝供应原油,其总量不应超过过去12个月的水平。根据这份决议,朝鲜不能购买凝析油和天然气凝析液,以及出售纺织品。安理会新的制裁决议禁止朝鲜出口纺织品,规定对朝原油出口量不得超过400万桶,并将对朝成品油出口量配额设定为200万桶。禁止成员国进口朝鲜纺织品、聘用朝鲜劳工,以及冻结部分朝鲜政权机构的资产、遏制朝鲜走私等。

至安理会第2375号决议,朝鲜90%的出口都遭禁止。依照被制裁商品在此前两年的贸易金额计划,新的决议将使朝鲜每年失去13亿美元的收入,2018年朝鲜出口额可能下降至5.2亿美元,进口额可能下降至15.2亿美元,退回到1999年的水平。

随着朝鲜核能力的显著提升和任性宣示,国际社会认识到其拥核决心的不可逆性,也看到了国际制裁对朝鲜施压效果的有限性,持“默认朝鲜拥核”论者明显增多。美国卡内基国际和平研究院的史文(Michael Swaine)提出,金正恩不是不知道其一旦向美国本土发动核打击,朝鲜分分钟内将被美国摧毁,因此其核战略不会失去基本理性,美国短期内对朝政策的重点应是与韩、中等国加强沟通协调,加强对朝鲜任何可能的核材料转移行为的侦测和预防,实施有效的危机管理,而不是压朝全面弃核。[18]持类似观点的还有斯坦福大学的核科学家赫克(Siegfried Hecker)等美国学者。

与此同时,韩国、日本一些在野人士鼓吹自主发展核武装或再次部署美国战术核武器以抗衡朝鲜核计划。韩国民调机构真实计量器Realmeter914日发布的调查结果显示,53.5%的受访者赞成韩国自主开发核武或引入战术核武,35.1%的人反对。不过,韩国总统文在寅当天在接受美国有线电视新闻网采访时明确表示,“我不赞同韩国需要开发自己的核武器,或是再次部署战术核武器,但韩国需要强化军事力量应对朝鲜核活动。[19]

 

三、美国特朗普政府对朝实施“极限施压”策略,与朝对话谈判之门迟迟无法打开。

特朗普上台后,把朝核问题当作在亚太地区优先应对的首要安全问题,以“阻止朝鲜发展核武和实现半岛无核化、不让朝鲜有能力威胁美国”为底线[20]优先外交解决,但明显突出军事手段的“备选项”地位[21]朝鲜第六次核试和试射“火星14”洲际导弹后,美国提高应对朝鲜核导威胁的调门,将朝鲜称作“最大的安全威胁”,强调美军有能力提前解除朝鲜的致命威胁,需做好准备,确保美国保有采取必要军事行动这一“最后选项”。[22]

20173月,基于对朝鲜核导能力的再评估,特朗普政府利用蒂勒森国务卿访韩的机会宣布废弃奥巴马政府的“对朝战略忍耐”政策。之后,特朗普政府于426日发表了应对朝鲜问题的政策声明,声称朝鲜谋求发展核武是对美国国家安全的紧迫威胁,也是美国外交政策的优先事项。配合声明的发表,特朗普下令分别在白宫和国会大厦罕见召开以国会参众两院全体议员为对象的闭门形式的对朝政策说明会。特朗普政府考虑了一系列政策选项,包括军事打击、推翻朝鲜政权、承认朝鲜核国家地位等,最终确定对朝实施“最大程度压力+最大程度接触+最大程度贡献”的“极限施压”政策(extreme pressurepolicy),即通过经济制裁和外交手段最大限度施压,促朝停止核导活动,但不寻求对朝进行政权更迭,如朝改变其行为,再与其接触。[23]

“极限施压”政策由白宫国家安全委员会主导制订,明确贯彻“美国优先”原则和“以实力保和平”理念,本土防务需求更加突出。从新政策确定之后半年的实际操作看,有三大主要特点。

(一)高度依赖武力威慑,军事行动成为美方应对朝鲜核导危机的排位逐渐前移的选项,但引而不发,搞战略模糊,展现政策的不可测性,兼打心理战

军事手段的“前移”包括:更新5015作战计划,在半岛扩大B-1B轰炸机、F-22战斗机、核动力潜艇等战略武器以及“萨德”反导系统的部署,以半公开方式加紧做实施先发制人精确打击的准备,增派航母到朝鲜半岛附近游弋、演练,扩大美韩联演规模并有针对性地安排科目,实操紧急状态下美驻韩人员撤离半岛的演练,等等。特朗普上任以来美军发起的两次有限军事行动--4月空袭叙利亚政府军控制的机场和向阿富汗境内“伊斯兰国”武装区域空投最大威力非核武型炸弹,以及530日美军首次进行以陆基反导系统进行洲际弹道导弹拦截试验,在一定程度上也是做给朝鲜看的。

2017年上半年美韩举行的鹞鹰关键决断例行联合军演,无论在双方参演人员规模、派出武器装备还是演习科目上均超越上年,演习性质由防御性、战术型向进攻性、战略型演变,并首次在演习中模拟用萨德系统拦截导弹。8月美韩年度乙支自由卫士联合指挥所演习有约1.75万美军和5万韩军参演,尽管规模较往年有所缩小,但邀得澳大利亚、加拿大、哥伦比亚、丹麦、新西兰、荷兰和英国军队参与,声势扩大。11月,紧随特朗普结束访韩之后,美韩在朝鲜半岛东部海域进行航空母舰战斗群联合演习,美国海军“罗纳德·里根”号、“西奥多·罗斯福”号和“尼米兹”号三艘核动力航母和11艘宙斯盾驱逐舰齐发,与韩军7艘军舰共同参演,通过航母护送作战、航空作战、航空射击增强联合作战执行能力。

5015作战计划”是20156月由韩美联合司令部司令官斯卡帕罗蒂和韩军参谋长联席会议参谋长崔润喜签署的针对朝鲜的联合机密作战计划,以取代1973年提出、沿革执行30多年的“5027作战计划”。“5015作战计划”“概括了美韩军队在战争爆发或其他危机发生时将如何行动”,核心是发动“先发制人”打击,摧毁朝鲜的大规模杀伤性武器及军事基地、核设施、导弹阵地、指挥所、通讯机构等其他重要目标,并对政治和军事领导人实施“斩首”,力争在冲突或危机爆发早期阶段实现“快速致胜”,将损失控制在最低程度。2016年,“5015作战计划”的部分内容首次成为美韩“关键决断”联合军演科目。2017年的“关键决断”、“鹞鹰”和乙支自由卫士联合军演中也演练了该计划部分要素,既是展示决心,也是实际练兵。《华盛顿邮报》援引韩联社的消息称,在“关键决断”“鹞鹰”演习中,美韩联军还演练了新的4D”作战计划,该计划拟定了美韩先发制人军事行动的细节,目的是探查、干扰、摧毁和防御朝鲜核武器与导弹系统。[24]

为配合不断加强的对朝作战准备工作,510日,中央情报局宣布设立专门的情报中心。中情局此前共有10个任务中心,包括西半球、非洲、欧洲和欧亚、中东、亚太以及中南亚这6个按地域划分的任务中心,还有全球事务、反恐、反间谍和反武器扩散这4个战略主题任务中心,针对单一国家设立情报中心尚属首次。

1028日,美韩在首尔举行第49届韩安保会议。两国国防部长会后签署共同声明,宣布双方已商定在韩国部署更多美军战略武器。声明称,两国防长一致认为通过外交途径解决朝核问题最有效,外交成功需要强有力的军事力量做后盾。双方还决定就修订《韩美导弹指南》和引进尖端战略武器展开协商,并就解除《韩美导弹指南》规定的韩军导弹弹头重量限制尽早进行沟通。美国国防部长马蒂斯在声明中强调,美方将挫败针对美国及其盟友的一切攻击,动用包括“核保护伞”、常规武器打击力量、导弹防御能力在内的所有军事力量提供延伸威慑。

为增强威慑效果,特朗普亲自上阵,通过频繁的公开表态和推特发声,向朝鲜和与朝鲜保持正常往来的国家发起心理攻势。比如,“朝鲜表现很坏。他们玩弄美国多年了。中国也没帮什么忙”(318日推文);“朝鲜在找麻烦。(如果)中国决定帮助(我们),那太好了,如果不,我们可以在没有他们的情况下解决问题”411日推文);“朝鲜最好不要对美国发出任何挑衅,否则他们将会遭到从未见到过的炮火和怒火”(88日推文);“哪怕朝鲜只是有攻击美国及其盟友的想法,也应为这种想法感到提心吊胆,因为他们从未想到过的情况将会降临到他们头上”(88日推文);美国的核武器比以往任何时候都要更加强大,希望美国没有动用核武的必要89日推文);“朝鲜最好老实点,否则会遭遇到少数国家曾经遭遇的麻烦”(810日对媒体讲话)。

特朗普在88日、9日的“两日三推”激怒了朝鲜,朝鲜人民军战略军810日回应说,将于8月中旬完成“关岛包围打击方案”并上报朝鲜核武力总司令金正恩,方案内容包括同时发射4枚中远程弹道导弹打击关岛周边3040公里水域。针对这一“威胁”,特朗普于811日发推说,“只要朝鲜采取不明智的行动,美国军队已经子弹上膛作好准备,但愿金正恩能另作选择”。830日他又发推说,“美国与朝鲜对话、向他们支付勒索费已经25年了,对话并不是答案”。

朝鲜进行第六次核试验当天,特朗普立即在推特上宣称,朝鲜进行了一次重大核试验,朝方的言辞和行动对美国来说仍然是充满敌意和危险的”;“美国正在考虑除了其他选择之外,停止与任何与朝鲜做生意的国家进行贸易往来93日推文)。920日,特朗普在第72届联合国大会一般性辩论上发表他的首次联大讲话,特别提及朝鲜,将金正恩蔑称为“小火箭人”,宣称“美国有着巨大的能力和耐心,如果被迫捍卫自己和盟友,我们没有其他选择,只能彻底摧毁朝鲜”。对此,金正恩次日罕见发表声明称要以火惩治美国的疯老头105日,特朗普在白宫为军方主要负责人及配偶举行晚宴,与一众人等合影后面对记者回答了涉及伊朗、朝鲜等敏感问题后说:“现在可能是暴风雨前的平静”。106日,特朗普在椭圆形办公室短暂会见记者,被问及他将如何应对朝核问题时回答,“你们会知道的”,“走着瞧”。107日,他再次推特发声,历任总统和政府同朝鲜谈判了25年,达成了一些协议,付出了巨资,都没有效果,协议上的墨迹还没干,就不被遵守了,戏耍美方谈判人员。抱歉,只有一个办法能奏效。

特朗普的声音简单直白、态度强硬,但语意含混不清,似乎在美国是否会对朝动武问题上故意玩弄战略模糊以使对手琢磨不透、心神不宁,加剧了局势的螺旋升级。对此,白宫预算管理办公室主任米克·马尔瓦尼108日接受美国全国广播公司(NBC)采访时解释说,特朗普传达的信息是明确的,那就是朝鲜问题可以考虑通过军事途径解决。

(二)对朝不明划“红线”,“大棒”更硬,而在具体操作中相较多边机制更倚重双边模式,也更倾向于采取议题联动、利益置换的手段

20171月金正恩在新年讲话里炫耀“朝已做好发射远程导弹准备”后,特朗普立即发推特说“这绝不会发生”,但他并不明言“这”指代什么,引起众多猜测。现在看来,特朗普是有意以“指代模糊”搞“战略模糊”。一般认为,朝鲜绝不能进行第六次核试验、绝不能再有洲际弹道导弹发射行为曾是特朗普上任初期的“心理红线”,但先后被朝方突破。面对朝鲜的不断踩线、越线,特朗普政府难下对朝动武决心,只能调动一切可调动的力量,最大限度收紧对朝制裁围堵,强化施压效果。

特朗普政府做到了步步紧逼。在联合国安理会多边制裁之外,美国会同其盟友对朝施加了更为严厉的单边制裁。61日,美国财政部以帮助朝鲜逃避制裁、与朝鲜的核和导弹开发有关为由将俄罗斯企业列入美国的单独制裁对象。727日,美国国会参议院通过对俄罗斯、朝鲜和伊朗的新制裁法案,众议院之前已通过了该议案。83日,特朗普签署了这项法案。921日,特朗普签署针对朝鲜的新制裁令,禁止美国与朝鲜有贸易往来的实体和个人进行商贸活动,任何180天内到达过朝鲜的货轮将被禁止进入美国。926日,美国财政部宣布对参与支持朝鲜发展大规模杀伤性武器的朝鲜8家银行和26名公民实施制裁,冻结有关机构和个人在美国境内的资产。外国资产管制办公室(OFAC)将封锁受制裁对象在美国的财产并禁止其与美国公民有任何经济往来。美国的这些单边制裁措施实际上也是在根据其国内法对与朝鲜在美方单边制裁涉及领域保持经济往来的第三方实体或个人实施“长臂管辖”,或者说把与朝鲜有交易的第三方金融机构和企业等拖入实施或酝酿实施“次级制裁”的范畴。

美国国务院在全球范围内实施了一场针对朝鲜的“外交孤立”行动,具体内容包括,要求其他国家关闭朝鲜政府拥有的企业,撤销朝鲜船只的船籍登记,取消朝鲜国有航空公司的航班,并驱逐朝鲜大使。这项行动在多个方向上取得成效,包括,印度颁布禁令中止与朝鲜的贸易活动和为朝鲜培训士兵项目,东盟峰会和外长会单独发表声明对朝鲜半岛局势表示关切并决定严格执行安理会涉朝决议,墨西哥、秘鲁、西班牙、科威特、意大利驱逐朝鲜大使,德国关闭朝鲜在柏林开设的旅馆,科威特、卡塔尔等国减少境内朝鲜劳工。美国国务院并透露,20171月以来有超过20个国家限制了朝鲜外交活动。[25]

特朗普政府认定对朝施压制裁要想取得明显效果的关键在于与朝鲜保持“特殊关系”的中国,竭力将施压制裁的首要责任“外包”给中国,比奥巴马政府变本加厉地推动“借中制朝”。为此,对中国软硬兼施:一方面,漂亮话说尽,给中国戴高帽,在外交层面与中方保持高级别密切沟通,同时释放希与中方就朝鲜半岛一旦有事如何做准备进行协调的信号。另一方面,公开抱怨,将对朝单边制裁延伸至中国公司和个人,还把中美双边贸易谈判与中国帮助美国处理朝核问题的表现相挂钩。特朗普涉及朝核问题的大量推文把中国和朝鲜放在一起数落,充分反映了上述思维方式和他的情绪波动,比如“我向中国的主席说明过,如果他们能解决北朝鲜的问题,那么中国与美国的贸易协议将会好很多”(411日推文);“虽然试射失败了,但是朝鲜不尊重中国及其值得尊敬的领导人的意愿再次发射导弹,这很糟糕”(429日推文);“朝鲜刚刚又发射了一枚导弹。难道这个家伙就没别的事好做吗?难以相信韩国和日本将能忍受更久。也许,中国对朝鲜将下重手,结束这一切”(74日推文);中国与朝鲜的贸易在今年第一季度增加了将近40%。中国就是这样跟我们合作的。但我们不得不试试看!75日推文);“我对中国非常不满。我们过去的愚蠢领导人让中国一年在贸易上赚数千亿美元,而他们却在朝鲜问题上什么也没有帮美国做,只是动嘴。我们不会再让这种情况继续下去。中国应该能够轻而易举地解决这个问题”(729日推文)。615日,美方宣布对中国沈阳的“明正国际贸易公司”提起诉讼,指称该公司为被制裁的朝鲜实体洗钱。629日,美国财政部长姆钦宣布,由于美国判断中国的丹东银行参与了为朝鲜的核导开发洗钱,禁止美国金融机构与其发生交易。同时受制裁的还有中国的2名个人和1家海运公司。随着国际制裁不断收紧,朝鲜并未屈服,还接连拒绝中方派特使赴朝的要求,使得特朗普和他的政府也不得不承认中国对朝影响力的有限性。

(三)对朝也唱“白脸”戏,保持接触渠道,强调外交解决优先,不排除对话谈判,伸出的“胡萝卜”显得更甜。

首先是美国最高领导人没有停止释放不排除与金正恩坐下来谈的信号。223日,特朗普在接受英国路透社专访时,对朝鲜试射导弹的行为表达了担忧,但同时表示,不排除未来在某种特定条件下与朝鲜领导人金正恩会面的可能性,不过现在可能“太迟了”。51日,特朗普在白宫接受彭博社采访时表示,如果与他(金正恩)会面是件可行的事,我肯定会这么做,并且感到荣幸,但前提是情况要允许大多数政治人物不会明确表态愿意与金正恩会面,但我愿意。[26]116日,特朗普在访日时重申,朝鲜核计划是对文明世界以及国际和平与稳定的一种威胁,战略忍耐的时代已经结束,但他同时不排除会见金正恩的可能,表示,“我认为这并不意味着强势或者弱势,和人们围着一张桌子坐下并不是什么坏事”,“我当然会作好这么做的准备,但我们还要再等等看”,现在计划与金正恩会晤“还太早”。[27]

其次是提出解决朝核问题的“两弃”“四不”原则。蒂勒森国务卿在3月访问亚洲途中接受记者专访、428日主持联合国安理会朝核问题特别外长会、53日公开演讲时逐步“进化”出来的“两弃”“四不”原则是,在朝放弃核试验与导弹开发的前提下,美国不要求改变朝国家体制、不要求搞垮金正恩政权、不急于南北统一、美军不跨过北纬38度线进攻朝。[28][a12]  客观而言,这些“善意”比奥巴马政府有进步,特别是在承诺无意颠覆朝方面释放了更为明确的官方信号,同时也是特朗普政府与朝进行对话谈判的前提条件。对此,中国外交部发言人耿爽58日应询表示,我们注意到蒂勒森国务卿有关表态,以及他所介绍的四不原则和美方致力于推动半岛无核化的决心,“美方在当前形势下释放通过对话协商解决问题的信号具有积极意义,值得有关各方认真对待”[29][a13] 中方期待美方在上述表态精神的基础上,同朝方加强接触,探求共识,建立互信。

第三是与朝方进行低规格的有限接触。58日,美国在挪威奥斯陆通过1.5轨与朝鲜进行试探性对话,美朝双方代表分别为总部设在华盛顿的智库新美国基金会资深研究员苏珊娜·迪马乔和朝鲜外务省北美局局长崔善熙(以外务省旗下机构研究员身份)。这是美朝自201611月在瑞士日内瓦接触以来的再次会面,会议或持续2天,据报道主要讨论了朝鲜释放扣押的美国人问题,但美方仍探寻了朝鲜的谈判条件。[30]

一般来讲,美朝之间的秘密双边接触主要通过纽约、新加坡、吉隆坡和欧洲渠道进行,从未关死,即便在美朝关系和半岛局势最为紧张的时刻。930日,蒂勒森国务卿在访华期间面对记者追问承认我们有与朝鲜沟通的渠道。我们的处境并不黑暗,我们对朝鲜开放了两三个沟通渠道我们有自己的渠道。蒂勒森发此言后次日特朗普即发推特予以嘲讽:“我已告诉蒂勒森---我们伟大的国务卿,试图谈判是在浪费他的时间。”尽管如此,仍间接证实了美朝中低级别接触的事实存在。

总的来看,尽管高调摒弃“对朝战略忍耐”,特朗普政府应对朝核问题的所作所为相较于奥巴马时期仍是“换汤不换药”的。经过几轮交手后,特朗普对朝核问题的复杂性和紧迫性都有了更深刻的认识,虽然称奥巴马政府对朝“战略忍耐”已死,事实上却对该政策有所延续,本质上仍是硬软两手兼施,“两面下注”。如有什么特别的不同,则是像商业谈判一样,把所有选项都摆到桌面上,各种压诱手段用到极致,以凸显“以实力求和平”的果敢,求得看似比前任有更多行动力的国内政治效果。至少从目前迹象看,特朗普对朝核没有太多战略思维和长远规划,并未就如何从根本上解决有关问题进行深入的思考,主要还是应激式反应,反映了其实用主义的特点。甚至可以说,特朗普的“极限施压”政策是“延伸版”的奥巴马政策。[31]

无论是对朝发动军事打击、物理消灭朝鲜领导人,还是使用特殊手段改变朝体制,都是既没有把握实现预期目标也没有办法控制后果的极具冒险性的选择,精于算计的特朗普不会贸然选择动武,只能继续强调“外交解决优先”。即便是在朝每一次违反联合国安理会决议精神的举动之后借力打力收紧对朝制裁,过去两年也显得收效有限。金正恩时代的朝鲜国内经济虽然面临更为严苛的外部制裁封锁,似乎并没有显得比金正日时期更坏,2015年和2016年朝经济均仍取得1%左右的增长,而20112015年朝鲜经济维持在0.8%1.3%的低增长率[32]2016年粮食自产量增产7%,达481万吨,取得上世纪90年代中期粮荒发生以来的最好成绩,基本能满足居民最低口粮需求。[33]面对金正恩一手抓核导一手抓民生的“并进战略”,美国不断加码的“大棒”并无法逼近促朝自内生变的“临界值”。而特朗普政府对朝伸出的“胡罗卜”刚一露头,便受朝鲜核导技术的实质性突破和20172月金正恩胞兄金正男在马来西亚遭暗杀事件、6月被朝鲜扣押一年多的美国大学生奥托·瓦姆比尔获释即变成植物人并死亡事件影响,而在美国国内变得极度不合时宜,不得不更加强调进一步制裁和加强与盟友对话,延伸战略威慑。

种种情况显示,美国高层已开始不由自主地把朝核导问题当作一种“可信的核威胁”加以应对,但美方究竟有多少可信和有效的解决这一问题的思路和手段---无论是硬的一手还是软的一手,仍是令人怀疑的。正如《华盛顿邮报》414日一篇报道指出的,特朗普政府的对朝政策仍有不少问题需要回答:如何向合作解决朝核问题的地区国家提供某种保证?如果朝鲜愿意改变,朝方必须采取什么样的具体行动?所谓“接触”有什么具体形式?地区盟友日本和韩国会接受吗?[34]

 

四、中国在朝核问题上承受巨大压力,仍坚持无核化目标,坚持推动对话谈判和平解决问题,有关政策主张逐步得到国际社会理解和认同。

2017年,中国在朝核问题上的作用倍受瞩目。一方面,美国特朗普政府无视中国多年来为斡旋六方会谈所做努力的客观事实,发起政治、舆论攻势,大肆散布“中国是唯一能够阻止朝鲜的国家”、“中国在朝核问题上不作为,没有尽到责任”等论调,将朝核问题上升为中美关系中安全领域的最主要议题,把中国当作推动对朝制裁升级显效的最关键一方,企图向中国转嫁朝核危机的应对压力。同时,特朗普政府将美国的亚太政策升级为所谓“印度洋-太平洋战略”,以应对“朝鲜核导威胁”为名在朝鲜半岛及周边地区加紧部署、升级战略武器,包括积极推动“萨德”入韩落地,进一步改变了东北亚地区的战略安全态势,使中国承受了较前更大的战略压力。另一方面,朝鲜核导行为逐渐失控的客观态势在国际上引起广泛忧虑,外界基于中国对朝有“特殊影响力”的惯性认识,对中国是否真心实意遏止朝核局势螺旋下滑多有质疑和批评。

美国新美国安全中心2017年初成立的美国未来制裁措施特别行动小组Future of U.S. Sanctions Task Force96日就如何有效实施对朝制裁向特朗普政府提出对策建议时对中国履行“对朝制裁责任”的状况作了评估,其结论反映了美方的内部认知:中国在执行对朝制裁决议方面不尽如人意。一方面原因在于中朝间特殊的关系使中国打击朝鲜贸易活动的政治意愿并不强;另一方面原因在于中国广泛存在的“腐败现象”,特别是边境地区的边防及其他公安力量的腐败。新美国安全中心的这份报告还称,中国需要做出清晰的政治表态,表明其将全面履行新一轮对朝制裁决议,并将采取协调一致的行动强化对制裁决议的遵守,包括调配更多中央资源赴中朝边境地区执行货物审查,以确保受禁贸易在边境地区被彻底阻止。由于朝鲜90%的对外贸易来自中朝贸易,让中国公司及海关遵守所有对朝相关制裁法案和决议是制裁措施能否成功的关键。[35]

面对朝核形势的紧张化和外界对中国作用的质疑,中方展现出“乱云飞渡”中的从容,积极阐明立场,点明朝核矛盾实质,主动提出以“双暂停”和双轨并行为主要内容的破题方案,促谈阻战。同时,从自身国家利益出发,坚持无核化和对话谈判和平解决问题大方向,全面、准确、认真、严格地执行联合国安理会有关决议,做半岛和平稳定的守护者和斡旋者。在这一过程中,中美沟通成为关键。

(一)与美方在最高层展开密集沟通和协调,对特朗普政府施加积极影响,促使美方立场向中方靠拢。

2017年,中国国家主席习近平与美国总统特朗普举行三次会晤、九次通话,朝核问题无一例外都是重要议题。

46日至7日,中国国家主席习近平赴美国佛罗里达州的海湖庄园与美国总统特朗普举行首次会晤。在朝鲜半岛核问题上,中方重申坚持半岛无核化、坚持维护半岛和平稳定、坚持通过对话协商解决问题。中方将继续全面执行联合国安理会涉朝决议。中方介绍了解决朝核问题的双轨并行思路和双暂停建议,希望找到复谈的突破口。中方重申反对美方在韩部署萨德反导系统。双方确认致力于实现半岛无核化目标,同意就半岛问题保持密切沟通与协调。双方还同意拓展在防扩散、打击跨国犯罪等全球性挑战上的合作。[36]

各方面消息显示,中国领导人在这次重要的两国元首会晤中花费较长时间就朝核问题的来龙去脉做了介绍,详细阐述了中方的立场主张,对美国新任领导人的认知起到了“教育”作用。特朗普412日接受《华尔街日报》专访时侧面证实了这一情况。他说,习主席“讲到了中国与朝鲜之间的历史。注意不是北朝鲜,而是整个朝鲜半岛。讲到了数千年的历史和很多次战争。事实上朝鲜半岛曾经是中国的一部分。在聆听了十分钟之后,我意识到事情没那么简单。[37]

118日至10日,美国总统特朗普对中国进行国事访问,两国元首就中美关系和共同关心的重大国际与地区问题坦诚、深入交换了意见。习近平主席全面阐述了中方在朝鲜半岛核问题上的一贯立场。双方同意致力于维护国际核不扩散体系,重申致力于实现全面、可核查、不可逆的半岛无核化目标,不承认朝鲜拥核国地位。双方认为朝鲜进行核导试验违反联合国安理会相关决议,同意继续通过全面、严格执行联合国安理会各项涉朝决议,对朝核导活动保持压力,同时推动通过对话谈判和平解决问题,解决各方合理关切。双方同意就下步半岛形势发展及中美应采取的措施保持沟通,并继续通过现有机制加强沟通与合作。双方强调在通过对话谈判最终解决半岛核问题上有共同目标,并致力于维护半岛和平稳定。[38]

119日两国元首共同会见记者时,习近平指出,中美双方重申坚定致力于实现半岛无核化,维护国际核不扩散体系。双方将致力于通过对话谈判解决半岛核问题,并愿同有关各方共同探讨实现半岛和东北亚长治久安的途径。特朗普在记者会上说,与中方共同承诺致力于朝鲜半岛无核化。

在朝核问题上,中美双方既有共同利益,也存在严重分歧。共识在于:双方都坚持朝鲜半岛无核化目标,反对朝鲜拥核,希望把朝鲜拉回谈判桌;都赞同为维护无核化目标需要对朝施加必要压力,包括国际制裁;都坚决反对核导技术和材料的扩散行为,支持维护国际不扩散体制的严肃性。分歧在于:美方认为所有选项都可以摆上桌面,坚持对朝加强武力威慑,不排除甚至还在不断强化军事解决的选项,并且在内心不肯实际放弃颠覆朝的目标;中方坚决反对军事解决选项,坚持半岛不战不乱主张,一再强调对话谈判和平解决朝核问题;美方认为中国可以在对朝施压方面发挥更实质作用,中方对美方向中国推卸责任、转嫁压力的作法始终保持警觉;美国心有旁骛,一直在借防范朝鲜的核导威胁向东北亚地区增加部署战略武器,特别是反导系统,破坏战略地区平衡;中国在处理朝核问题时必须兼顾自身的战略安全利益,考虑中美战略矛盾。不管怎样,中美作为在朝核问题上有重大利益的关键两方,在半岛危局之下加强了沟通协调。应该说,经过一年苦口婆心的努力,中方做工作取得了显著的成效,美方立场在向中方靠拢。

(三)支持联合国安理会作出进一步反应,同时釆取必要举措严格执行涉朝决议,切实发挥负责任大国作用。

对于联合国安理会通过的第23562375号决议,中方均投了赞成票。218日,中国商务部、海关总署发布公告,宣布从19日起本年度暂停进口朝鲜原产煤炭。814日,中国商务部、海关总署公告宣布从815日起全面禁止自朝鲜进口煤、铁、铁矿石、铅、铅矿石、水海产品。911日,中国人民银行向全行业发出通知,要求金融机构和非特定金融机构收到转发外交部关于执行联合国安理会相关决议的通知后,立即将决议名单所列个人、实体信息要素输入相关业务系统,开展回溯性审查。922日,中国商务部、海关总署发布公告,全面禁止自朝鲜进口纺织品,并禁止对朝鲜出口凝析油和液化天然气,同时将限制对朝鲜出口精炼石油产品。928日,中国商务部发出通知,朝鲜实体或个人在中国境内设立的中外合资经营企业、中外合作经营企业、外资企业应自联合国安理会第2375号决议通过之日起120天内关闭,中国企业在境外与朝鲜实体或个人设立的合资合作企业亦应按照上述安理会决议要求予以关闭。

同时,反对在安理会框架外实施单边制裁,尤其反对其他国家根据自己的国内法实施所谓“长臂管辖”,进行了必要的外交交涉。中国外交部发言人多次强调,作为原则,中国政府一贯全面、准确、认真执行联合国安理会决议,履行自身的国际义务。中方一贯反对在安理会框架外实施单边制裁,尤其反对任何其他国家根据其国内法对中方实体或个人实施“长臂管辖”。对于中国企业和个人,如果有违反联合国安理会决议的行为,一经查实我们会根据自己的国内法依法依规进行查处。我们强烈敦促美方立即纠正有关错误做法,以免影响双方在有关问题上的合作。

(三)就解决朝核问题提出“双暂停”“双轨并进”思路,虽在朝美韩三方均遭遇阻力,但总体上逐步得到国际社会认同。

38日,中国外交部长王毅在2017中人民政治协商会议第十二届全国委员会第五次会议第十二届全国人民代表大会第五次会议记者会上表示:为应对半岛危机,中方的建议是,作为第一步,朝鲜暂停核导活动、美韩也暂停大规模军演。通过双暂停,摆脱目前的安全困境,使各方重新回到谈判桌前来。之后,按照双轨并进思路,将实现半岛无核化和建立半岛和平机制结合起来,同步对等地解决各方关切,最终找到半岛长治久安的根本之策。王毅并指出,中方提出的这一思路抓住了半岛局势的症结,也完全符合联合国安理会有关决议要求。解决半岛核问题不能只有一手,需要两手并进。制裁是履行决议,促谈同样也是履行决议。[39]

428日,中国外交部长王毅在联合国安理会朝鲜半岛核问题部长级公开会上发言坦承“半岛形势逐渐失控”的危险态势,同时指出,不管形势如何变化,都应始终坚持两个基本方向:第一是坚持无核化的既定目标。第二是坚持对话谈判的解决道路。王毅进一步介绍了“双轨并行”思路和“双暂停”建议:“双轨并行”旨在按照同步对等原则,并行推进实现半岛无核化和建立半岛和平机制两条轨道,最终予以一并解决。“双暂停”倡议则是通过朝鲜暂停核导活动,美韩暂停大规模军演,推动双方回到谈判桌前,启动“双轨并行”的第一步。中方提出的上述方案使短期目标与长期目标相互结合,相辅相成,既侧重解决各方最紧迫的关切,又藉此铺设通往无核化的道路。王毅强调,当前最要紧的是把朝鲜核导开发的进程停下来。为此,我们有必要放下谁先谁后的较量,搁置谁对谁错的争论,从低垂的果实摘起,为半岛和平排雷止爆,为地区稳定创造条件。[40]

97日,也就是在朝鲜进行第六次核试验之后不到一周,王毅在北京与尼泊尔副总理兼外长马哈拉会谈后面对记者就朝核问题发表谈话说,朝鲜再次进行核试,严重违反安理会决议,冲击国际核不扩散体系,中方对此坚决反对。我们希望朝方认清形势,作出正确判断和选择,不要再一意孤行,不要再挑战国际社会的共识和底线。制裁施压只是解决问题的半把钥匙,而另外半把钥匙是对话谈判,只有将两者合二为一,才能真正打开半岛核问题之锁。[41]

921日,王毅出席第72届联合国大会一般性辩论并发表演讲,在谈及朝核问题时指出,中国始终是致力于和平的力量,为半岛核问题的和平解决做出了不懈努力。不管形势如何演变,不管需要多长时间,不管遇到什么困难,中国都将坚守半岛无核化的目标,坚持对话谈判的方向,坚定维护地区的和平稳定。[42]

中方的“双暂停”思路和“双轨并进”建议提出后,没有得到美韩朝三方的积极回应。

朝鲜方面强调,作为主权国家,有权发展用于捍卫自身独立与生存的核武器,只有在美国首先放弃敌视朝鲜的政策前提下,才有可能商谈暂停核试验。不过,朝方的基本思路与中方建议仍有不谋而合之处,正如朝鲜驻印度大使桂春英419日在印度接受媒体采访时所说:在一定条件下,我们愿意就冻结核试验和导弹问题展开对话,如果美国能够全面暂停,或者永久停止大规模军事演习,那么我们也可以暂停试验,让我们就和平解决朝鲜半岛问题展开对话。

朝鲜同时显示出对中国的怨气,年内除5月朝鲜派经济相金英才应邀出席北京“一带一路”国际合作高峰论坛外,中朝高级别互访实质中断,直至1117日至20日中共中央总书记习近平特使、中央对外联络部部长宋涛赴朝通报中共十九大精神并访问朝鲜。[43]

美、韩方面拒绝了“双暂停”建议。在联合国安理会38日为应对朝鲜导弹发展而召开的闭门磋商中,美国常驻联合国代表黑莉表示,朝鲜持续进行多次核试与导弹试射,这令美韩军演更显必要。同日,白宫发言人斯派塞称,美国将继续与韩国合作,确定其有必要的军事力量保卫自己。同日是,美国国务院发言人在记者会上说,美国对与朝鲜进行对话继续持开放态度,但朝鲜必须采取切实的无核化行动并停止挑衅行为;美韩联合军演是透明的,以防御为主要目的,过去40年来在联合部队司令部框架下定期、公开地举行,目的是保卫韩国、维护半岛稳定,展现了美国对盟友承诺;当前情况下暂停美韩联合军演不合时宜,也是不公平的。据俄罗斯卫星通讯社报道,美国常驻联合国代表黑莉94日表示,美国坚决反对有关朝鲜宣布暂停核试验和导弹发射,而韩美则停止举行联合军演的提议,“当一个‘流氓国家’用核武器和洲际弹道导弹威胁你的时候,你是不会采取降低战备水平这一步骤的。没有一个国家会这么做。”

622日,韩国外交部发言人赵俊赫在例行记者会上说,朝鲜核试验是违反国际规则的非法行为,不应与韩国合法自卫性军演挂钩。825日,韩国外长康京和在莫斯科与俄罗斯外长拉夫罗夫举行会晤后向记者说,呼吁朝鲜暂停核导活动、美韩暂停大规模军演的双暂停方案不可接受,这等于是“撑岸就船”。[44]不过,韩方并没有对“双暂停”“双轨并进”思路彻底关死大门,在内部对话和学术交流场合多次表示,过去对有关方案了解不够,其合理性无法忽略,需要加强研究。10月以后,中韩关系加速从“萨德”问题造成的困扰中转圜,与此同时文在寅政府加紧酝酿“新北方政策”,韩方立场和思路能否向中方靠近有待进一步观察。

 

五、俄罗斯在朝核问题上发挥协调作用的积极性明显上升,未来将成为对话谈判和平解决朝鲜半岛一系列问题的重要渠道。

苏联解体后,俄罗斯对朝鲜半岛安全事务一度采取冷观不介入的立场,同时主要是出于经济利益考量积极发展对韩国的关系。2000年普京出任俄罗斯总统后,在大国复兴战略和“东向”政策指导下,逐渐加大对朝鲜半岛事务的关注与投入,曾经试图在六方会谈进程中以与美、中平等的身份发挥斡旋作用,参与推动解决朝鲜半岛和东北亚安全问题进程。国际上流传,20007月普京访朝时,曾与金正日达成过一项口头协议,其中包括朝同意有条件放弃导弹研制计划,而俄将扮演“担保人”角色。普京访朝后,俄力图给国际社会留下这样的印象,即只要有关各方积极努力,俄朝关于导弹问题的口头协议有可能变为正式协议。200210月,朝鲜承认秘密研制核武器,此后美朝对立升级,俄罗斯选择“不偏袒任何一方”的政策,既表示尊重朝希望保证其安全的合理要求,也对美为防止核扩散所做的努力予以理解,劝朝放弃核计划。从2006年至今,俄罗斯始终站在核不扩散的立场上,明确反对朝鲜核试行为,呼吁朝放弃核武计划、实施“核冻结”,同时表示愿向朝提供所需技术,助朝和平利用核能,推动朝经济社会正常发展。但俄经常采取外交手段,阻止或拖延联合国安理会对朝制裁决议的通过,同时反对对朝实施单边制裁。从2014年起,俄对朝试核射导行为的谴责趋于强烈,指责朝破坏世界防止大规模杀伤性武器扩散的努力。

在国际社会和美西方对朝制裁逐渐收紧的过程中,俄罗斯保留了自己的对朝人道援助和经贸合作渠道,并且设法在联合国安理会制裁决议之外拓展与朝合作空间。2014年俄罗斯议会通过法案,免去朝欠俄的90%历史债务,从根本上扫除了俄朝经济合作的障碍。20144月俄负责远东开发事务的副总理兼总统驻远东联邦区全权代表特鲁特涅夫访朝,向朝无偿提供消防车、粮食、药品等;10月朝鲜外相李洙墉访俄,俄方宣布向朝提供5万吨粮援。20142015年,俄向朝提供近10万吨小麦援助。201632日联合国安理会通过第2270号决议的前一天,俄将2500吨小麦运抵朝鲜,通过联合国世界粮食计划署捐赠朝鲜,同时确认将扩大对朝鲜劳动力的引进以支持俄远东超前经济发展区建设(目前在俄务工朝鲜人超过3万人)。2017517日朝鲜客货船万景峰号从朝鲜东北部经济特区罗先罗津港首航出发,次日抵达俄罗斯海参崴港,俄朝首条定期海运航线开通。20179月朝鲜第六次核试验之后,俄总统普京拒绝了韩国总统文在寅希望俄对朝实施石油禁运的要求,并在东方经济论坛上表态说,如果切断对朝石油供给,可能会让朝普通人民和医院等机构遭受损害,“不该将朝赶入死角”。

经过一段时间的运作,冷战后形成的俄罗斯在朝鲜半岛地位“边缘化”趋势得到遏制,俄罗斯的朝鲜半岛政策重新建立起较为系统的政治、经济、安全架构,目前呈现更加积极主动的势头,其战略考虑主要有:第一,不希望朝鲜半岛局势动荡,以免波及俄远东地区稳定和发展,并使俄承受难民潮。第二,借用朝鲜、韩国、中国的力量,在半岛总体维持非战状态的情况下,落实与朝曾经达成的将西伯利亚铁路与半岛南北相连接的协议、改造韩国仁川-朝鲜清津-俄符拉迪沃斯托克的铁路等项目、俄油气进入半岛、助朝改造老工业基地、借用朝鲜劳力发展俄远东、吸引韩向俄更多投资等规划。第三,担心朝鲜拥核刺激日本、韩国发展核武,朝核武器和技术外泄扩散到国际恐怖分子手中,从而殃及俄安全利益。第四,抵御美国借口应对朝鲜核导威胁而在东亚加紧强化战略优势的行为,这是俄方在半岛安全问题上的核心关切。[45]

普京治下的俄罗斯毕竟目前正面临内外多重困境,与美国的关系还在不断恶化,并无充足精力和资源投入朝鲜半岛。也正是基于此,并且受中俄全面战略协作伙伴关系不断加强趋势的驱动,俄罗斯日益积极主动地与中国就半岛和东北亚事务加强政策沟通和立场协调,寻求与中国有关问题上的相互借重与支持。201774日,中俄两国外交部就朝鲜半岛问题发表联合声明,强调双方以中方关于朝鲜暂停核导活动和美韩暂停大规模联合军演“双暂停”倡议、实现半岛无核化和建立半岛和平机制“双轨并行”思路以及俄方解决半岛问题分步走设想为基础,提出共同倡议。双方也重申在东北亚地区部署“萨德”系统严重损害域内国家战略安全利益,敦促有关国家立即停止并取消相关部署,并且商定将采取必要措施,切实维护中俄两国安全利益和地区战略平衡。[46]

 

六、结语

2017年的朝鲜半岛形势总体呈现前三个季度不断螺旋上升、深秋以后相对静默但年底又重新回弹的的线条。自915日最后一次射导至1129日进行新的洲际弹道导弹试射,朝鲜连续74天没有明显可监测到的核导活动。一般估计,造成“静默”的主要原因有三:第一,朝鲜对特朗普政策的对朝政策趋向难以形成清晰的判断,对中国将采取什么样的朝核应对也缺少把握,需要时间观察、思考。第二,因手中核导材料前段密集消耗,加上外界制裁不断收紧,朝鲜不得不降低核导活动密度。第三,第六次核试验后,朝鲜丰溪里核试验场接连发生两次造成地震震感的山体垮塌[47],说明核试验场附近山体结构经过近年连串地下核试验损毁严重,原试验场能否承受新的核试需要重新评估,备用试验场的启用也需要时间。

但“静默”并不等于朝鲜准备暂停核导活动,相反,朝鲜仍在继续显示其不屈意志,其核导技术进步也仍未到达终点,需要通过新的试验加以推进。923日,针对特朗普在联合国大会上发出的对朝战争威吓,以及金正恩以朝鲜国务委员会委员长身份所发声明表示的“朝鲜将慎重考虑采取史上最高级别的超强硬应对措施”,正在纽约出席联大的朝鲜外相李勇浩表示,这可能是在考虑“在太平洋上试验史上最强的氢弹”。1129日凌晨,朝鲜在平安南道一带向朝鲜半岛东部海域试射一枚“火星-15”远程弹道导弹,又一次采取了抬高弹道的发射方式,最大飞行高度达到4500千米,飞行距离960千米,由此可估算出发动机关机速度约为7.2千米,正常仰角发射最大射程可达12000千米。另据美国“38度北”网站援引俄罗斯媒体报道,朝鲜新浦市的造船企业近来非常活跃,可能正筹备进行新的潜射导弹试射,以谋求建立似于苏联上世纪50年代基于柴动力潜艇的海上核力量。[48]

就在完成火星-15导弹试射的同日,朝鲜政府发表声明宣布:金正恩观摩了新型洲际弹道火箭火星-15'型试射成功,并自豪地宣布,完善国家核力量的历史大业、火箭强国事业今天终于完成。

12月8日,英国《卫报》报道,俄罗斯外交部长拉夫罗夫证实,朝鲜已经通过俄方向美方传话,希望与美国进行对话。拉夫罗夫表示,朝鲜方面的信息称,朝鲜同美国就核僵局进行直接对话的大门是打开的,并且向华盛顿寻求安全保证。拉夫罗夫7日在维也纳出席会议之便向美国国务卿蒂勒森转达了朝鲜的要求,蒂勒森没有立即就此作出回应。

在朝鲜最新一轮导弹活动前后,美国没有显示出任何放缓对朝施加制裁压力和战略威慑的迹象。

2017113日至14日特朗普访问日本、韩国、中国并赴越南出席亚太经合组织领导人非正式会议、赴菲律宾出席东亚峰会,朝核问题成为此访核心议题之一,全程渲染朝鲜核导开发的“全球威胁”,要求东亚各国对朝鲜加大经济制裁和外交孤立,也力促俄罗斯对朝施压。

1120日,特朗普宣布将朝鲜重新列入美国的“支持恐怖主义国家”名单[49],与伊朗、苏丹、叙利亚并列。特朗普并说,朝鲜不是一个国家,而是恐怖组织。1121日,美国财政部宣布,为了打击与朝鲜有长期商业关系的第三方和帮助朝鲜创收的运输网络,批准对13个实体、20艘船舶和一名商人施加经济制裁(包括中国丹东东源实业公司在内的4家中国贸易公司及1名个人也被美国列入制裁名单)。

12月4日至8日,美韩举行警戒王牌年度大规模联合空中演习,两军从8个基地出动约240架飞机参演。

针对朝鲜的对话要求,美国政府释放出含混的信号。美国国务卿蒂勒森12月12日在华盛顿大西洋理事会发表演讲时回答现场提问时说,朝鲜再次发射洲际弹道导弹显示,朝鲜有能力继续推进其核导项目,所以美国需要朝鲜重返谈判桌,美国已准备好在朝鲜愿意的时候与其展开首次无条件对话,但首先朝鲜要回到谈判桌前,显示出想要做出不同的选择。美国在朝核问题上的立场非常清楚,即要求朝鲜半岛实现全面、可验证的无核化,目前美国对朝最大程度施压的努力已经见效。虽然美国军队时刻保持警觉,但外交努力不到最后一刻绝不停下。

但是,白宫国家安全委员会官员次日接受媒体采访时表示,美国政府内部一致坚持,任何与朝鲜的谈判必须等到朝鲜政权基本上改善态度。正如同国务卿自己所言,至少要包含以下条件:不能再有核导试爆和导弹试射。该官员明确表示,鉴于朝鲜最近试射导弹,现在并非(谈判)时机。白宫的这一谈话事实上否认了蒂勒森的对朝言语松动。

随后,美国继续向盟友和中国施压要求更严格实施对朝限制封锁措施,这包括要求中国全部停止对朝石油输送。

特朗普政府的上述举动正式确认美国将继续奉行对朝敌视政策,无意放松极限施压政策,加深了朝鲜对美国的敌意判断,至少在2017年内关闭了朝核复谈的机会之窗

12月22日,联合国安理会一致通过了第2397号决议,适度强化对朝制裁措施。这份决议规定,自2018年1月1日起要求朝鲜将每年成品油进口数量从200万桶削减至50万桶,同时要求朝鲜原油进口数量不能超过每年400万桶上限。决议还禁止从朝鲜购买食品、农产品、机床和机电设备(朝鲜相关出口额约为2亿美元),重申限期遣返朝鲜的海外务工人员等。决议并写明,若朝鲜再次强行实施核试验或发射洲际导弹,将进一步限制石油出口。特朗普发推特对决议通过表示欢迎,称世界要求和平而不是死亡

朝核问题的发展态势表明,这一问题已经进入新的阶段。从朝核问题发展历程所展现的规律看,大致可将其发展前景归为三种:一是朝鲜在外部压力之下回归谈判,其核导能力发展进入阶段性停摆状态;二是朝核僵局延续,朝鲜效仿印度和巴基斯坦拥核模式,在重压之下成功拥核;三是朝鲜半岛出现导致危机事态或者军事冲突。[50]

2017430日,中国全国人大外事委员会主任委员、中国社科院国家全球战略智库首席专家傅莹通过美国布鲁金斯学会发表长文《朝鲜核问题:过去、现在和未来——中国的视角》。文章详细梳理朝核谈判经纬,指出六方会谈曾经达成《9·19共同声明》《2·13共同文件》和《10·3共同文件》,凝聚了各方最大共识,为政治解决提供了路线图。会谈的破裂恰是因为达成的共识和协议得不到贯彻执行,而会谈停滞后才出现朝核问题不断升级,形成制裁-试验-再制裁-再试验的恶性循环。在展望前景时,傅莹的文章不排除“拖下去”的可能,即制裁升级和朝鲜核导试验相互刺激的循环反复出现,直到朝鲜核导技术达到临界点。文章同时指出,朝鲜发展核导技术一步一个台阶,朝核问题现状和谈判基点已远远脱离2003年启动六方会谈时的原点。若能再度恢复对话,各方能否现实、理性地接受这一事实,不预设任何前提地谈起来,将是决定对话能否成功的重要因素。[51]

如果上述历史逻辑线条仍然有效,对于今后一个时期的朝核问题形势走向可以做出几点阶段性的判断:

(一)朝鲜的拥核意志无法回头,决心冲破阻挠成为事实上的核国家。朝鲜的核导计划目标是拥核保安全,以有核国家和具备远程导弹发射能力的事实状态,强化自己的谈判地位,与美国直接商谈朝鲜半岛未来安排。这种最高目标的设定超越核导计划本身给朝鲜带来的一切困难和压力,是朝鲜核心利益所在。对朝制裁仅能完成有限目标,经济措施难以实现安全目标,政治和安全目标更多地要靠政治和安全手段来实现。

(二)特朗普政府处理朝鲜核导问题的思路没有脱离美国长期以来以拖待变、以压促变的基本轨道,内心不大可能放弃长期以来改变朝体制和政权的终极期待,同时执意将向朝施压弃核的责任推卸给中国,逼迫中国为其“火中取栗”,显示出美国并无解决朝核问题的诚意。

(三)美国对朝动武的军事准备工作日臻完善,但近期主动掀起对朝战事的可能性不大,这一方面是因为特朗普政府强调“美国优先”,需集中主要精力处理内部事务,不愿在海外轻启战端,另一方面是因为任何对朝军事手段---无论是有限军事打击还是大规模乃至全面战争行为,后果都难以预料和控制。同时,美国认为经济和政治施压的手段仍未穷尽,中国、俄罗斯的作用也仍未穷尽。

但随着美国国内政治的进一步发生变化,如果朝鲜继续采取刺激性试核射导举措,以及半岛南北之间或东北亚地区朝美、朝日之间突发重大意外军事摩擦和冲突,形势急转直下的可能性是存在的,特别是在特朗普首个总统任期进入尾声、谋求连任的国内政治需要急剧上升之际。朝鲜半岛发生军事冲突、武力解决朝核问题的风险持续上升,这是一个基本趋势。

(四)半岛无核化看似走入“死胡同”,但除朝鲜外的相关各方推动半岛无核化的方向仍保持一致,超越它们在朝核问题上的利益分歧和差异,和平仍有机会。朝鲜拥核将带来一系列连锁反应,包括刺激日本、韩国的“核武装说”,使亚洲成为一片“核丛林”,严重威胁国际核不扩散体制的严肃性,仅从这一角度来说,“默认”朝鲜拥核不具名义上的可取性。

(五)中国对朝鲜影响力仍在历史低谷中徘徊,这是因为两国围绕核问题产生了根本性的战略分歧,也是因为双方在发展道路、治理模式、对外部世界的基本判断等方面渐行渐远。年内中国与韩国关系因“萨德”部署问题发生严重倒退,至今仍在艰难重建。而在中国国内,围绕朝核问题产生根源、应对方式、解决路径的认知也仍存在分歧,至少在公众意识层面是这样。这些情况限制了中国在朝鲜半岛问题上影响力的发挥,影响了中国围绕朝核问题进行斡旋调解的效果。事实证明,中国要想保持在朝鲜半岛的独特作用,须与直接相关各方均保持基本良好的关系。

(六)朝核问题的博弈格局已经前所未有地复杂化了。可以说,朝美矛盾是这一问题的核心矛盾,中美、俄美、中朝、朝韩之间的复杂微妙甚至竞争敌对关系也深刻影响着问题的走向。在解决朝核问题的过程中,朝美对话最具决定意义,中美协调甚为关键,俄罗斯的作用则在上升。俄罗斯拥有核武库和巨大的地缘战略空间,朝核问题同样是俄罗斯的周边问题。不能不说,朝鲜在利用中美俄在半岛问题上的利益和认知差异推进核计划。尽管近期中美在一定程度上的合作对朝鲜构成了威慑,但如果中美俄三国之间不能形成共识,朝核问题被各方工具化,最终可能导致大国协调失败。[52]

中国提出双暂停、双轨并进对话谈判和平解决朝核问题的思路,是基于主持六方会谈多年斡旋朝核问题得出的经验,其精髓就是2005年第四轮六方会谈达成的“9·19共同声明”规定的原则,也凝聚了各方曾经有过的共识。更重要的是,“双轨并进”思路体现了一种基本认识:在推动解决朝核问题的努力中,绝不应只强调施压制裁的一面,不采取对话谈判的行动,而对话谈判和平解决是朝核问题唯一应有的方向。

对中国而言,需要厘清自己在朝核问题上的利益和价值,一切从中国自身根本的国家利益和人民福祉出发,根据事情本身的是非曲直决定应对之策。这种政策选择既不应是绝对理想主义的,也不应是纯粹现实主义的。这种政策选择既不应是与历史割裂的,也不应是拘泥于历史的、深陷于历史的。这种政策虽不应是唯中国利益是图的,但绝不应是大讲国际主义而忽略中国自身利益的,当然也不应是违背人类文明进步基本方向和世界和平与安全共同价值取向的。

正如傅莹《朝鲜核问题:过去、现在和未来》一文指出的,在半岛问题上,中国的利益在于确保无核化和防止东北亚乃至亚太的和平安全环境遭到破坏,中国的责任在于积极主动发挥作用,以和平方式实现上述目标,最终达成半岛和平协议,与各方共同努力营造一个和平、合作的地区环境。同时,中国也要坚决防止半岛发生大的动荡和战乱。只有坚持对话,用安全换安全,才能走出东北亚安全局势的怪圈死结本文系中国社会科学院地区安全研究中心资助项目、国际战略研究丛书《中国周边安全形势评估(2017)》(张洁主编)约稿,完成于20171130日,更新于1230日。该书将由社会科学文献出版社于2018年初出版。本文亦为中国国际经济交流中心课题阶段性成果。



*安刚,《世界知识》杂志编辑、盘古智库高级研究员。本文亦为中国国际经济交流中心课题阶段性成果。

[1]《洲际弹道火箭可携带的氢弹试验完全成功》,朝中社,2017-9-3http://www.kcna.kp/kcna.user.article.retrieveNewsViewInfoList.kcmsf#this

[2]DPRK SEPT. 2017 unsuaual seismic event, CTBTO, 2017-11-27, http://www.ctbto.org/the-treaty/developments-after-1996/2017-sept-dprk/

[3]North Korea’s Sixth Nuclear Test: A First Look38 NORTH2017-9-5http://www.38north.org/2017/09/punggye090517/ ; North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site: Satellite Imagery Shows Post-Test Effects and New Activity in Alternate Tunnel Portal Areas, 38North, 2017-9-12, http://www.38north.org/2017/09/punggye091217/

[4]赵连锋等:《研究快报: 201793日朝鲜地下核试验地震学鉴别、深度和当量估计的初步调查结果》,中国科学院地质与地球物理研究所,2017-9-4http://www.igg.cas.cn/xwzx/kyjz/201709/t20170904_4854427.html

[5]朝鲜核弹威力到底有多大?》,日经中文网,2017-9-6https://cn.nikkei.com/politicsaeconomy/politicsasociety/26882-2017-09-06-16-20-30.html

[6]俄罗斯卫星通讯社10月20日报道。

[7] 《金正恩称火星-12型导弹已形成战斗力》,新华社,2017-9-16http://news.xinhuanet.com/mil/2017-09/16/c_129705735.htm

[8] 《朝鲜宣布第二次成功试射洲际弹道导弹》,新华社,2017-7-29http://news.xinhuanet.com/world/2017-07/29/c_1121399102.htm

[9]郑继永:《朝鲜劳动党七届二中全会揭示了什么》,《世界知识》,2017年第21期。

[10]Joel S. Wit Sun Young Ahn, North Korea’s Nuclear Futures: Technology and Strategy, 2015-2-26, http://www.38north.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/NKNF_NK-Nuclear-Futures.pdf

[11]Ellen Nakashima,Anna FifieldandJoby Warrick, North Korea could cross ICBM threshold next year, U.S. officials warn in new assessment ,  2017-7-25, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/north-korea-could-cross-icbm-threshold-next-year-us-officials-warn-in-new-assessment/2017/07/25/4107dc4a-70af-11e7-8f39-eeb7d3a2d304_story.html?utm_term=.1ac1151ca720

[12]Joby WarrickEllen Nakashima and Anna Fifield, North Korea now making missile-ready nuclear weapons, U.S. analysts say,2017-8-8, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/north-korea-now-making-missile-ready-nuclear-weapons-us-analysts-say/2017/08/08/e14b882a-7b6b-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html?utm_term=.d634ac7a396b

[13]David Albright, North Korea’s Nuclear Capabilities: A Fresh Look - with Power Point SlidesAugust 9, 2017http://isis-online.org/isis-reports/detail/north-koreas-nuclear-capabilities-a-fresh-look-power-point-slides/10

Testimony of David Albright,President of the Institute for Science and International Security,before the Monetary and Trade Subcommittee of the Committee on Financial ServicesHearing Title: “A Legislative Proposal to Impede North Korea’s Access to Finance” 2017-9-13http://isis-online.org/uploads/conferences/documents/Testimony_of_David_Albright_13_Sept2017_Final.pdf

[14]Brigid Andersen, North Korea could have nuclear missile capable of hitting US west coast within four years: former CIA officer ABC NEWS2017-4-12http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-12/will-us-north-korea-tensions-lead-to-nuclear-war3f/8437716

[15]Т.Б.Аничкина, В.И.Есин, ЯДЕРНЫЕ ВОЗМОЖНОСТИ КНДРЯДЕРНЫЕ ВОЗМОЖНОСТИ КНДР№1, 2016http://www.rusus.ru/?act=read&id=478#_edn50··叶辛:《在俄罗斯眼中,朝鲜的核导能力有多大》,《世界知识》,2017年第23期。

[16]现行核秩序从冷战时期美苏两个平行核不扩散体制演变而来,核不扩散体制、核军备控制、核裁军是其主要构成,旨在对核活动与核武器进行规范。在这套秩序中,国家身份的差别导致主权国家在实力等级、地位以及权利和义务上存在差异,美、俄、中、英、法等在196711日前制造并爆炸了核武器或其他核装置的国家是有核武器国家,其他国家是无核武器国家,而那些事实上已经或曾经跨过核门槛的无核武器国家同时被视为核武装国家,真正无核武器的国家和事实上的核武装国家都理应受到《不扩散核武器条约》全面安全保障制度的约束,在核能利用方面接受国际原子能机构的监督。参见王海凡:《国际秩序与朝鲜核问题研究》,延边大学历史学博士学位论文,20156月;李彬:《默认朝鲜为核武器国家,选项是否存在》,《世界知识》,2017年第21期。

[17]《国际原子能机构对朝鲜核计划继续表示严重关切》,联合国新闻,2017-6-12http://www.un.org/chinese/News/story.asp?NewsID=28219&Kw1=%E5%AE%89%E7%90%86%E4%BC%9A&Kw2=&Kw3=

[18]MICHAEL D. SWAINE,Time to Accept Reality and Manage a Nuclear-Armed North Korea, carnegie endowment for international peace, 2017-9-11http://carnegieendowment.org/2017/09/11/time-to-accept-reality-and-manage-nuclear-armed-north-korea-pub-73065

[19]《文在寅表示不赞同韩国拥核武》,新华社,2017-9-15http://news.xinhuanet.com/2017-09/15/c_1121666024.htm

[20]《美总统国安事务助理:特朗普不会让朝鲜有能力威胁美国》,中国新闻网,2017-4-16 http://www.chinanews.com/gj/2017/04-16/8200871.shtml

[21]1010日,美国国务院发言人诺尔特说,外交手段仍是美国在处理朝核问题上的首选方式。她同时表示,尽管没人喜欢军事手段,但这仍然是美国的备选项。参见:《美国务卿:特朗普希望优先通过外交手段解决朝核问题》,新华网,2017-10-16http://news.xinhuanet.com/mil/2017-10/16/c_129721073.htm?from=groupmessage

[22]分别引自国务院负责东亚和太平洋事务的代理助理国务卿董云裳727日在国会作证的证词;美军参谋长联席会议主席邓福德926日在国会参议院军事委员会作证的证词;国防部长马蒂斯96日访印期间接受采访、109日在美国陆军协会(AUSA)的年度大会上的演讲。

[23]美联社、《华盛顿邮报》414日相关报道;刘卿,《特朗普政府亚太政策及走向》,《国际问题研究》,2017年第4期。

[24]Michael PeckOPLAN 5015: The Secret Plan for Destroying North Korea (and Start World War III?) The National Interest, 2017-5-11

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/oplan-5015-the-secret-plan-destroying-north-korea-start-19747Michael PeckHere Is America's Battle Plan for Destroying North KoreaThe National Interest, 2017-8-29http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/here-americas-battle-plan-destroying-north-korea-22096?page=2

[25]Paul Sonne/Felicia Schwartz:《美国在全球孤立朝鲜的行动初见成效》,华尔街日报中文网,2017-10-9http://cn.wsj.com/gb/20171009/bgh101021.asp

[26]Jeremy Diamond and Zachary Cohen, “Trump: I’d be ‘Honored’ to Meet Kim Jong Un under ‘Right Circumstances’,”CNN, 2017-5-1, http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/01/politics/donald-trump-meet-north-korea-kim-jong-un.2017625日)

[27]《外媒:特朗普要"最大限度"对朝施压称战略忍耐已结束》,参考信息网,2017-11-7http://www.cankaoxiaoxi.com/world/20171107/2242169.shtml

[28]Max Greenwood,“Tillerson on North Korea: Our Goal is not Regime Change” , The Hill, 2017-4-28 http://thehill.com/policy/international/331055-tillerson-calls-for-new-un-pressure-on-north-korea

[29] 201758日外交部发言人耿爽主持例行记者会》,外交部网站,2017-5-8http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/fyrbt_673021/t1459609.shtml

[30]事实上,这种1.5轨对话在特朗普上任后不久,即20172月就由朝方发出试探并开始筹备,但当时尚未进入状态的特朗普政府拒绝了崔善熙的赴美签证申请。

[31]Benjamin Lee, “Trump’s First 100 Days in Asia: Continuities and Discontinuities in Trump’s Asia Policy” , The Diplomat, 2017-4-28https://thediplomat.com/2017/04/trumps-first-100-days-in-asia/

[32]此为韩国银行数据,朝鲜官方的统计数据是20152015年连续两年增长4.5%

[33]综合联合国粮农组织(FAO)和世界粮食计划署(WFP)报告和韩联社1221日有关报道。朝鲜中央通讯社20161219日援引朝鲜劳动党中央委员会18日《关于从今年61日起开展的200天战斗1215日胜利结束的新闻公报》则宣称该年朝鲜获得罕见大丰收。朝中社2017411日以《朝鲜内阁2016年工作情况和2017年任务》为题报道说2016年朝鲜粮食生产突破最高生产年度水平

[34]John Rogin, Trump’s North Korea policy is “maximum pressure”but not “regime change”, The Washington Post, 2017-4-14https;//www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2017/04/14/trumps-north-korea-policy-is-massive-pressure-but-not-regime-change/?utm_term=.1bf35bb3139e

[35]吴天昊:《美国对朝核问题的政策建议——来自美国智库的声音》,中美印象网站,2017-9-28(原文920日由大国策智库发布),http://www.uscnpm.com/model_item.html?action=view&table=article&id=14217

[36]《王毅介绍中美元首海湖庄园会晤情况》,外交部网站,2017-4-8http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/zyxw/t1452259.shtml

[37]WSJ Trump Interview Excerpts: China, North Korea, Ex-Im Bank, Obamacare, Bannon, More, the wall street journal, 2017-4-12,https://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2017/04/12/wsj-trump-interview-excerpts-china-north-korea-ex-im-bank-obamacare-bannon/

[38]《中美元首会晤达成多方面重要共识同意共同努力推动两国关系取得更大发展》,外交部网站,2017-11-9http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/zyxw/t1509111.shtml

[39]《王毅谈如何应对半岛危机:双暂停和双轨并进思路》,外交部网站,2017-3-8http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/zyxw/t1443990.shtml

[40]《王毅在朝鲜半岛核问题安理会部长级公开会上的发言(全文)》,新华网,2017-4-29http://news.china.com/news100/11038989/20170429/30471934.html

[41]王毅:《制裁和对话合二为一,才能打开半岛核问题之锁》,外交部网站,2017-9-7http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/wjbzhd/t1490867.shtml

[42]《王毅在第72届联合国大会一般性辩论上发表演讲》,外交部网站,2017-9-22http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/wjbzhd/t1495822.shtml

[43]据新华社发布的消息和中联部网站有关报道,宋涛访朝期间,1117日下午会见了朝鲜劳动党中央政治局常委、中央副委员长崔龙海18日会见了朝鲜劳动党中央政治局委员、党中央副委员长李洙墉,向朝方通报中共十九大的召开情况和主要精神。朝方祝贺中共十九大取得圆满成功,祝愿中国人民在以习近平同志为核心的中共中央领导下,在建设中国特色社会主义现代化强国、实现中华民族伟大复兴中国梦的进程中取得巨大成就。双方就中朝两党两国关系、朝鲜半岛问题等共同关心的问题交换了意见,表示将加强党际交往和沟通,推动中朝关系向前发展。宋涛还进行了有关参观考察,并赴桧仓中国人民志愿军烈士陵园祭扫。

 

[44]《韩国外交部:韩方反对以双暂停方案解决朝鲜问题》,俄罗斯卫星通讯社,2017-8-25http://sputniknews.cn/politics/201708251023450207/

[45]王郦久:《俄朝鲜半岛政策的调整与六方会谈》,《和平与发展》,2003年第4期;刘涛:《俄罗斯的朝鲜半岛政策及朝核应对:历史与现实逻辑》,《世界知识》,2017年第2021

[46]《中华人民共和国外交部和俄罗斯联邦外交部关于朝鲜半岛问题的联合声明》,外交部网站,2017-7-4 http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/ziliao_674904/1179_674909/t1475362.shtml

[47]第一次是在93日核试爆8分钟后距离爆炸原点约50公里处,也即北纬41.21度、东经129.18度发生的地震事件,第二次9231629分在北纬41.36度、东经129.06度位置发生,均可断定系人为因素造成的地震。

[48]38 North:North Korea’s Submarine Ballistic Missile Program Moves Ahead: Indications of Shipbuilding and Missile Ejection Testing, 2017-11-16, http://www.38north.org/2017/11/sinpo111617/

[49]美国曾于上世纪80年代末将朝鲜列入其支持恐怖主义国家名单。200810月,美布什政府根据美朝双方就朝核设施验证问题达成的协议,宣布将朝鲜从支持恐怖主义国家名单中除名。

 

[50]樊吉社,《特朗普政府对朝政策逻辑与朝核问题前景》,《现代国际关系》,2017年第7

[51]FU Ying, The Korean Nuclear Issue: Past,Present,and Future—A Chinese Perspective, Brookings, 2017-4-30

https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-korean-nuclear-issue-past-present-and-future/

 

[52]孙兴杰:《朝核问题需要中美俄三国协调》,FT中文网,2017-5-9http://www.ftchinese.com/story/001072498?page=rest&_da0.43529980001039803

 

 

The Nuclear Situation on the Korean Peninsula and China’s Responses in 2017

 

An Gang[1]

In 2017, tension from Korean Peninsula nuclear issue constantly escalated. Firstly, North Korea’s will and action to acquire nuclear capability appears stronger than ever: it conducted its sixth nuclear test, acted recklessly with trials of ballistic missiles, and quickly developed nuclear weapons, thus undermining the international non-proliferation regime and prompting stricter sanctions from the international community. Secondly, the Trump administration in the US continued to harden sanctions against North Korea, repeatedly signaled threats of force with its allies such as South Korea and Japan, and refused to negotiate with North Korea, sending tensions on the Peninsula spiraling upwards. Overall, among the security issues in the Asian-Pacific region, the North Korean nuclear issue has the highest risk of spinning out of control. The country, again, stands at a crossroads between war and peace. Although there is not yet a solution to the issue, considering that the situation on the Peninsula may affect its own security, strategic interests, and the relations between major regional powers, China proactively mediated among various parties and attempted to bring them back to the negotiating table. Despite little progress thus far, China acts as a constructive and responsible major power. At present, three possible futures are beckoning: negation, war, and endless delays, the last of which is already in effect. In the long run, engaging in dialogue to safeguard security is the only way to break the vicious cycle regarding the security of Northeast Asia.

 

I. North Korea’s nuclear weapon capability accelerates to approach the critical point at which nuclear weapons are combined with missiles, ready to establish systematic, strategic deterrence against the US and its allies.

(I) North Korea’s Sixth Nuclear Test

At approximately 11:30 a.m. Beijing time (12:00 a.m. North Korean time) on September 3rd, 2017, North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb at its northern nuclear test ground (Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site). This was the sixth nuclear test North Korea has conducted since 2006 and the largest in terms of explosive power (the nuclear yield was equivalent to about 200 kilotons of TNT), as well as the second hydrogen bomb (H-bomb) test as stated by North Korean authorities (the first one was conducted on January 6th, 2016). The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the test was carried out “to examine and confirm the accuracy and credibility of the power control technology and internal structural design newly introduced into manufacturing an H-bomb to be placed as the payload of the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).” The test results once again confirmed the reliability of a concentration-type nuclear detonation control system, fully verified through a nuclear warhead detonation test and test-launches of various ballistic rockets. It concluded that “the test of the H-bomb for ICBM achieved a perfect success,” that “the design and production technology of nuclear weapons of the DPRK has been put on a high level to adjust its destructive power in consideration of the targets and purposes,” and that “it also marked a very significant occasion in attaining the final goal of completing the state nuclear force.”[2]

On the morning of September 3rd, KCNA reported that North Korea’s paramount leader Kim Jong-un inspected the country’s Nuclear Weapons Institute. During the visit, Kim stated that all components of the H-bomb were 100 percent homemade, and that all the processes ranging from the production of weapons-grade nuclear materials to precision processing of components and their assembly were developed within North Korea, thus enabling the country to produce as many powerful nuclear weapons as it wants. Pictures of leader Kim Jong-un inspecting the new thermonuclear device accompanied the report, indicating that North Korea’s nuclear weapon program was not a strategic deception.

The earthquake magnitude measured this time was higher than those of the previous five tests. The China Earthquake Networks Center placed the magnitude of the first earthquake, which occurred at 11:30 a.m. on September 3rd, at 6.3 and the location of its epicenter at 41.35 degrees north latitude and 129.11 degrees east longitude, with a depth of zero km. The global monitoring system of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) initially placed the magnitude at 5.8-6.0, and later revised it to 6.1[3]. Website 38 North at Johns Hopkins University in the US estimated that the yield was equivalent to more than 100 kilotons of TNT, and later suggested the bomb’s yield could have been up to 250 kilotons.[4] The Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, observed the earth volume accumulated on the nuclear test ground with satellite pictures and estimated the digging depth to be 1-2.4 km, equivalent to an explosion of 100-200 kilotons of TNT[5]. Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera told the press that the estimated size of North Korea’s sixth nuclear test was a yield of around 160 kilotons, more than 10 times the size of the Hiroshima bomb.[6] Various parties suggested that this might be an H-bomb test, and the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission of South Korea said it found traces of radioactive xenon gas in the country after North Korea’s test. However, public sources showed that no one could provide sufficient evidence of an actual H-bomb test.

On September 13th, President David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) stated in the hearing held by the US Senate Committee on Appropriations that the yield of North Korea’s sixth nuclear test was much higher than that of the previous five ones, suggesting that it was some type of thermonuclear device used to increase the yield of fission design. However, the US should be skeptical of North Korea’s claim that this test was a miniaturized two-stage thermonuclear device. Additionally, since the device in the picture distributed by North Korean press did not provide more detail than that which is readily available to the general public, it was likely more aimed at spreading propaganda. To produce powerful miniaturized two-stage thermonuclear weapons and design more efficient fission weapons and fission-boosted weapons that use less plutonium or weapon-grade uranium per kiloton of explosion, North Korea is likely to conduct more underground tests, explore more optimized one-stage thermonuclear weapons, and develop more tailored electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons.[7]

Russia believed that North Korea’s sixth nuclear test was not an H-bomb test, and elaborated on this viewpoint at the consultation held by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in response to the test.

(II) North Korea’s Intense Ballistic Missile Trials

North Korea conducted eight major ballistic missile trials in 2017, including six Hwasong-12 launches and two Hwasong-14 launches.

North Korea tested Hwasong-12, a new type of surface-to-surface intermediate-range ballistic missile, on April 15th, April 16th, April 29th, May 14th, August 28th, and September 15th, respectively. The missile was first revealed to the international community on April 14th, 2017, in a military parade celebrating the Day of the Sun, the 105th birthday of North Korea’s founding President, Kim Il-sung. Of the six launches, Kim Jong-un guided the latter three launches on the spot. In the first test, the missile traveled a range of 60 km with an apogee of 189 km, and landed in the Sea of Japan approximately nine minutes later. In the second test, the missile was reported to have exploded within several seconds after launch. The missile in the third test reportedly flew 30-odd km before exploding. Later on May 14th, North Korea conducted its fourth trial, after which North Korean state media played up the success, claiming that the missile was fired on a lofted trajectory with an apogee of 2,111.5 km, landing 787 km away in the open ocean as expected. Nevertheless, North Korean media did not report on the trial on August 28th. South Korea and the US believed that the Hwasoong-12 missile in this test flew a total of 2,700 km and failed to land in the North Pacific as expected. For the trial on September 15th, the KCNA reported that the missile was fired on the intended trajectory, flew over Hokkaido, and then precisely landed on the targeted waters of the Pacific Ocean. “The test examined the order in how to deal with nuclear warheads, confirmed action procedures for actual war, and thus was of very great meaning in increasing combat power of the nuclear force.”[8]

North Korea tested a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4th and another on July 28th. According to the KCNA reports, Kim Jong-un guided the launches on the spot and both trials were successful. South Korean press, citing monitoring information from the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as analysis and assessment of relevant experts, revealed that the missile launched on July 4th reached an altitude of 2,300 km and a lateral distance of over 930 km; if fired on a standard trajectory, the missile might have a range of 6,000 km, meaning it could potentially reach the US soil similar to an intercontinental ballistic missile. According to the technical specifications of the July 28th trial revealed by North Korean authorities, the missile reached as high as 3,724.9 km and flew 998 km for 47 minutes and 12 seconds before landing in targeted international waters. This showed that North Korea was capable of launching intercontinental ballistic missiles anywhere and anytime, and that “the entire US was within North Korea’s striking range.”[9]

Meanwhile, North Korea conducted several tests of medium-range missiles in 2017, including the launch of Pukguksong-2, a solid-fuel medium-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile, on February 12th (the first missile launch of North Korea in 2017 and the first trial of Pukguksong-2), the launch of Hwasong-7 medium-range missiles on March 6th (four missiles at once), and the launch of the operational-tactical Hwasong-9 missile (a road-mobile missile with a modifiable end) on May 29th.

North Korea’s missile industry started in the mid-20th century based on Soviet missiles and technologies. It mainly manufactures short-range, medium-range, intermediate-range, and sub-marine launched missiles. The years after Kim Jong-un took power have witnessed an intense spate of missiles tests. Incomplete statistics suggest that North Korea conducted five launches of various missiles in 2013, 11 in 2015, 15 in 2014 and another 15 in 2016. It’s a fact: North Korea is accelerating its pace of verifying and showing “the reliability of its intercontinental ballistic missile systems,” with a significant increase in the success rate of its tests, in an effort to acquire atmospheric reentry technologies as soon as possible, achieve effective combat power, and complete the transition from medium-range missiles to long-range ones.

 (III) A Basic Assessment of the Advancement of Nuclear and Missile Capabilities of North Korea

Since 2006, North Korea has conducted six underground nuclear tests and tested dozens of ballistic missiles of various types, for the obvious purpose of developing its capabilities to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles which can carry different miniaturized nuclear warheads, and to form strategic deterrence against the US and its allies.

Corresponding with its rapidly advancing nuclear and missile technologies, North Korean leadership continuously reiterates its political will to firmly facilitate its nuclear and missile programs and consolidate its nuclear strategy. Following its constitutional amendment in April 2012, writing “Comrade Kim Jong Il turns our country into an indefectible nation in political ideology, a state with nuclear capabilities and an unconquerable military power, and paves the way to constructing a strong and prosperous country,” the 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in May 2016 set the principle of “simultaneously building nuclear force and pushing forward economic construction,” and raised three major policies as a “nuclear power”: no-first-use of nuclear weapons, fulfillment of non-proliferation duties, and endeavoring to a denuclearized world. On October 7th, 2017, Kim Jong-un stressed at the Second Plenary Meeting of the Seventh WPK Central Committee that under the current grim situation, the whole Party should unite as a whole to independently break sanctions and develop its economy with the power of scientific technologies, carry out the principle of simultaneously pushing forward economic construction and the building of nuclear force, and to “accomplish the historic mission of enhancing national nuclear force in an outstanding manner.” It is worth noting that the meeting tried to move beyond the nuclear issue itself and “normalize” its nuclear force. In other words, without exaggerating the importance of nuclear strategy, it attempts to turn the capabilities demonstrated in its six nuclear tests and dozens of missile launches into a “normal” that the world needed to adapt to, showing that North Korea is undeniably a “nuclear power” and its nuclear force is nonnegotiable.[10]

On April 15th, at the grand military parade in memory of the 105th birthday anniversary of the late president Kim Il-sung (“Day of the Sun”), North Korea presented various types of missiles to the international community. Besides the “KN08” and “KN14” intercontinental missiles, there is also one similar to Russia’s Topol-M intercontinental missile in shape, which is longer than “KN08” and “KN14” and may be a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile developed by North Korea.

On September 11th, North Korea’s National Day, Kim Jong-un addressed the celebration of the sixth nuclear test, stating that “the sound of the hydrogen bomb is a great victory won by the Korean people at the cost of their blood while tightening their belts in times of difficulty.” He also encouraged engineers and technical staff to make “redoubled efforts, not slackening the spirit displayed by them in bringing the great auspicious event of the national history.”

While there has almost been no doubt that North Korea is already capable of conducting nuclear strikes against South Korea, Japan, or even Guam with ballistic missiles, different views exist about whether North Korea is able to establish substantive nuclear threats to mainland US. It is generally believed that to truly achieve the goal claimed by Choi Sun-hee, the top North Korean diplomat who handles relations with the US, North Korea still must conquer two technical difficulties: one is atmospheric reentry technology and precision guidance and control for ballistic missiles, and the other is miniaturization of nuclear warheads and credibility of igniters. Only by overcoming these two difficulties and achieving stable technical performance can North Korea be considered to have finished the “nuclear and missile combination” necessary for securing effective strategic deterrence. Despite rapid progress in the two aspects above, there is still a long way for North Korea to go before real “nuclear and missile combination.” However, it is undeniable that its nuclear and missile program has entered the final stage, when all parties will have to face a more confident North Korea with capabilities to conduct nuclear strikes.

In February 2015, North Korea’s Nuclear Futures, a research report published by the US-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and US National Defense University, predicted that by 2020, North Korea will possess 50 to 100 nuclear warheads, and will be able to keep at least 50 to 60 of them[11]. In 2017, the US reevaluated North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities. According to a report by Washington Post on July 25th, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under the US Department of Defense predicted in an internal report that North Korea has made striking progress in missile launch technologies, and will produce reliable intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) which can carry nuclear weapons at some point in 2018[12]. Other US media proved the existence of the report by citing unnamed officials from the Department of Defense. Another news report by The Washington Post on August 8th said that by the end of July 2017, North Korea possessed a maximum of 60 nuclear weapons. With miniaturized nuclear warheads, it has in fact become a fully nuclear-armed state.

The US Institute for Science and International Security predicted, based on North Korea’s production of plutonium and highly-enriched uranium, that by the end of 2016, North Korea possessed 13 to 30 nuclear weapons, and the number is still increasing at three to five per year. By 2020, the number may reach 25 to 50, or even 60. [13]

Mike Pompeo, Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), addressing the US Center for Strategic and International Studies on April 13th, noted that while multiple administrations have tried to cope with the threat of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of putting a nuclear warhead into the US, we are closer to the threat than we have ever been, since “North Korea has always been making progress.” On August 13th, during an interview with FOX News, Pompeo contended that North Korea is developing capabilities to conduct nuclear strikes against the US at an astonishing pace. There is only months before North Korea possesses full nuclear force, which is enough to make the US a target. Nonetheless, there are differences between being capable of launching a nuclear bomb and producing a large number of nuclear weapons. Previously, on April 12th, Dennis Wilder, former Deputy CIA Director during the Bush administration, expressed during an interview with Lateline of Australia’s ABC News that the US intelligence agencies estimate that within four years, or even during Trump’s time in office, North Korea will be able to launch ballistic missiles to the US West Coast.[14]

Experts from the Institute of Strategic Stability of Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation made an assessment that North Korea has produced a total of 40 to 42 kilograms of weapon-grade plutonium with the 5-megawatt nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, of which about 10 kilograms were consumed in three nuclear tests conducted in 2006, 2009, and 2013. At present, North Korea has about 20 to 30 implosive plutonium bombs and highly-enriched uranium bombs. It can produce seven nuclear warheads a year, and the number is expected to increase to ten by 2018. These nuclear warheads will be most likely to be used in nuclear bombardment, i.e. dropped by bombers or military transport aircrafts converted from bombers.[15]

 

II. Frequent nuclear missile activities of North Korea challenge seriousness of international nuclear non-proliferation system, and incur stricter multilateral sanctions.

Since the 1960s, as the number of nuclear weapons and nuclear tests increases, a nuclear order with sovereign countries and international organizations as the actors, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) the basic guarantee system, and using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes as principle has gradually taken shape. Due to historical and practical reasons, the current order is still unequal and unfair in some aspects, such as imposing double standards, being increasingly incompatible with reality, and risking being overthrown. Nevertheless, its formation is not only an achievement of human civilization, but a basic guarantee of international security; as such, the current nuclear order should be well maintained, and reformed under conducive situations. At present, stepping out of the security dilemma of the “anarchy” of international community is a key to global nuclear order.

The historical evolution of the North Korean nuclear issue also demonstrates the evolution of the non-proliferation regime of the nuclear order. During the Cold War, North Korea once accepted the nuclear assistance of the Soviet Union. Under the US-Soviet Union nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the Soviet Union was responsible for monitoring nuclear activities in North Korea. However, North Korea refused to put its nuclear facilities and imported materials under the safeguard of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and even leaked secret information regarding its independently developed nuclear weapons. Under these conditions, it was forced by the Soviet Union to join NPT, and it agreed to put its 5MW nuclear reactor in Yongbyon under IAEA supervision.

After the Cold War, the current international nuclear non-proliferation regime was established; however, North Korea intensified its efforts in conducting nuclear missile activities and withdrew from NPT, which severely impacted the regime. North Korea’s nuclear power makes it the first country to successfully break the existing nuclear order in a real sense. It not only implies a retrogression or even disintegration of the current international nuclear non-proliferation regime, but also exposes the problem of a “vital” tottering of the nuclear order. Therefore, it is essential to urge North Korea to return to the regime with proper measures, and prevent “nuclear threshold countries” like Japan and South Korea from following suit and shaking off NPT for the possession of more nuclear weapons.[16]

 

On June 12th 2017, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano delivered the Annual Report for 2016. According to the report, since North Korea stopped inviting the IAEA for nuclear monitoring, the agency has not been able to conduct monitoring and verification activities, and thus has only limited information on the development of its nuclear program. Despite this, it is ascertainable that North Korea has not abandoned its nuclear program or suspended related activities in a comprehensive, verifiable, and irreversible manner; instead, it blatantly ignores and continues violating UN resolutions, and refuses all cooperation with IAEA. Yukiya Amano urged the country to comply fully with NPT, and cooperate promptly with IAEA, in order to leverage IAEA’s comprehensive safeguard implementation fully and effectively, and realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.[17]

IAEA’s anxiety regarding the development of North Korea’s nuclear power is a reflection of widespread concern in the international community. Since the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 825 in 1993, the Council has passed 12 resolutions and four presidential statements concerning North Korea. In 2017 alone, three UN Security Council resolutions were issued against the country’s nuclear missile activities, during which the attitudes of council members were highly consistent, and the adoption highly effective. It shows that the international community is growing increasingly impatient with North Korea’s nuclear missile activities.

In response to North Korea’s frequent launch of ballistic missiles in April, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2356 on June 2nd, adding 14 persons to the lists of those subject to asset freeze and travel restrictions, and four entities to asset freeze.

In response to North Korea’s trial launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles on July 4th and July 28th, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2371 on August 5th, imposing more stringent sanctions on North Korea. According to the resolution, North Korea shall not supply, sell or transfer coal, iron, iron ore, other raw materials, and seafood to other countries. Additionally, all member states shall prohibit the opening of new joint ventures or cooperative entities with the North Korean entities and individuals, or expand existing joint ventures through additional investments. It implies a reduction of the country’s revenue by - at minimum - one billion dollars, or roughly one third of its foreign currency revenue.

In response to North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted the ninth resolution concerning North Korea since 2006 – Resolution 2375 on September 11th, issuing new sanctions against the country. The resolution introduces restrictions on petroleum import and crude oil supply to North Korea to the total amount supplied in the period of 12 months prior to the adoption of the resolution, and bans North Korea from procuring gas condensates and natural gas liquids, or exporting textiles. The resolution stipulates that the member states shall not sell to North Korea an amount of crude oil that is in excess of four million barrels, and refined petroleum products that is up to two million barrels per year during a period of 12 months beginning on January 1st, 2018. In addition, no textile or labor shall be introduced from North Korea; the assets of some North Korean political agencies are frozen; and smuggling to North Korea is prohibited.

When Resolution 2375 was enforced, 90% of North Korea’s export was paralyzed. Based on the trade volume of the sanctioned goods in the last two years, North Korea would lose an income of 1.3 billion dollars a year, and see its export volume drop to 520 million dollars and import volume 1.52 billion dollars in 2018, regressing to 1999 levels.

With the marked improvement of North Korea’s nuclear power and its capricious displays, the international community has noticed not only the country’s irreversible determination to own nuclear weapons, but also the effectiveness of international sanctions. More and more insiders tacitly accept North Korea as a nuclear weapon state. Michael Swaine, from the US Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, proposed that Kim Jong-Un understands that the US could extinguish North Korea in a matter of minutes and would do so if a North Korean nuclear missile struck the US soil. Therefore, Pyongyang will not adopt nuclear strategies without basic rationality. This suggests the short-term need for US policymakers to strengthen communication and coordination with China, South Korea, and other countries, agree upon procedures for detecting and preventing any attempt by North Korea to transfer nuclear materials, and implement effective crisis management, instead of focusing only on deterring the country and forcing it to forsake its nuclear endeavors.[18] Siegfried Hecker, a nuclear scientist from Stanford University, and other US scholars have expressed similar opinions.

Meanwhile, some opposition supporters in South Korea and Japan preach about developing nuclear weapons independently or relocating US tactical nuclear weapons, in order to contend with North Korea’s nuclear programs. On September 14th, Realmeter, a South Korean polling organization, released results of a survey, saying that 53.5% of the respondents agreed that South Korea should develop nuclear weapons independently or partner with the US in its deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, and only 35.1% opposed this. However, on the same day, during an interview with Cable News Network (CNN), South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that, “I do not agree that South Korea needs to develop our own nuclear weapons or relocate tactical nuclear weapons in the face of North Korea’s nuclear threat. “Though he was not supportive of deploying or pursuing nuclear weapons, Moon said South Korea “needs to develop our military capabilities in the face of North Korea’s nuclear advancement.”[19]

 

III. Trump’s North Korea policy features “maximum pressure,” and bilateral negotiation seems hard to initiate

After Donald Trump assumed office, he prioritized the North Korea nuclear issue for the security of the Asia-Pacific region. The US demands that the North Korean regime agrees to stop the development of nuclear weapons and denuclearize the peninsula, and that the country is not capable enough to “threaten the US.”[20] To resolve the North Korea nuclear issue, diplomatic solutions are preferred,[21] while military means remain a highlighted alternative.[22]

After North Korea launched the sixth nuclear test and the Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, the US intensified its efforts in responding to a North Korean ballistic missile threat. It viewed North Korea as the “the greatest security threat,” and emphasized the US Army’s capability of resolving this deadly threat in advance. The US Army “must stand ready” in the face of North Korean provocations to ensure that the US has the necessary military option.[23]

In March 2017, based on an re-assessment of North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities, the Trump administration availed the opportunity of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to South Korea, and denounced the former President Barack Obama’s policy of “strategic patience” towards North Korea. Then, on April 26th, the Trump administration issued a policy statement in response to the North Korea nuclear issue. The statement called North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons “an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority” for the US.

After the statement was released, Donald Trump called the full US Congress in a usual move to closed-door briefings held in the White House and Capitol on the threat posed by North Korea and US options in dealing with it.

The Trump administration considered a wide array of policy options, including imposing military attack, overthrowing the North Korean regime, and recognizing North Korea as a nuclear state. Finally, it settled on a North Korea strategy featuring “maximum pressure, engagement” (“maximum pressure” policy). That is, the US will impose maximum pressure on North Korea through economic sanctions and diplomatic means, and thus urge the country to halt its nuclear missile activities without undergoing a regime change. If North Korea were to change its behaviors, the US would start negotiation processes.[24]

The “maximum pressure” policy is formulated under the guidance of the White House National Security Council, with a particular emphasis on homeland defense demands, and a clarified adherence to the principle of “America First” and the ideology of “Peace through Strength.” Half a year since it was adopted, the new policy has demonstrated three main characteristics.

(I) The new policy relies heavily on deterrence by force. Military operation becomes an increasingly prioritized option on the US’s agenda to address the North Korean nuclear and missile crisis. However, the US intends to “draw the bow without shooting” and favors strategic ambiguity and psychological operations, demonstrating the unpredictability of its policies.

Military operation is increasingly prioritized through the following actions: updating Operations Plan 5015 (OPLAN 5015); enhancing the deployment of B-1B bombers, F-22 fighters, nuclear-powered submarines, and other strategic arms, as well as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on the Korean Peninsula; accelerating the pace to prepare for preemptive and targeted strikes in a semi-underground manner; dispatching additional aircraft carriers to the Peninsula for military exercises; increasing the scale of US-South Korea joint military exercises and arranging tasks in a targeted manner; practicing the withdrawal of US forces from South Korea in case of emergency; etc.

Since Trump assumed office, the US military has launched two limited military operations: in April, it executed an airstrike against a Syrian government-controlled airbase, and later dropped its most powerful non-nuclear bombs after targeting ISIS caves in Afghanistan; on May 30th, it intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile during the first test of its ground-based intercept system. Both actions were, in a sense, aimed at intimidating North Korea.

The annual “Key Resolve” and “Foal Eagle” military exercises held by the US and South Korea in the first half of 2017 were larger than the previous in terms of total number of troops, involved arms and equipment, and exercised tasks. Rather than carrying out defense-oriented and tactical operations as they once did, the military exercises appeared to be oriented on attacks and strategies. Meanwhile, THAAD interceptors were used for the first time in a military exercise. In August, the US and South Korea kicked off the annual Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercise, involving approximately 17,500 US service members and 50,000 South Korean soldiers. Though the exercise was smaller than previous ones, the US and South Korean troops were joined by United Nations Command forces from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, New Zealand, Netherlands, and the UK, hence the greater significance. In November, closely following Trump’s visit to South Korea, the US and South Korea conducted a joint drill with aircraft carrier strike groups in waters off the South Korea’s eastern coast. The drill included three US Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers—the USS Ronald Reagan, USS Nimitz, USS Theodore Roosevelt—and eleven Aegis cruisers, joined by seven South Korean naval vessels. The forces worked to enhance the execution of joint operations through escort by aircraft carriers, aerial operations, and aircraft artillery.

The OPLAN 5015 is a secret joint operations plan signed by South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Choi Yoon-hee and Combined Forces Commander Curtis Scaparrotti in June 2015 to replace the old OPLAN 5027 introduced in 1973, which remained in effect for over three decades.

The OPLAN 5015 outlines how the US and South Korean forces would operate during the outbreak of war or some other crisis. It focuses on launching “preemptive” strikes to destroy North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction, military bases, nuclear plants, missile positions, headquarters, and communication facilities, as well as other important targets, and additionally includes plans to “behead” North Korean political and military leadership, enable prompt victories in early stages of conflicts or crises, and minimize losses. During the Key Resolve military exercise conducted in 2016, the US and South Korean forces carried out for the first time part of the OPLAN 5015. Some of its tasks were involved in the Key Resolve, Foal Eagle, and Ulchi-Freedom Guardian military exercises in 2017 as well, to not only demonstrate their determination but also to train the solders. The Washington Post, citing sources from Yonhap News Agency, reported that “the joint forces will also run through their new ‘4D’ operational plan, which details the allies’ preemptive military operations to detect, disrupt, destroy, and defend against North Korea’s nuclear and missile arsenal.”[25]

In order to coordinate with strengthening preparations for war against North Korea, the CIA announced the establishment of a Korea Mission Center on May 10th. Before that, there were already ten mission centers: six of them covered geographical regions, including the Western Hemisphere, Africa, Europe and Eurasia, Near East, East Asia and Pacific, and South and Central Asia; the other four addressed strategic tasks, including Global Issues, Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Weapons and Counterproliferation. The Korea Mission Center is the first one dedicated to dealing with one single country.

On October 28th, the South Korea-US Security Consultative Meeting was held in Seoul. The South Korean Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo and US Secretary of Defense James Mattis signed a Joint Communiqué following the meeting, stating that the two sides have agreed to intensify the deployment of US strategic assets. In the Joint Communiqué, the Minister and the Secretary expressed their support for diplomatic efforts as the preferred path for addressing the North Korean nuclear issue, and agreed that such diplomatic efforts must be backed by robust military powers. The two sides decided to hold talks on revising the Revised Missile Guidelines (RMG) and introducing sophisticated strategic weapons, and to implement - at the earliest opportunity - the decision to remove limits on missile payload under the RMG. Mattis reaffirmed the US commitment to provide extended deterrence for South Korea using a full range of military capabilities, including the US nuclear umbrella, conventional strike, and missile defense capabilities.

Trump attempted to enhance the deterrent effect by frequently making public comments and posting Tweets, aiming to launch psychological operations against North Korea and those maintaining normal relations with the country. To name a few remarks from Trump, “North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been ‘playing’ the United States for years. China has done little to help” (Trump’s tweet on March 18th); “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them” (Trump’s tweet on April 11th); “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” (Trump’s comments to reporters on August 8th); “It (nuclear arsenal) is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before…hopefully we will never have to use this power”(Trump’s tweet on August 9th); “If North Korea does anything in terms of even thinking about attack of anybody that we love or we represent or our allies or us, they can be very, very nervous. They should be nervous. Things will happen to them like they never thought possible” (Trump’s comments to reporters on August 10th); “North Korea better get their act together, or they’re going to be in trouble, like few nations ever have been in trouble in this world” (Trump’s comments to reporters on August 10th).

North Korea was infuriated by Trump’s tweets and comments on August 8th and 9th. In response, the Korean People’s Army Strategic Force announced on August 10th that they would finalize the Guam strike plan by mid-August and present it to Kim Jong-un, Commander in Chief of North Korea’s nuclear force. In the plan, four intermediate-range ballistic missiles would be fired into waters 30-40 km (18-25 miles) from Guam. Responding to this “threat,” Trump tweeted on August 11th, “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!” Later on August 30th, he sent another Tweet: “The US has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!”

On the day of North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, Trump tweeted that “North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States,” and that “the United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea” (Trump’s Tweets on September 3rd). At the General Debate of the 72nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 72), which commenced on September 19th, Trump delivered his first UNGA speech, in which he mentioned North Korea in particular and referred to his North Korean counterpart as “Little Rocket Man.” “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” stated Trump. The next day, Kim Jong-un, flashing rare anger, released a statement saying that he would “punish the mentally deranged US dotard with fire.” On October 5th, while taking photos alongside senior military leaders and their spouses before a night dinner at the White House, Trump alluded to “the calm before the storm” after he made remarks about sensitive issues concerning Iran and North Korea. On October 6th, Trump held a brief interview with reporters in the Oval Office. When asked how he would address North Korean nuclear issue, he replied, “you’ll find out,” and “we’ll see.” On October 7th, Trump said on Twitter, “Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid…hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, making fools of U.S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!”

In demonstrating deterrence, Trump seemed to be plain and simple, tough yet cryptic, as if he were playing at strategic ambiguity to intrigue and rattle his opponents, thus further sending the tensions spiraling upwards. When asked about this during an interview with the US National Broadcasting Company on October 8th, Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget of the White House, explained that Trump is clearly telegraphing that military options are on the table to address North Korean issues.

(II) Without drawing a clear “red line,” the US grows tougher with North Korea. Yet in practice, the US prefers a bilateral system to a multilateral mechanism, and tends to bind various issues together and resort to exchanges of interests.

In January 2017, Kim Jong-un said in an address on New Year’s Day that “North Korea is preparing to test long-range missiles.” Trump immediately derided Kim’s claim on Twitter, saying: “It won’t happen.” But he did not make clear what “it” meant, thus giving rise great speculation. It seems that Trump was maintaining “strategic ambiguity” with the “ambiguous reference.” It is generally believed that Trump set a “red line” during his early days in office that North Korea should not conduct its sixth nuclear test or launch any more intercontinental ballistic missiles, a line which was then crossed by Pyongyang. Though North Korea keeps crossing the red line, the Trump administration appears hesitant to take military actions. Currently, the US is mobilizing all forces to impose maximum sanctions against North Korea and increase pressure.

The Trump administration keeps applying significant pressure to North Korea. In addition to multilateral sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council, the US and its allies are tightening their unilateral sanctions against North Korea. On June 1st, two Russian firms were added to the targeted sanctions list of US Department of the Treasury for allegedly helping North Korea breach sanctions and supporting North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. On July 27th, the US Senate passed a sweeping sanctions package targeting Russia, Iran, and North Korea, following the approval of the House. On August 3rd, Trump signed the bill. On September 21st, Trump ordered new sanctions, blacklisting people and entities conducting business with North Korea, and barring ships that had visited North Korea from stopping in the US for 180 days. On September 26th, the Treasury announced sanctions on eight North Korean banks and twenty-six bank executives for their support of North Korean programs to developing weapons of mass destruction, and froze assets in US jurisdiction belonging to entities and individuals with ties to North Korea’s financial networks. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) would block all North Korean assets subject to US jurisdiction, and forbid sanctions targets from doing business with US citizens. By imposing unilateral sanctions, the US is actually acting in accordance with domestic laws, and carrying out “long-arm jurisdiction” over any third-party entities or individuals doing business with North Korea in areas involved in its sanctions. That is to say, the US is bringing third-party financial institutions and enterprises trading with North Korea into the scope of “secondary sanctions,” which have already been implemented or are about to be carried out.

The US Department of State is working to diplomatically isolate North Korea across the globe. Its actions include requiring other countries to shut down enterprises owned by the North Korean government, cancel registrations of North Korean ships, cancel flights with North Korea’s state-owned airlines, and expel North Korean ambassadors. These actions have delivered a number of results: India announced that it would halt all trade with North Korea and stop training North Korean soldiers; the ASEAN Summit and the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting both released statements, expressing concerns for the situation on the Korean Peninsula and vowing to rigorously implement the UN Security Council resolutions regarding North Korea; Mexico, Peru, Spain, Kuwait, and Italy expelled their North Korean ambassadors; Germany shut down a hostel run by the North Korean embassy; Kuwait and Qatar expelled North Korean workers. The US Department of State claimed that more than 20 countries restricted North Korean diplomatic activities this year.[26]

The Trump administration believes that the key to effective sanctions against North Korea lies in China, who allegedly maintains “special relations” with North Korea, and the administration attempts to transfer the primary responsibility of pressuring Pyongyang to China. Hence, it is working to press China more aggressively to check North Korea’s power than the Obama administration. To this end, the US adopts a “stick and carrot” strategy when dealing with China: the US continues to flatter China with fine words, maintains close high-level contacts with China in diplomatic terms, and signals that China should coordinate with the US to prepare for emergencies on the Peninsula; meanwhile, the US government grumbles publicly, expands its unilateral sanctions against North Korea to include even Chinese businesses and individuals, and connects China-US trade talks to China’s performance dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue. In Trump’s tweets concerning the issue, many have scolded both North Korea and China, reflecting the logic above and his mood swings: “I explained to the president of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!” (Trump’s tweet on April 11th); “North Korea disrespected the wishes of China and its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!” (Trump’s tweet on April 29th); “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!” (Trump’s tweet on July 4th); “Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us — but we had to give it a try” (Trump’s tweet on July 5th); “I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet...they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!” (Trump’s tweet on July 29th). On June 15th, the US announced a lawsuit against Mingzheng International Trading Ltd., a company based in Shenyang, China, accusing it of acting as a front for laundering money on behalf of a sanctioned North Korean entity. On June 29th, the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the US believed that the Bank of Dandong, a Chinese bank, laundered money for North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, and it will be barred from doing business with the US financial institutions. The Treasury Department had also sanctioned two individuals from China as well as a Chinese shipping company. However, North Korea does not buckle under the increasingly tight international sanctions, and has refused China’s offer to send special envoys to Pyongyang several times. As a result, Trump and his administration must admit that China has only limited influence over North Korea.

(I) The new policy relies heavily on deterrence by force. Military operation becomes an increasingly prioritized option on the US’s agenda to address the North Korean nuclear and missile crisis. However, the US intends to “draw the bow without shooting” and favors strategic ambiguity and psychological operations, demonstrating the unpredictability of its policies.

Military operation is increasingly prioritized through the following actions: updating Operations Plan 5015 (OPLAN 5015); enhancing the deployment of B-1B bombers, F-22 fighters, nuclear-powered submarines, and other strategic arms, as well as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on the Korean Peninsula; accelerating the pace to prepare for preemptive and targeted strikes in a semi-underground manner; dispatching additional aircraft carriers to the Peninsula for military exercises; increasing the scale of US-South Korea joint military exercises and arranging tasks in a targeted manner; practicing the withdrawal of US forces from South Korea in case of emergency; etc.

Since Trump assumed office, the US military has launched two limited military operations: in April, it executed an airstrike against a Syrian government-controlled airbase, and later dropped its most powerful non-nuclear bombs after targeting ISIS caves in Afghanistan; on May 30th, it intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile during the first test of its ground-based intercept system. Both actions were, in a sense, aimed at intimidating North Korea.

The annual “Key Resolve” and “Foal Eagle” military exercises held by the US and South Korea in the first half of 2017 were larger than the previous in terms of total number of troops, involved arms and equipment, and exercised tasks. Rather than carrying out defense-oriented and tactical operations as they once did, the military exercises appeared to be oriented on attacks and strategies. Meanwhile, THAAD interceptors were used for the first time in a military exercise. In August, the US and South Korea kicked off the annual Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercise, involving approximately 17,500 US service members and 50,000 South Korean soldiers. Though the exercise was smaller than previous ones, the US and South Korean troops were joined by United Nations Command forces from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, New Zealand, Netherlands, and the UK, hence the greater significance. In November, closely following Trump’s visit to South Korea, the US and South Korea conducted a joint drill with aircraft carrier strike groups in waters off the South Korea’s eastern coast. The drill included three US Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers—the USS Ronald Reagan, USS Nimitz, USS Theodore Roosevelt—and eleven Aegis cruisers, joined by seven South Korean naval vessels. The forces worked to enhance the execution of joint operations through escort by aircraft carriers, aerial operations, and aircraft artillery.

The OPLAN 5015 is a secret joint operations plan signed by South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Choi Yoon-hee and Combined Forces Commander Curtis Scaparrotti in June 2015 to replace the old OPLAN 5027 introduced in 1973, which remained in effect for over three decades.

The OPLAN 5015 outlines how the US and South Korean forces would operate during the outbreak of war or some other crisis. It focuses on launching “preemptive” strikes to destroy North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction, military bases, nuclear plants, missile positions, headquarters, and communication facilities, as well as other important targets, and additionally includes plans to “behead” North Korean political and military leadership, enable prompt victories in early stages of conflicts or crises, and minimize losses. During the Key Resolve military exercise conducted in 2016, the US and South Korean forces carried out for the first time part of the OPLAN 5015. Some of its tasks were involved in the Key Resolve, Foal Eagle, and Ulchi-Freedom Guardian military exercises in 2017 as well, to not only demonstrate their determination but also to train the solders. The Washington Post, citing sources from Yonhap News Agency, reported that “the joint forces will also run through their new ‘4D’ operational plan, which details the allies’ preemptive military operations to detect, disrupt, destroy, and defend against North Korea’s nuclear and missile arsenal.”[27]

In order to coordinate with strengthening preparations for war against North Korea, the CIA announced the establishment of a Korea Mission Center on May 10th. Before that, there were already ten mission centers: six of them covered geographical regions, including the Western Hemisphere, Africa, Europe and Eurasia, Near East, East Asia and Pacific, and South and Central Asia; the other four addressed strategic tasks, including Global Issues, Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Weapons and Counterproliferation. The Korea Mission Center is the first one dedicated to dealing with one single country.

On October 28th, the South Korea-US Security Consultative Meeting was held in Seoul. The South Korean Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo and US Secretary of Defense James Mattis signed a Joint Communiqué following the meeting, stating that the two sides have agreed to intensify the deployment of US strategic assets. In the Joint Communiqué, the Minister and the Secretary expressed their support for diplomatic efforts as the preferred path for addressing the North Korean nuclear issue, and agreed that such diplomatic efforts must be backed by robust military powers. The two sides decided to hold talks on revising the Revised Missile Guidelines (RMG) and introducing sophisticated strategic weapons, and to implement - at the earliest opportunity - the decision to remove limits on missile payload under the RMG. Mattis reaffirmed the US commitment to provide extended deterrence for South Korea using a full range of military capabilities, including the US nuclear umbrella, conventional strike, and missile defense capabilities.

Trump attempted to enhance the deterrent effect by frequently making public comments and posting Tweets, aiming to launch psychological operations against North Korea and those maintaining normal relations with the country. To name a few remarks from Trump, “North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been ‘playing’ the United States for years. China has done little to help” (Trump’s tweet on March 18th); “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them” (Trump’s tweet on April 11th); “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” (Trump’s comments to reporters on August 8th); “It (nuclear arsenal) is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before…hopefully we will never have to use this power”(Trump’s tweet on August 9th); “If North Korea does anything in terms of even thinking about attack of anybody that we love or we represent or our allies or us, they can be very, very nervous. They should be nervous. Things will happen to them like they never thought possible” (Trump’s comments to reporters on August 10th); “North Korea better get their act together, or they’re going to be in trouble, like few nations ever have been in trouble in this world” (Trump’s comments to reporters on August 10th).

North Korea was infuriated by Trump’s tweets and comments on August 8th and 9th. In response, the Korean People’s Army Strategic Force announced on August 10th that they would finalize the Guam strike plan by mid-August and present it to Kim Jong-un, Commander in Chief of North Korea’s nuclear force. In the plan, four intermediate-range ballistic missiles would be fired into waters 30-40 km (18-25 miles) from Guam. Responding to this “threat,” Trump tweeted on August 11th, “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!” Later on August 30th, he sent another Tweet: “The US has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!”

On the day of North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, Trump tweeted that “North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States,” and that “the United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea” (Trump’s Tweets on September 3rd). At the General Debate of the 72nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 72), which commenced on September 19th, Trump delivered his first UNGA speech, in which he mentioned North Korea in particular and referred to his North Korean counterpart as “Little Rocket Man.” “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” stated Trump. The next day, Kim Jong-un, flashing rare anger, released a statement saying that he would “punish the mentally deranged US dotard with fire.” On October 5th, while taking photos alongside senior military leaders and their spouses before a night dinner at the White House, Trump alluded to “the calm before the storm” after he made remarks about sensitive issues concerning Iran and North Korea. On October 6th, Trump held a brief interview with reporters in the Oval Office. When asked how he would address North Korean nuclear issue, he replied, “you’ll find out,” and “we’ll see.” On October 7th, Trump said on Twitter, “Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid…hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, making fools of U.S. negotiators. Sorry, but only one thing will work!”

In demonstrating deterrence, Trump seemed to be plain and simple, tough yet cryptic, as if he were playing at strategic ambiguity to intrigue and rattle his opponents, thus further sending the tensions spiraling upwards. When asked about this during an interview with the US National Broadcasting Company on October 8th, Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget of the White House, explained that Trump is clearly telegraphing that military options are on the table to address North Korean issues.

(II) Without drawing a clear “red line,” the US grows tougher with North Korea. Yet in practice, the US prefers a bilateral system to a multilateral mechanism, and tends to bind various issues together and resort to exchanges of interests.

In January 2017, Kim Jong-un said in an address on New Year’s Day that “North Korea is preparing to test long-range missiles.” Trump immediately derided Kim’s claim on Twitter, saying: “It won’t happen.” But he did not make clear what “it” meant, thus giving rise great speculation. It seems that Trump was maintaining “strategic ambiguity” with the “ambiguous reference.” It is generally believed that Trump set a “red line” during his early days in office that North Korea should not conduct its sixth nuclear test or launch any more intercontinental ballistic missiles, a line which was then crossed by Pyongyang. Though North Korea keeps crossing the red line, the Trump administration appears hesitant to take military actions. Currently, the US is mobilizing all forces to impose maximum sanctions against North Korea and increase pressure.

The Trump administration keeps applying significant pressure to North Korea. In addition to multilateral sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council, the US and its allies are tightening their unilateral sanctions against North Korea. On June 1st, two Russian firms were added to the targeted sanctions list of US Department of the Treasury for allegedly helping North Korea breach sanctions and supporting North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. On July 27th, the US Senate passed a sweeping sanctions package targeting Russia, Iran, and North Korea, following the approval of the House. On August 3rd, Trump signed the bill. On September 21st, Trump ordered new sanctions, blacklisting people and entities conducting business with North Korea, and barring ships that had visited North Korea from stopping in the US for 180 days. On September 26th, the Treasury announced sanctions on eight North Korean banks and twenty-six bank executives for their support of North Korean programs to developing weapons of mass destruction, and froze assets in US jurisdiction belonging to entities and individuals with ties to North Korea’s financial networks. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) would block all North Korean assets subject to US jurisdiction, and forbid sanctions targets from doing business with US citizens. By imposing unilateral sanctions, the US is actually acting in accordance with domestic laws, and carrying out “long-arm jurisdiction” over any third-party entities or individuals doing business with North Korea in areas involved in its sanctions. That is to say, the US is bringing third-party financial institutions and enterprises trading with North Korea into the scope of “secondary sanctions,” which have already been implemented or are about to be carried out.

The US Department of State is working to diplomatically isolate North Korea across the globe. Its actions include requiring other countries to shut down enterprises owned by the North Korean government, cancel registrations of North Korean ships, cancel flights with North Korea’s state-owned airlines, and expel North Korean ambassadors. These actions have delivered a number of results: India announced that it would halt all trade with North Korea and stop training North Korean soldiers; the ASEAN Summit and the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting both released statements, expressing concerns for the situation on the Korean Peninsula and vowing to rigorously implement the UN Security Council resolutions regarding North Korea; Mexico, Peru, Spain, Kuwait, and Italy expelled their North Korean ambassadors; Germany shut down a hostel run by the North Korean embassy; Kuwait and Qatar expelled North Korean workers. The US Department of State claimed that more than 20 countries restricted North Korean diplomatic activities this year.[28]

The Trump administration believes that the key to effective sanctions against North Korea lies in China, who allegedly maintains “special relations” with North Korea, and the administration attempts to transfer the primary responsibility of pressuring Pyongyang to China. Hence, it is working to press China more aggressively to check North Korea’s power than the Obama administration. To this end, the US adopts a “stick and carrot” strategy when dealing with China: the US continues to flatter China with fine words, maintains close high-level contacts with China in diplomatic terms, and signals that China should coordinate with the US to prepare for emergencies on the Peninsula; meanwhile, the US government grumbles publicly, expands its unilateral sanctions against North Korea to include even Chinese businesses and individuals, and connects China-US trade talks to China’s performance dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue. In Trump’s tweets concerning the issue, many have scolded both North Korea and China, reflecting the logic above and his mood swings: “I explained to the president of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!” (Trump’s tweet on April 11th); “North Korea disrespected the wishes of China and its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!” (Trump’s tweet on April 29th); “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!” (Trump’s tweet on July 4th); “Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us — but we had to give it a try” (Trump’s tweet on July 5th); “I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet...they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!” (Trump’s tweet on July 29th). On June 15th, the US announced a lawsuit against Mingzheng International Trading Ltd., a company based in Shenyang, China, accusing it of acting as a front for laundering money on behalf of a sanctioned North Korean entity. On June 29th, the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the US believed that the Bank of Dandong, a Chinese bank, laundered money for North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, and it will be barred from doing business with the US financial institutions. The Treasury Department had also sanctioned two individuals from China as well as a Chinese shipping company. However, North Korea does not buckle under the increasingly tight international sanctions, and has refused China’s offer to send special envoys to Pyongyang several times. As a result, Trump and his administration must admit that China has only limited influence over North Korea.

(III) In addition to tough actions, the US also plays the villain by maintaining contacts with North Korea, prioritizing the diplomatic solution, and retaining the possibility of talks, so as to offer “sweeter carrots.”

First, the US still signals the possibility of a talk with Kim Jong-un. During an interview with Reuters on February 23rd, Trump expressed worry about North Korea conducting missile tests. Meanwhile, he did not rule out the possibility of meeting the North Korean leader under certain circumstances, but it was probably “too late.” On May 1st, Trump said in an interview with Bloomberg in the White House, “If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely be honored to do it. If it's under the, again, under the right circumstances.” “Most political people would never say that,” he noted. “But I'm telling you under the right circumstances I would meet with him."[29] On November 6th, during his visit to Japan, Trump reiterated that the North Korean nuclear programs pose a threat to the civilized world as well as international peace and stability, and that the era of strategic patience is over. Meanwhile, he said, “I would sit down with anybody. I don’t think it’s a strength or weakness, I think sitting down with people is not a bad thing.” “So I would certainly be open to doing that but we’ll see where it goes, I think we’re far too early,”[30] he added.

Secondly, the US put forward the principle of “two give-ups” and “four nots” for addressing North Korean nuclear issue. The principle was gradually developed by the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as he participated in a special interview during his Asia visit in March, chaired the UN Security Council Ministerial Session on North Korea on April 28th, and delivered an open speech on May 3rd. It means that, under the condition that North Korea gives up nuclear tests and missile development, the US will not try to seek change in North Korea’s national system, overthrow Kim Jong-un’s regime, push for South-North reunification, or cross the 38th parallel and attack North Korea.[31] To be fair, such overtures are ahead of those made by the Obama administration. In particular, it shows a clearer official sign that the US has no desire to overthrow the North Korean regime, which serves as the prerequisite for talks between the Trump administration and North Korea. In regards to this, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang replied to an inquiry on May 8th, starting, “We have noted the remarks by Secretary Tillerson, the principles he mentioned, and the commitment of the US to promoting denuclearization of the Peninsula.” “Under the current circumstances, the message sent by the US about solving problems through dialogue and consultation is of positive significance and worth serious consideration by relevant parties.”[32] China hopes the US can, based on these statements, strengthen contact with North Korea to seek consensus and build mutual trust.

Thirdly, the US held limited low-level contacts with North Korea. On May 8th, the US had a tentative 1.5-track dialogue with North Korea in Oslo, Norway, where the two sides were represented by senior researcher Suzanne DiMaggio from New America Foundation, a think tank headquartered in Washington, and Choi Sun-hee, Director General of the North America Department of the North Korean Foreign Ministry (as a researcher at a subordinate body of the North Korean Foreign Ministry). This was the second meeting between US and North Korea since their contact in Geneva, Switzerland, in November 2016. It was reported that the meeting, which possibly lasted for two days, mainly discussed the release of US citizens detained in North Korea, but the US still tried to elicit terms of negotiation for North Korea.[33]

Generally speaking, the secret bilateral contact between the US and North Korea is mainly done through New York, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and European channels, which have never been fully cut off even in times of greatest tension for US-North Korea relations and the Korean Peninsula. On September 30th, Secretary of State Tillerson, in response to the inquiry of reporters during his visit to China, confessed, “We have lines of communication to Pyongyang. We’re not in a dark situation, a blackout. We have a couple … three channels open to Pyongyang.” “We can talk to them, we do talk to them,” he further noted. Following the remarks, the next day, Trump mocked Tillerson in a tweet: “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.” Nonetheless, this still implicitly proved that mid- and low-level contact between the two states does exist.

On the whole, though blatantly abandoning “strategic patience,” the Trump administration has adopted more or less the same policies from the Obama administration. After several rounds, Trump has gained a deeper understanding of the complexity and urgency regarding the North Korean nuclear issue. Though he claimed that Obama’s era of “strategic patience” has ended, Trump has actually extended the policy, using the “stick and carrot” approach and continuing the hedging strategy. Main difference, if any, is to place all options on the table like in business negotiations, and apply oppressive and seductive measures to the greatest extent to highlight the commitment to “Peace through Strength” and pursue stronger domestic political execution capabilities than Trump’s predecessor. For now at least, Trump has not formed much strategic thinking or any long-term plan on the North Korean nuclear issue, nor has he profoundly thought about fundamentally solving the issue. The stress reactions that prevail reflect his pragmatism. It can even be said that Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy is the “extended version” of the Obama policy.[34]

Launching military attack against North Korea, physically wiping out the North Korean leadership, and changing its regime with special means are all extremely risky options with little certainty of realizing the expected goal and no control over the consequences. Therefore, rather than hastily resort to a military approach, the calculating Trump can only continue to “prioritize diplomatic solutions.” Even though the US turned each violation of UN Security Council resolution by North Korea into more stringent sanctions, the effect has been limited in the last two years. Despite progressive external sanctions and blockade, the North Korean domestic economy in Kim Jong-un’s times does not seem worse than that in Kim Jong Il’s, as economic growth was around 1% in both 2015 and 2016, compared with slow growth of 0.8% to 1.3% from 2011 to 2015.[35] In 2016, domestic grain yield increased by 7% to 4.81 million tons, which met people’s minimum demand and has been unrivalled since the grain shortage in the mid-1990s.[36] Facing Kim Jong-un’s “double strategy” focusing on both nuclear and missile development and people’s livelihood, the harsher “stick” used by the US is not enough to push North Korea to the “critical level” for endogenous changes.

Soon after the Trump administration intended to offer a “carrot” to North Korea, a series of events rendered such policy ill-timed: substantive breakthrough in North Korea’s nuclear and missile technologies, assassination of Kim Jong-un’s elder brother Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia in February 2017, and the 17-month detention of US college student Otto Warmbier, who was declared vegetative and died soon after his release in June. Trump was forced to stress further sanctions and dialogue with allies to extend strategic deterrence.

It seems that senior US officials consider the North Korean nuclear and missile issues as a “credible nuclear threat.” However, it remains doubtful as to how many reliable and effective solutions and means the US side has to solve this issue— whether they use an iron hand or velvet gloves. Just as the Washington Post pointed out in an article on April 14th, there are several unanswered questions about the Trump administration’s North Korea policy: What assurances can the United States give China about what would happen if the Kim regime does collapse? What exactly are the steps Pyongyang must take before engagement becomes viable? In what form will that engagement materialize? Are key allies such as Japan and South Korea on board?[37]

 

IV. Despite enormous pressure regarding the North Korean nuclear issue, China sticks to the goal of denuclearization and a peaceful settlement via talks, which has gradually gained understanding and recognition in the international community.

In 2017, China’s role in the North Korean nuclear issue has received much attention. For one thing, the Trump administration, disregarding China’s effort to mediate the Six-Party Talks, is attacking China through political approaches and public opinion. By disseminating the rhetoric that “China is the only country that can curb North Korea” and “China has not performed its duties on the North Korean nuclear issue,” they placed the issue at the top of the security agenda in China-US relations and regarded China as the key to effectively impose more stringent sanctions, with an aim to transfer the pressure of North Korean nuclear crisis to China.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration upgraded US policies toward Asia-Pacific into the so-called “Indo-Pacific Strategy.” In the name of responding to “North Korean nuclear and missile threats,” the US accelerated deploying and upgrading strategic weapons on the Korean Peninsula, including pushing forward THAAD deployment in South Korea, which has further changed the situation of strategic security in Northeast Asia and exposed China to greater strategic pressure. Additionally, North Korean nuclear missile behaviors, which are gradually spinning out of control, triggered concern worldwide. Based on the stereotype that China has “special influence” over North Korea, the international community has expressed much skepticism and criticism over China’s willingness to contain the worsening situation in North Korea.

On September 6th, Future of U.S. Sanctions Task Force, founded by Center for a New American Security early in 2017, made an assessment on China’s fulfillment of “duties of sanctioning North Korea” when giving suggestions to the Trump administration on effectively carrying out sanctions against Pyongyang. The conclusion reflected what the US itself believed: China’s performance in carrying out resolutions to impose sanctions on North Korea has been unsatisfactory.

One reason for this was that the special relations between the two countries undermined China’s political will to crack down trade with North Korea; the other was that “corruption” prevailed in China, especially in frontier defense and other public security forces. The report from Center for a New American Security also argued that China needs to make a clearer political gesture that it will fully carry out the new resolutions to impose sanctions against North Korea, and will make coordinated efforts to enhance compliance with the resolutions, including allocating more central government resources to the North Korean border for cargo inspection to ensure that banned trades are completely blocked in the border areas. As 90% of North Korean foreign trade is linked with China, the compliance of Chinese companies and custom with sanction acts and resolutions regarding North Korea is the key to the success of these sanction measures.[38]

Facing increasing tension due to the North Korean situation and doubts regarding China’s role, China has been calm in clarifying its stance and pointing out the essence of the conflict. By proposing a tie-breaking plan featuring “two suspensions” and a “dual-track approach,” China actively promoted dialogues and prevented conflict. Meanwhile, based on national interests, China safeguards and presides over the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula through adherence to the general goal of denuclearization and peaceful settlement via talks, and fully, accurately, seriously, and strictly carrying out relevant resolutions from the UN Security Council. In this process, China-US communication has played a vital role.

(I) China remains in frequent touch and coordinates with top US leadership to exert positive influence on Trump administration and drive US position closer to China.

In 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping held three meetings and nine calls with US President Trump, with North Korean nuclear issue as a key topic.

On April 6th and 7th, Chinese President Xi Jinping held the first meeting with US President Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, USA. Regarding the nuclear activities on the Korean Peninsula, China reiterated its commitment to denuclearization of the Peninsula, maintenance of peace and stability there, and settlement via peace talks. China will continue to fully carry out UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea. China introduced its “dual-track approach” and suggestion on “two suspensions” to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, hoping to find opportunities for restarting talks. China also reiterated its opposition to US deployment of THAAD in South Korea. Both sides confirmed their commitment to the denuclearization of the Peninsula and agreed to maintain close contact and coordination on the issue. Agreement was also reached on expanding cooperation on dealing with global challenges such as non-proliferation and transnational crime.[39]

News from various sources show that in this important presidential meeting, the Chinese leader spent a relatively long time discussing the historical proceedings of the North Korean nuclear issue, during which he explained China’s position in detail. This “cultivated” the new US leader, and this was implicitly proved by Trump during an interview with Wall Street Journal on April 12th. He said, that President Xi “went into the history of China and Korea. Not North Korea, Korea. And you know, you're talking about thousands of years ...and many wars. And Korea actually used to be a part of China. And after listening for 10 minutes I realized that not—it's not so easy.”[40]

From November 8th to 10th, the US President Trump had a state visit to China, when the two heads of state exchanged in-depth views on China-US relations and major international and regional issues of common concern. President Xi Jinping fully explained China’s consistent position on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula. Both sides agreed to commit to maintaining the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, reaffirmed their commitments to the comprehensive, verifiable, and irreversible goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, and did not recognize North Korea as a nuclear state. Both sides believed that nuclear and missile tests by North Korea violated relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and agreed to continue fully and strictly implementing relevant UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea for renewed pressure on North Korean nuclear and missile activities. Meanwhile, both sides should push efforts to peaceful settlement via talks and address reasonable concerns of all parties. Both sides agreed to maintain contact regarding future trends on the Peninsula and corresponding measures by China and the US, and continue to strengthen communication and cooperation via existing mechanisms. Both sides stressed the common goal in the final settlement of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula via talks, and would work to maintain peace and stability on the Peninsula.[41]

When the two heads of state jointly met the press on November 9th, Xi Jinping stated that China and the US reaffirmed their firm commitments to realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and maintaining the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. Both sides commit to resolve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiation, and stand ready to jointly discuss with all parties concerned the effective approach for realizing long-lasting peace and stability on the Peninsula and Northeast Asia. Trump reiterated during the press meeting that the US and China jointly commit to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

China and US have both common interests and serious disagreements regarding the North Korean nuclear issue. The consensus lies in the following: both sides stick to the goal of denuclearizing Korean Peninsula, oppose North Korea’s possession of nuclear capabilities, and hope to bring it back to negotiations; both sides agree to pressure North Korea to maintain the denuclearization goal, including international sanctions; both sides are firmly against the dissemination of nuclear and missile technologies and materials, and agree to uphold the international non-proliferation regime.

There is also much divergence: the US believes all options can be put on the table, and sticks to stronger deterrence of force by not excluding the greater possibility of military settlement, and not giving up on the idea of overthrowing the North Korean regime; China firmly opposes military settlement, advocates a peaceful and orderly Peninsula, and consistently emphasizes peaceful settlement of the North Korean nuclear issue via talks and negotiations; the US believes that China can play a more substantial role in exerting pressure on North Korea, whereas China has always been alert to US shifting responsibilities and pressure. Being preoccupied with other intentions, the US has been increasing deployment of strategic weapons in Northeast Asia in the name of preventing the nuclear and missile threat of North Korea, especially the missile defense system, which upsets the strategic balance in the region; China must balance its own strategic and security interests in dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue, as well as the China-US strategic confrontation. Anyways, as the two critical parties with major stake in the North Korean nuclear issue, China and the US strengthened strategic coordination despite tension. It can be said that with a year’s unswerving effort, China has made significant achievements, and the US is drawing closer to China’s position.

(III). Support UN Security Council to take further actions, adopt necessary measures for strict implementation of UN resolutions concerning North Korea, and thus earnestly play the role as a major responsible country.

China voted in favor of UN Security Council Resolution 2356 and Resolution 2375. On February 18th, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the General Administration of Customs (GAC) jointly announced a suspension of coal import from North Korea as of February 19th for the remainder of this year. On August 14th, the MOFCOM and GAC jointly announced a ban on all imports of aquatic products, coal, iron, iron ore, lead, and lead ore from North Korea as of August 15th. On September 11th, the People’s Bank of China issued a notice to the whole industry, and demanded that financial agencies and specific non-financial institutions register related individuals and entities in their system and conduct retrospective investigation once they receive notice to carry out relevant UN Security Council resolutions from the foreign ministry. On September 22nd, the MOFCOM and GAC announced that China would restrict the export of refined petroleum products to North Korea, and comprehensively prohibit the import of textiles from North Korea and the export of condensate oil and liquefied natural gas to the country. On September 28th, the MOFCOM announced that any Sino-foreign equity joint venture, Sino-foreign cooperative joint venture, or wholly foreign-owned enterprise established within the territory of China by an entity or individual from North Koreashall would be shut down within 120 days from the date of adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 2375; any equity or cooperative joint venture established outside China by a Chinese enterprise with an entity or individual from North Korea shall also be shut down accordingly.

Furthermore, China opposes any unilateral sanctions imposed outside the framework of the UN Security Council, especially the so-called “long-arm jurisdiction” implemented by some countries in accordance with their domestic laws, and conducted necessary diplomatic negotiations. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson has reiterated that, in principle, China has been implementing the Security Council resolutions comprehensively and earnestly and fulfilling its international obligations. For Chinese enterprises and individuals, if any violation is found against the Security Council resolutions, China will deal with it according to Chinese laws and regulations. China strongly urges the US to immediately correct its practices so that bilateral cooperation on relevant issues would not be affected.

(IV). Propose the “dual-track approach” and the “suspension-for-suspension” initiative in face of Korean Peninsula crisis, and gradually gain international community acknowledgement though running into resistance from North Korea, the US and South Korea.

On March 8th, at the press conference for the fifth session of 12th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the fifth session of the 12th National People’s Congress, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi remarked that to defuse the looming crisis on the peninsula, China proposes, as a first step, North Korea suspends its missile and nuclear activities in exchange for a halt of the large-scale US-South Korea exercises. This “suspension-for-suspension” can help break out of the “security dilemma” and bring the parties back to the negotiating table. Then the countries can follow the dual-track approach of denuclearizing the peninsula and establishing a peace mechanism. Only by addressing the parties’ concerns in a synchronized and reciprocal manner, can we find a fundamental solution to lasting peace and stability on the peninsula. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also noted that China’s proposal, fully in keeping with UN resolutions, tries to get to the crux of the matter. To resolve the nuclear issue, China must walk on both legs, which means not just implementing sanctions, but also restarting talks, both of which are set out in the Security Council resolutions.[42]

On April 28th, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the Open Ministerial Meeting of the UN Security Council on the Korean Nuclear Issue, and acknowledged that, “the situation is highly likely to spiral out of control.” He also noted that China will adhere to two basic directions no matter what happens. One is to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula; the other is to resolve it peacefully through dialogue and negotiations. Wang Yi further introduced Chinas dual-track approach and suspension-for-suspension proposal. The “dual-track approach,” following the principles of synchronization and reciprocity, aims to denuclearize the peninsula and establish a peace mechanism, and finally solves them together. The “suspension-for-suspension” proposal is to propel the two sides in the Korean Peninsula issue back to negotiation table through the suspension of North Korea’s nuclear missiles tests and the joint military exercises held by the US and South Korea, so as to start the first step of the “dual-track” mechanism. These schemes combine the short-term goal with the long-term goal and complement one another. They not only focus on resolving the most pressing concerns of all sides, but also to pave the road for North Korean denuclearization. Wang Yi also stressed that the most important thing at present is to stop North Korea’s nuclear missile development process. To achieve this, all parties must put aside their self-interest, shelve the argument of who is wrong and pick the “ripe fruits” first, solving difficult problems for the peace of the Korean Peninsula and creating conditions for the stability of the region.[43]

On September 7th, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara of Nepal jointly met the press in Beijing after their talks. Less than a week before, North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test. Wang Yi commented that this nuclear test severely violated the UN Security Council resolutions and impacted the international nuclear non-proliferation system, to which China is resolutely opposed. China hopes North Korea could have a clear picture of the situation, make correct judgment and choice, stop acting willfully and cease defiance of the consensus and baseline of the international community once again. China believes that sanctions and pressure are just half of the solution to addressing the issue, and the other half is dialogue and negotiation. Only with the combination of sanction and dialogue can the peninsula nuclear issue be resolved.[44]

On September 21st, Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended and delivered a speech at the General Debate of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly. On the North Korean nuclear issue, Wang Yi emphasized that China has always been a force for peace. China has made unremitting efforts for peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula. No matter how the situation evolves, no matter how long it takes, and no matter what difficulties lie ahead, China will remain committed to the goal of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, stick to the direction of dialogue and negotiation, and firmly uphold regional peace and stability.[45]

However, China did not see positive response from the US, South Korea, and North Korea after it proposed the “dual-track approach” and the “suspension-for-suspension” initiative.

North Korea stressed that, regarding its sovereignty, it has the right to develop nuclear weapons to defend national independence and ensure its existence. Only if the US firstly abandons its hostile policies against North Korea, can there be possible negotiations on suspending nuclear tests.

The attitude of North Korea coincides with China’s suggestions to some degree. In an interview with Indian press on April 19th, the North Korean ambassador to India, Kye Chun-yong, said that, “Under certain circumstances, we are willing to talk in terms of freezing nuclear testing or missile testing.. For instance, if the American side completely stops big, large-scale military exercises temporarily or permanently, then we will also temporarily stop. Let’s talk about how to solve the Korean issue peacefully.”

Meanwhile, North Korea seems to be resentful about China. Aside from dispatching Kim Yong Jae, the country’s minister for external economic relations to the Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing in May, there was no substantive high-level reciprocal visit ever since. It was not until Song Tao, special envoy to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and Director of the International Department, Central Committee of CPC, visited North Korea from November 17th to November 20th with the task of “giving a briefing on the recently concluded 19th CPC National Congress” that the deadlock was broken.[46]

The US and South Korea dismissed China’s “suspension-for-suspension” proposal. The UN Security Council met behind closed doors on March 8th, and discussed North Korea’s missile development. The incumbent US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley noted that as North Korea continued to conduct nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches, US military action remained on the table. On the same day, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said that the US would continue to work with South Korea, and ensure that it has the essential military force to defend itself. Then, a US State Department spokesman said to the press: “We remain open to dialogue with North Korea with the aim of returning to credible and authentic negotiations on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” while noting that “the onus is on DPRK to take meaningful actions toward denuclearization and refrain from provocations,” and furthermore, “Our joint military exercises are transparent, they’re defense-oriented, and have been carried out regularly and openly under the Combined Forces Command for going on 40 years.” Conducted as a clear demonstration of the US commitment to the alliance, the military exercise is designed to increase readiness to defend South Korea, to protect the region, and to maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula. “It’s not a fair trade” for the US accept a simultaneous suspension of the US-South Korea joint exercises. According to Sputnik, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said on September 4th that the US strongly opposes the proposal of suspending the US-South Korea joint exercises in exchange for North Korea’s end to nuclear tests and missile launching. “When a rogue regime has a nuclear weapon and an ICBM pointed at you, you do not take steps to lower your guard. No one would do that.”

On June 22nd, during a regular press briefing, South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck stressed that North Korean nuclear and missile tests are violations of international law, but the annual joint exercise of South Korea is only for defensive purposes and is carried out legitimately. On August 25th, after a meeting with her Russian counterpart Sergej Lawrow, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha expressed similar opinions with Nikki Haley, vetoing the “unreasonable” suspension-for-suspension proposal.[47]

Nevertheless, South Korea did not reject the dual-track approach and the suspension-for-suspension initiative entirely. In many internal dialogues and academic exchanges, South Korea expressed that they might have only limited understanding of China’s proposal, and thus need to study its rationale more. Since October, there has been a turnaround in China-South Korea relations caused by THAAD trouble, and the Moon Jae-in administration stepped up its efforts in formulating the “New Northern Policy.” It remains to be seen whether South Korea takes a similar approach to the North Korean nuclear issue with China.

 

V. More active in coordinating the North Korea nuclear issue, Russia is expected to be an important channel facilitating peaceful settlement of Korean Peninsula issues through dialogues.

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia took an on-looker’s attitude towards the security affairs of the Korean Peninsula, while taking initiative in developing diplomatic relations with South Korea mainly out of economic considerations. After Putin assumed office in 2000, under the guidance of the national rejuvenation strategy and “turn to the East” policy, Russia gradually paid more attention and put more effort into the Korean Peninsula affairs. Once, during a round of Six-Party Talks, Russia attempted to mediate along with the US and China as an equal, and engaged in promoting the resolution of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asian security issues. As the international rumor goes, when Putin visited North Korea in July 2000, he reached a verbal agreement with former president Kim Jong-Il that North Korea would conditionally give up its ballistic missile programs, and Russia would act as the “guarantor.” After this visit, Russia tried hard to communicate to the international community that this verbal agreement might be formalized as long as all relevant parties work actively.

In October 2002, North Korea admitted that it was secretly developing nuclear weapons, which escalated the confrontation between the US and North Korea. Under this scenario, Russia chose to “take no side.” On the one hand, it showed respect for North Korea’s reasonable demand of ensuring national security; on the other hand, it expressed understanding of the US’s efforts in preventing nuclear proliferation and called on North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

Since 2006, Russia has taken a stance of ensuring nuclear non-proliferation. It is unequivocally against North Korea’s nuclear tests, calls on the country to abandon its nuclear weapon development programs and implement nuclear freezing, and expresses willingness to offer North Korea technological assistance so that it uses nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and thus lead economic and social development to a normalized channel. However, Russia often exploits diplomatic means to block or delay new sanctions imposed on North Korea by the UN Security Council, or to oppose unilateral sanctions against the country. Since 2014, Russia started to condemn North Korea’s nuclear tests and missile launching in a stronger manner, claiming that its behaviors have endangered the global effort to contain weapons of mass destruction.

While the international community, Western countries and the US included, imposes more and more stringent sanctions on North Korea, Russia maintains a channel to provide the country with humanitarian assistance and economic and trade cooperation, and seeks to expand room for cooperation beyond the power of UN resolutions. In 2014, Russia’s parliament adopted an act that exempted North Korea from 90% of its historical debt, through which the obstacles hindering Russia-North Korea economic cooperation were ultimately removed. In April of the same year, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia and Presidential Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev visited North Korea, and offered it fire fighter trucks, grain, and drugs at no cost. Then in October, North Korean Foreign Minister Lee Su-yong paid a call on Russia, and was given 50,000 tons of grain for free. From 2014 to 2015, Russia has offered North Korea a total of nearly 100,000 tons of free wheat.

On March 1st 2016, a day before the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2270, Russia delivered 2,500 tons of wheat to North Korea through the donation of UN World Food Programme (WFP), and confirmed the plan to introduce more North Korean labor forces to construct Russia’s Far East Advanced Special Economic Zone. As of now, there are over 30,000 North Korean laborers working in Russia. On May 17th 2017, the North Korean passenger-cargo vessel Man Gyong Bong departed for the first time from the Rajin Port at Rason Special Economic Zone and arrived in Russia’s Vladivostok the next day, marking the opening of the first regular shipping lane between the two countries.

After North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test in September 2017, Russian President Putin declined Moon Jae-in’s requirement to enforce the petroleum embargo against North Korea, and stressed at the Eastern Economic Forum that if oil supply to North Korea were to be cut off, the lives of common people and the operation of hospitals and other institutions would be damaged. “Do not drive North Korea into a corner,” Putin warned.

After a period of mediation, the “marginalization” tendency of Russia’s status in the Korean Peninsula is now under control, and a rather systematic political, economic, and security architecture of its Korean Peninsula policies has been re-established. At its current stage, Russia takes a more proactive stance in making overall strategic arrangements with the Korean Peninsula, as a result of four major considerations.

Firstly, Russia does not want the peninsula to fall into chaos. A turbulent peninsula will harm the stability and development of the Far East region, and it creates an influx of refugees into Russia. Secondly, Russia hopes to take advantage of the strength of North Korea, South Korea, and China to maintain the status quo on the Korean Peninsula. In this way, Russia will have a chance to implement its agreements with North Korea on linking the Trans-Siberian Railway with the southern and northern part of the peninsula, renovating the railways connecting Incheon, South Korea, Chongkin, North Korea, and Vladivostok, Russia, introducing Russian oil and gas into the peninsula, helping North Korea transform its old industrial bases, taking advantage of North Korean labor to develop the Far East, and attracting more South Korean investment to Russia, to name but a few. Thirdly, Russia worries that a nuclear-armed North Korea may push Japan and South Korea to launch nuclear programs. Once the nuclear weapons and technologies of North Korea are possessed by international terrorists, the security interests of Russia will be harmed. Fourthly, Russia wants to prevent the US from the accelerated accumulation of strategic advantages in East Asia in the name of the North Korean nuclear issue. This is the core concern of Russia with security issues on the Korean Peninsula.[48]

At the current stage, Russia, under the leadership of Putin, is confronted with multiple problems, including a worsening relationship with the US, and a lack of resources to deal with the Korean Peninsula issue. Under this backdrop, and also propelled by the tendency of a closer comprehensive strategic partnership between Russia and China, Russia seems to be more proactive in strengthening policy communication and position coordination with China on Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia affairs, in the hope of supporting each other on relevant issues.

On July 4th 2017, the Chinese and Russian foreign ministries issued a joint statement on the Korean Peninsula issue. “The Parties are putting forward a joint initiative based on the ideas proposed by China of a ‘suspension for suspension’ (of the DPRK’s nuclear and missile activities and the United States’ and the Republic of Korea’s large-scale joint military exercises) and a ‘dual-track approach’ to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment there of a mechanism for peace, and on the phased plan proposed by Russia for a resolution of the issues facing the Korean Peninsula.” The Parties affirm that the deployment of THAAD anti-missile defense systems in northeast Asia is extremely detrimental to the strategic security interests of States in the region, and urge the relevant countries to immediately halt and cancel the deployment. They have agreed to take the necessary steps to protect the security interests of the two countries and ensure strategic balance in the region.[49]

 

VI. Conclusions

Overall, the first three quarters of 2017 witnessed spiraling escalation of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, while the last quarter was relatively calm until the end of the year when it rebounded. North Korea did not carry out any obviously detectable missile or nuclear activities during the seventy-four days between the missile launch on September 15th and the test of another intercontinental ballistic missile on November 29th.

It is generally expected that the “calm” may result from three reasons. First, North Korea is unable to clearly identify the trend of Trump’s North Korea policy, and remains uncertain about China’s potential responses, thus needing time to further consider the situation. Secondly, due to the intense consumption of nuclear and missile materials and tightening external sanctions, North Korea must reduce the intensity of nuclear and missile activities. Thirdly, after its sixth nuclear test, two landslides, with a series of tremors, occurred at the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site. This means that the mountains nearby have been heavily damaged after the underground nuclear tests conducted in recent years, and it needs to be evaluated whether the site can be used for any more tests. Meanwhile, it requires time to enable the alternate site.

However, the “calm” does not mean that North Korea is ready to halt its nuclear and missile programs. Instead, North Korea continues to demonstrate its unbending will to seek advances in its nuclear and missile technologies, and intends to push the process forward with more tests. In response to Trump’s threat of war against North Korea in his UNGA speech, Kim Jong-un released a statement as Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of North Korea, saying that he was considering “highest level of hardline countermeasure in history.” In this regard, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, during his stay in New York for the UNGA, told reporters on September 23rd that Kim’s earlier warning could mean “the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific.” In early morning on November 29th, a “Hwasong-15” long-range ballistic missile was launched from the South Pyongan Province, North Korea, into the waters off the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula. It was again fired on an elevated trajectory, reaching an altitude of around 4,500 km and travelling altogether 960 km downrange. Based on the two figures, it can be estimated that the missile’s engine could be shut down at around 7.2 km per second, and its operational range may reach 12,000 km if fired on a standard trajectory. Citing the Russian press, the website 38 North stated that there was continued activity at the shipyards in Sinpo, North Korea, which indicates that Pyongyang may be preparing for a new test of submarine-launched missiles, seeking to build up its marine nuclear force based on diesel-electric submarines, just as the Soviet Union did in the 1950s.[50]

On the same day that it completed the test fire of “Hwasong-15”, Pyongyang announced that: “It is the most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile which meets the goal of the completion of the rocket weaponry system development set by the DPRK,” and that “Kim Jong-un oversaw the successful launch of the ICBM, and proudly asserted that ‘now we have finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of building a rocket power’.”

On December 8th, the Guardian reported that, according to the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, North Korea has expressed through Russia its hope of negotiations with the US, saying that it is open to “direct talks” with the US over the “nuclear standoff,” and seeks security assurances from Washington. Lavrov passed that message to his counterpart, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, when the two diplomats met in Vienna on December 7th. But there was no immediate response from Tillerson.

Around the time of the latest round of missile activities of North Korea, the US showed no sign of reducing sanction pressure or strategic deterrence.

From November 3rd to 14th 2017, Trump visited Japan, South Korea, and China, and attended the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting in Vietnam and the East Asia Summit in the Philippines. The North Korean nuclear issue was a central topic during his Asia visit. Trump kept highlighting the global threats posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs; he also required East Asian countries to impose tighter economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation on North Korea, and prompted Russia to press North Korea to call off its programs.

On November 20th, Trump put North Korea back on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, which already includes Iran, Sudan, and Syria, saying that North Korea is not a country, but a terrorist group. On November 21st, the US Department of Treasury slapped new sanctions on North Korea which targeted third-country persons with long-standing commercial ties with North Korea, as well as the transportation networks that facilitate North Korea’s revenue generation and operations. One individual, thirteen entities, and twenty vessels were added to its sanctions list, including Dandong Dongyuan Industrial Co., Ltd. and three other Chinese trading companies and a Chinese national.

From December 4th to 8th, the US and South Korea jointly launched the large-scale aerial drill “Vigilant Ace,” with around 240 aircraft deployed from 8 bases taking part.

The White House’s response to North Korea’s request for dialogue was rather obscure. On the Atlantic Council-Korea Foundation Forum held on December 12th, when answering questions during his speech, Tillerson remarked that: “The most recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, I think, demonstrates they certainly have capability to continue to advance their program. … So we need the DPRK to come to the – come to the table for talks. We’re ready to talk anytime North Korea would like to talk, and we’re ready to have the first meeting without precondition…but they have to come to the table and they have to come to the table with a view that they do want to make a different choice. The US holds a clear stance against the North Korean nuclear issue, which is, demanding the Korean Peninsula to realize comprehensive and verifiable denuclearization. As of now, the maximum pressure it imposes on North Korea has delivered substantive results. Though the US Army remains vigilant at all times, diplomatic efforts will never stop until the last moment.”

However, during an interview with the press the next day, the White House National Security Council (NSC) official stated that, “The administration is united in insisting that any negotiations with North Korea must wait until the regime fundamentally improves its behavior,” And that “As the secretary of state himself has said, this must include, but is not limited to, no further nuclear or missile tests.” Furthermore, “given North Korea’s most recent missile test, clearly right now is not the time (for talks),” she noted, which negated Tillerson’s softened tone towards North Korea.

Following this, the US continued to press its allies and China to impose stricter restrictions and blockades on North Korea, including asking China to cut off oil supply to North Korea. In a series of negotiations on the United Nations Security Council, the US Ambassador Nikki Haley insisted that international sanctions have helped to disrupt 90% of North Korean trade and 30% of its oil import. However, as a result of Chinese support,  crude oil import remains unaffected. “China must cut off oil supply to North Korea.”

By officially affirming that the US will adhere to its hostile “maximum pressure” policy towards North Korea, the actions taken by the Trump administration deepened North Korea’s hostility to the US, and closed the “window of opportunity” for the resumption of talks on the North Korean nuclear issue at least for the rest of the year.

On December 22nd, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2397, moderately imposing more stringent sanctions on North Korea. The resolution decreed  that the DPRK must cut the procurement of refined petroleum products from 2,000,000 barrels to 500,000 barrels during a period of twelve months beginning on January 1st, 2018, and that for twelve months periods thereafter, the import of all crude oil must not exceed 4 million barrels aggregated per twelve-month period. The resolution also stated that the DPRK shall not supply, sell, or transfer food, agricultural products, machinery, and electrical equipment (the value of exports of relevant products is about USD 200 million), and reiterated that member states shall repatriate to the DPRK all its workers abroad within the given period. The resolution also stated that if the DPRK conducts a further nuclear test or a launch of a ballistic missile system capable of reaching intercontinental ranges, then the Security Council will “take action to restrict further the export to the DPRK of petroleum.” Trump welcomed the adoption of resolution, tweeting that “the world wants peace, not death.”

The development in the North Korean nuclear issue shows that it has entered a new stage. Based on how the issue has evolved previously, three possible futures are plausible: in the first, North Korea returns to the negotiating table under external pressure, and its nuclear and missile programs come to a standstill for a period of time; in the second one, the deadlock over the North Korean nuclear issue remains, and North Korea acquires nuclear capabilities amid heavy pressure from the international community, just as India and Pakistan did; in the third one, a crisis or military conflict occurs on the Korean Peninsula.

On April 30th 2017, Fu Ying, the Chairperson of National People’s Congress Foreign Affairs Committee and Chief Expert of National Institute for Global Strategy at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, released a lengthy report titled The Korean Nuclear Issue: Past, Present, and Future—A Chinese Perspective through the US-based Brookings Institution. In the report, Fu offered an overview of how the North Korean Nuclear talks went, pointing out that the Six-Party Talks produced three documents, including the September 19th Joint Statement, the February 13th Joint Document, and the October 3rd Joint Document—representing the maximum consensus among all parties and together providing a roadmap for a political solution to the North Korean nuclear issue. The disruption of the talks was due to a failure to implement agreements, and the nuclear issue has escalated in the absence of talks, resulting in a vicious cycle of US and UN sanctions followed by North Korean nuclear and missile tests. Looking ahead, Fu did not rule out the possibility of “endless delays,” which means that the pattern of intensifying sanctions and continued nuclear testing may remain until North Korean nuclear and missile technologies reach a “tipping point.” She also noted that, as North Korea’s nuclear and missile technologies have been developed step by step, the ground has shifted and the basis for negotiation has changed significantly since 2003 when the Six-Party Talks were launched. If talks are resumed, whether all parties can accept the new circumstances and restart negotiations without preconditions will be an important factor determining the success of talks.

 If the historical logic still applies, we can make the following judgment on the development of the North Korean nuclear issue in the next period to come.

(I) There would be no turning back for North Korea—it is determined to overcome all obstructions and become a de facto nuclear power. North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs are aimed at ensuring the country’s security and strengthening its bargaining position to discuss the future of the Korean Peninsula directly with the US. This ultimate goal demonstrates North Korea’s core interests, thus transcending all difficulties and pressure that its nuclear and missile programs may face. Sanctions have limitations: it’s difficult to realize political and security goals with economic measures. As such, more political and security approaches are called for.

(II) In dealing with North Korean nuclear and missile issues, the Trump administration has always either passively waited for change or attempted to effect change by pressuring North Korea, an approach which has long been in use by the US government. Evidently, the US President is unlikely to renounce his government’s ultimate goal of changing the North Korean system and regime; moreover, the US is bent on using China to pressure North Korea to disarm, transferring the heavy burden to China. This attitude indicates that the US is lacking sincerity in its commitment to settle the North Korean nuclear issue.

(III) The US military preparations against North Korea are underway, but chances that the US would wage war against North Korea in the near future are slim. For one thing, the Trump administration always emphasizes its “America First” policy, and, instead of igniting conflict overseas, concentrates on domestic affairs. For another, any military means used against North Korea would deliver unpredictable and uncontrollable results, be it a limited military strike, a substantial military conflict, or a full-scale war. Meanwhile, the US believes that the existing sanctions have not exhausted the ways to pressure North Korea in both economic and political terms, and that China and Russia can play a bigger role in it.

However, as further changes occur in the domestic political landscapes in the US, it is possible that the situation may imminently worsen, provided that North Korea continues conducting nuclear and missile tests which would further irritate the international community and potentially cause major military conflicts on the Korean Peninsula or between North Korea and the US or its ally Japan in Northeast Asia, especially in the latter half of Trump’s term of office when he must satisfy domestic political needs to seek reelection. The underlying trend seems to indicate that the North Korean nuclear issue will be settled by force.

(IV) Although the denuclearization of the peninsula seems to have reached a dead end, all parties involved, except North Korea, are still heading towards the same direction, leaving aside all their differing interests and views on the North Korean nuclear issue. There is still hope for a peaceful resolution.

North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons may set off a chain reaction of consequences: South Korea and Japan may too, decide to have their own nuclear weapons, thus making Asia “a nuclear jungle” and seriously threatening the international nuclear nonproliferation structure. From this perspective alone, the views of those who believe that nations will tend to acquiesce are not legitimate even in nominal terms.

(V) China’s impacts on North Korea are still very limited. This can be attributed to the fact that, at present, the two countries follow fundamentally different strategies on the nuclear issue, hold different views on development paths and governance modes, and even have different judgments on the world today. During this past year, the China-South Korea relations suffered a severe regress due to the issue of THAAD deployment. Even till now the two countries find it difficult to work together. In China, when it comes to the origin of the North Korean nuclear issue, countermeasures to be taken, and proper solutions, opinions differ at least in terms of public awareness. As a result, China wields far less influence on North Korea and contributes unsatisfactorily to mediation concerning the North Korean nuclear issue. Facts have shown that, to play a special role on this issue, China must maintain basically good relations with all parties directly involved in the issue.

(VI) The pattern of the North Korean nuclear issue has been unprecedentedly complicated. The contradiction between North Korea and the US can be considered the core contradiction of the issue. Of course, the delicate, intricate, and even competitive and hostile relations between China and the US, Russia and the US, China and North Korea, as well as North Korea and South Korea have profound impacts on the development of the issue. In addressing the North Korean nuclear issue, as North Korea-US dialogues are the most meaningful, and China-US coordination the most critical, the role of Russia is notably on the rise. Boasting a nuclear arsenal and tremendous geopolitical strategic space, Russia considers the issue as a peripheral one. It’s apparent that North Korea is taking advantage of the interest and cognitive differences between China, the US, and Russia to promote its nuclear programs. Despite the deterrence of recent China-US cooperation, if the three countries cannot reach a consensus, and “instrumentalize” the North Korean nuclear issue, the concert of great powers may be futile.

China proposes that, as a first step, North Korea should suspend its missile and nuclear activities in exchange for a halt in large-scale US-South Korean exercises; meanwhile, the international community can follow the dual-track approach of denuclearizing the peninsula and establishing a peace mechanism. The proposal’s design is based on China’s experience in the Six-Party Talks and mediating the North Korean nuclear issue over the years. It exhibits, at its core, the principles provided in the September 19 Joint Statement at the conclusion of the fourth round of Six-Party Talks in 2005, and the previous consensus reached by all parties. More importantly, the dual-track approach also provides basic insight into the issue: apart from sanctions and pressure, talks and negotiations will also be involved in the efforts to settle the issue— to put it more clearly, a peaceful settlement via talks shall be the only option.

China must sort out its interests and values regarding the issue as soon as possible, and establish a policy with national interests, people’s wellbeing, and the merits of the issue in mind. The policy should not be categorically idealistic, nor a completely realistic one; it should not be taken out of its historical context, nor trapped in the country’s past. China’s interests may not be the only consideration, but the policy must not ignore China’s interests for the sake of internationalism. Certainly, it should not go against the advancement of human civilization or undermine the globally shared desire for peace and security.

Just as Fu Ying noted in The Korean Nuclear Issue: Past, Present, and Future, when it comes to the North Korean nuclear issue, China’s interest lies in ensuring a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, and preventing the disruption of peace and security in Northeast Asia and the whole of the Asia Pacific. China’s responsibility is to play a proactive role in achieving the above objectives through peaceful means, and to help bring about a peace accord, thus creating lasting peace and enabling greater cooperation in the region. China should also be firm in preventing any major turbulence or even conflict on the Peninsula. Only through dialogue can mutual security be achieved. In this way, we may help wrestle the Korean Peninsula out of its current vicious cycle and prevent Northeast Asia from turning into a “Dark Forest.”

 This report is a sponsored project of the Center for Regional Security Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and a contribution to the series of books on international strategic studiesChina’s Regional Security Environment Review: 2017 (Eds by Zhang Jie). Finished on November 30th 2017, and updated on December 30th, the book is to be published by Social Sciences Academic Press in early 2018. And this article is also the outcome of the research project at China Center for International Economic Exchanges


[1]An Gang, Editor of World Affairs and Senior Researcher at Pangoal Institution. This report is also the outcome of the research project at China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

[2] Test of H-bomb for ICBM achieves a perfect success, KCNA, 2017-9-3, http://www.kcna.kp/kcna.user.article.retrieveNewsViewInfoList.kcmsf#this.

[3]DPRK SEPT. 2017 unusual seismic event, CTBTO, 2017-11-27, http://www.ctbto.org/the-treaty/developments-after-1996/2017-sept-dprk/

[4]North Korea’s Sixth Nuclear Test: A First Look, 38 NORTH2017-9-5http://www.38north.org/2017/09/punggye090517/ ; North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site: Satellite Imagery Shows Post-Test Effects and New Activity in Alternate Tunnel Portal Areas, 38North, 2017-9-12, http://www.38north.org/2017/09/punggye091217/

[5]Zhao Lianfeng et. al. (2017). Research Letter: Preliminary Results of Seismic Analysis, Depth, and Equivalent Estimate for North Korea’s Underground Nuclear Test on September 3rd, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2017-9-4,

http://www.igg.cas.cn/xwzx/kyjz/201709/t20170904_4854427.html

[6] How powerful is North Korea’s nuclear bomb? cn.nikkei.com, 2017-9-6, https://cn.nikkei.com/politicsaeconomy/politicsasociety/26882-2017-09-06-16-20-30.html

[7] Report of Sputni, Russia, on October 20th.

[8] Kim Jong-un claims combat power of Hwasong-12 missile, Xinhua News Agency, 2017-9-16, http://news.xinhuanet.com/mil/2017-09/16/c_129705735.htm

[9] North Korea successfully launched a second ICBM, Xinhua News Agency, 2017-7-29, http://news.xinhuanet.com/world/2017-07/29/c_1121399102.htm

[10] Zheng Jiyong: What Does the Second Plenary Meeting of the Seventh WPK Central Committee Reveal, World Affairs, Issue 21, 2017.

[11] Joel S. Wit Sun Young Ahn, North Korea’s Nuclear Futures: Technology and Strategy, 2015-2-26, http://www.38north.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/NKNF_NK-Nuclear-Futures.pdf

[12] Ellen Nakashima,Anna FifieldandJoby Warrick, North Korea could cross ICBM threshold next year, U.S. officials warn in new assessment ,  2017-7-25, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/north-korea-could-cross-icbm-threshold-next-year-us-officials-warn-in-new-assessment/2017/07/25/4107dc4a-70af-11e7-8f39-eeb7d3a2d304_story.html?utm_term=.1ac1151ca720

[13] David Albright, North Korea’s Nuclear Capabilities: A Fresh Look - with Power Point SlidesAugust 9, 2017http://isis-online.org/isis-reports/detail/north-koreas-nuclear-capabilities-a-fresh-look-power-point-slides/10

Testimony of David Albright, President of the Institute for Science and International Security, before the Monetary and Trade Subcommittee of the Committee on Financial ServicesHearing Title: “A Legislative Proposal to Impede North Korea’s Access to Finance” 2017-9-13http://isis-online.org/uploads/conferences/documents/Testimony_of_David_Albright_13_Sept2017_Final.pdf

[14] Brigid Andersen, North Korea could have nuclear missile capable of hitting US west coast within four years: former CIA officer ABC NEWS2017-4-12http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-12/will-us-north-korea-tensions-lead-to-nuclear-war3f/8437716

[15] Т.Б.Аничкина, В.И.Есин, ЯДЕРНЫЕ ВОЗМОЖНОСТИ КНДРЯДЕРНЫЕ ВОЗМОЖНОСТИ КНДР№1, 2016http://www.rusus.ru/?act=read&id=478#_edn50; Esin Viktor Ivanovich: North Korea’s Nuclear Potential, World Affairs, Issue 23, 2017.

[16]The current nuclear order evolved from two parallel nuclear non-proliferation regimes in the US and Soviet Union during the Cold War. Mainly composed of the non-proliferation regime, nuclear arms control, and nuclear disarmament, the order is established to normalize matters related to nuclear activities and nuclear weapons. Different sovereign countries had different power, status, and rights and obligations in this order. Countries which have manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear device prior to January 1st 1967 fall into the category of nuclear weapon states.  The US, Russia, the UK, France, and China meet this criterion, while the others are non-nuclear weapon states. However, the “non-nuclear weapon states” that have or had once crossed the nuclear weapon threshold are also deemed as “nuclear weapon states.” Both de facto non-nuclear weapon states and nuclear weapon states should abide by the comprehensive safety security system of NPT, and accept the supervision of IAEA on nuclear usage. See: Wang Haifan. (2015.06). The Research on International Nuclear Order and North Korean Nuclear Issue.(History PhD Thesis), Yanbian University. Li Bin. (2017). Is it possible to tacitly recognize North Korea as a nuclear weapon state? World Affairs, (21).

[17]IAEA expresses deep concern about North Korea’s nuclear programs, UN News Center, 2017-6-12

http://www.un.org/chinese/News/story.asp?NewsID=28219&Kw1=%E5%AE%89%E7%90%86%E4%BC%9A&Kw2=&Kw3=

[18]MICHAEL D. SWAINE,Time to Accept Reality and Manage a Nuclear-Armed North Korea, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2017-9-11, http://carnegieendowment.org/2017/09/11/time-to-accept-reality-and-manage-nuclear-armed-north-korea-pub-73065

[19]No nuclear weapons in South Korea, says President Moon, Xinhua News Agency, 2017-9-15,

http://news.xinhuanet.com/2017-09/15/c_1121666024.htm

[20] Assistant to the US President for National Security Affairs: Trump not let North Korea capable enough to threaten the US. China News Service, 2017-4-16,

http://www.chinanews.com/gj/2017/04-16/8200871.shtml

[21]On October 10th, Heather Nauert, spokesperson for the US Department of State, said that diplomacy is the preferred approach for the US in dealing with the North Korea nuclear issue. She also noted that though no one wants to go to war with another country, the US has military options.

See: US Secretary of State: President Trump prioritizes diplomatic efforts in solving North Korea nuclear issue. Xinhua News Agency, 2017-10-16,

http://news.xinhuanet.com/mil/2017-10/16/c_129721073.htm?from=groupmessage

[22]On October 10th, Heather Nauert, spokesperson for the US Department of State, said that diplomacy is the preferred approach of the US in dealing with the North Korea nuclear issue. She also noted that though no one wants to go to war with another country, the US has military options.

See: US Secretary of State: President Trump prioritizes diplomatic efforts in solving North Korea nuclear issue. Xinhua News Agency, 2017-10-16,

http://news.xinhuanet.com/mil/2017-10/16/c_129721073.htm?from=groupmessage

[23] See: Testimony of Susan Thornton, US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, at the Congress on July 27; Testimony of Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Army, at the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 26; Interview transcripts of Jim Mattis, US Secretary of Defense, during his visit to India on September 6; and speech of Jim Mattis delivered at 2017 AUSA Annual Meeting.

[24]美联社、《华盛顿邮报》414日相关报道;刘卿,《特朗普政府亚太政策及走向》,《国际问题研究》,2017年第4期。

See reports of Associated Press and Washington Post on April 14. Liu Qing (2017). Asia-Pacific policy and future development of the Trump administration. International Studies, 2017(4).

[25]Michael PeckOPLAN 5015: The Secret Plan for Destroying North Korea (and Start World War III?), The National Interest, 2017-5-11,

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/oplan-5015-the-secret-plan-destroying-north-korea-start-19747Michael PeckHere Is America's Battle Plan for Destroying North KoreaThe National Interest, 2017-8-29, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/here-americas-battle-plan-destroying-north-korea-22096?page=2

[26]Paul Sonne/Felicia Schwartz, U.S. pressure on North Korea’s global ties bears fruit, cn.wsj.com, 2017-10-9, http://cn.wsj.com/gb/20171009/bgh101021.asp

[27]Michael PeckOPLAN 5015: The Secret Plan for Destroying North Korea (and Start World War III?), The National Interest, 2017-5-11,

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/oplan-5015-the-secret-plan-destroying-north-korea-start-19747Michael PeckHere Is America's Battle Plan for Destroying North KoreaThe National Interest, 2017-8-29, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/here-americas-battle-plan-destroying-north-korea-22096?page=2

[28]Paul Sonne/Felicia Schwartz, U.S. pressure on North Korea’s global ties bears fruit, cn.wsj.com, 2017-10-9, http://cn.wsj.com/gb/20171009/bgh101021.asp

[29] Jeremy Diamond and Zachary Cohen, Trump: I’d be ‘Honored’ to Meet Kim Jong Un under “Right Circumstances”, CNN, May 1st, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/01/politics/donald-trump-meet-north-korea-kim-jong-un. June 25th, 2017

[30] Foreign media: Trump plans to exert “maximum pressure” on North Korea, claiming that “strategic patience” is over, Cankaoxiaoxi.com, November 7th, 2017http://www.cankaoxiaoxi.com/world/20171107/2242169.shtml

[31] Max Greenwood, “Tillerson on North Korea: Our Goal is not Regime Change” , The Hill, April 28th, 2017 http://thehill.com/policy/international/331055-tillerson-calls-for-new-un-pressure-on-north-korea

[32] Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on May 8th, 2017Official website of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 8th, 2017http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/fyrbt_673021/t1459609.shtml

[33] In fact, early in February 2017, soon after Trump took office, North Korea had attempted to have a 1.5-track dialogue and prepared for it. However, the Trump administration, not fully prepared at that time, declined Choi Sun-hee’s application for US visa.

[34] Benjamin Lee, Trump’s First 100 Days in Asia: Continuities and Discontinuities in Trump’s Asia Policy , The Diplomat, April 28th, 2017, https://thediplomat.com/2017/04/trumps-first-100-days-in-asia/

[35] The data comes from the Bank of Korea. According to the statistics released by North Korean authorities, the growth in 2015 and 2016 were a consecutive 4.5%.

[36] This is based on the releases of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) and report by Yonhap on December 21st. On December 19th, 2016, referring to the Press Communique of Successful Ending of the 200-Day Fight from June 1st to December 15th published by the WPK Central Committee on December 18th, the North Korean Central News Agency claimed that North Korea enjoyed “a rare harvest”. Under the title Work of North Korean Cabinet in 2016 and Missions in 2017, the North Korean Central News Agency reported on April 11th, 2017 that grain yield in 2016 “exceeded the highest annual level in history”.

[37] John Rogin, Trump’s North Korea policy is “maximum pressure” but not “regime change”, The Washington Post, April 14th, 2017, https;//www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2017/04/14/trumps-north-korea-policy-is-massive-pressure-but-not-regime-change/?utm_term=.1bf35bb3139e

[38] Wu Tianhao: US Policy Suggestions on the North Korean Nuclear Issue—Voice from a US Think Tank, US-China Perception Monitor, September 28th, 2017 (the original article was released by Institution of State Craft on September 20th), http://www.uscnpm.com/model_item.html?action=view&table=article&id=14217

[39] Wang Yi Introduces the Meeting between Chinese and US Presidents at Mar-a-Lago, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of People’s Republic of China, April 8th, 2017, http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/zyxw/t1452259.shtml

[40] WSJ Trump Interview Excerpts: China, North Korea, Ex-Im Bank, Obamacare, Bannon, More, the wall street journal, 2017-4-12,https://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2017/04/12/wsj-trump-interview-excerpts-china-north-korea-ex-im-bank-obamacare-bannon/

[41] Consensus Reached in Various Aspects during the China and US Presidential Meeting, and Both Sides Agreed to Make Joint Efforts for Greater Development in Bilateral Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of People’s Republic of China, November 9th, 2017, http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/zyxw/t1509111.shtml

[42]《王毅谈如何应对半岛危机:双暂停和双轨并进思路》,外交部网站,2017-3-8http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/zyxw/t1443990.shtml

Wang Yi: adopt the dual-track approach and the “suspension-for-suspension” initiative in face of Korean Peninsula crisis. Website of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2017-3-8,

http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/zyxw/t1443990.shtml

[43] Wang Yi’s Speech at the Open Ministerial Meeting of the UN Security Council on the Korean Nuclear Issue (Full Text), Xinhua News Agency, 2017-4-29,

http://news.china.com/news100/11038989/20170429/30471934.html

[44] Wang Yi: Combination of Sanction and Dialogue Is the Key to Solving Korean Peninsula Nuclear Issue, Website of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2017-9-7, http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/wjbzhd/t1490867.shtml

[45] Wang Yi Delivers Speech at General Debate of 72nd Session of UN General Assembly, Website of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2017-9-22,

http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/wjbzhd/t1495822.shtml

[46] According to Xinhua News Agency and the website of the International Liaison Department of CPC Central Committee, during Song Tao’s visit to North Korea, he met with Choe Ryong-hae, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), and vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the WPK in the afternoon of November 17th; he met with Ri Su-yong, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the WPK, and vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the WPK on November 18th, and briefed him on the 19th CPC National Congress and its main spirits. North Korea congratulated China on the success of the 19th CPC National Congress, and hoped that the Chinese people would achieve great progress in accomplishing the cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics and realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation under the correct guidance of the CPC Central Committee led by Xi Jinping. The two sides exchanged views on many issues of mutual concern such as China-North Korea relations and the Korean Peninsula issue, and expressed the will to strengthen inter-party exchanges and communication, so as to push bilateral relations forward. Additionally, Song Tao also visited places such as the Cemetery of the Fallen Fighters of the Chinese People’s Volunteers in Hoechang.

[47]South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs: South Korea opposes settle North Korea nuclear issue through suspension-for-suspension. Sputnik, 2017-8-25. http://sputniknews.cn/politics/201708251023450207/

[48] Wan Lijiu (2003). Russia’s adjustment of peninsula policies and six-party talks. Peace and Development, 2003(4). Liu Tao (2017). Russia’s peninsula policies and countermeasures against North Korea nuclear issue: history and realistic logic. World Affairs, 2017 (20)(21).

[49] Joint Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China on the Korean Peninsula Issues. Website of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2017-7-4,

http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/ziliao_674904/1179_674909/t1475362.shtml

[50] 38 North:North Korea’s Submarine Ballistic Missile Program Moves Ahead: Indications of Shipbuilding and Missile Ejection Testing, 2017-11-16, http://www.38north.org/2017/11/sinpo111617/

 


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