S. Korea , N. Korea to hold military talks

January 20th, 2011

South Korea announced that they have agreed to hold military talks with North Korea. International Relations professors Michael Corgan and William Keylor offer their perspectives.

corganMichael Corgan (contact 617-353-3553, mcorgan@bu.edu)

“There are a couple of things to keep in mind.

“First, much of what goes on in the North has to do with the pending succession crisis.

“Next, the South is trying very hard to assert itself, even against Japan, as a major actor in the region in the face of China’s growing prominence. This is one way to do it.

“Finally, a speculation: The North must be aware of how the U.S. and Israel teamed up to retard Iran’s nuclear weapons development. How are they fixed to handle such a cyber assault now? One surely must be in the works.”

KeylorWilliam Keylor (contact 617-358-0197, wrkeylor@bu.edu)

“Since the early 1990s, North Korea used the threat of developing a nuclear capability to extract economic benefits from South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. This strategy of nuclear blackmail was actually quite successful for many years. Now, after suffering two attacks last year, South Korea is again willing to engage in negotiations.

“Based on previous experience, Pyongyang will demand extensive economic assistance, primarily heating oil but several other items as well. If it receives it, North Korea will lie low for a while and, when the economic situation continues to deteriorate, it will renew its belligerency in order to pressure its foreign suppliers to give more.

“If this nuclear blackmail fails to secure the needed aid, then it will up the ante, perhaps by testing another longer-range missile, or by conducting another nuclear test. This is a desparate government facing a looming succession crisis as well as economic conditions that would lead to a popular upheaval in practically every other country in the world.”

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