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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 21-Nov-2017
21-Nov-17 World View -- China's envoy to North Korea fails to end nuclear crisis

Web Log - November, 2017

21-Nov-17 World View -- China's envoy to North Korea fails to end nuclear crisis

Speculation grows of North Korea's Kim Jong-un illness as his weight soars

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Speculation grows of North Korea's Kim Jong-un illness as his weight soars

The gargantuan Kim Jong-un inspects a tractor factory last week (AFP)
The gargantuan Kim Jong-un inspects a tractor factory last week (AFP)

A year ago, reports indicated that concerns were growing among North Korea officials about the health of child dictator Kim Jong-un, who had been gaining weight rapidly from consuming high-quality cheeses, Big Macs, vodka, steak, and sushi, and who had been apparently drinking heavily and smoking heavily, with the result that he was suffering from gout, diabetes, high blood pressure, high uric acid, and high cholesterol. Earlier this year, state media showed him limping.

Now the speculation about his health has been growing again. Recent pictures show he has ballooned in weight again and appeared to be struggling. On a cosmetic factory visit, he was uneasy on his feet and needed a folding chair, while on another trip to a shoe factory his face was dripping in sweat.

The child dictator has also been quiet for two months in provocative actions. The last ballistic missile launch was on 15 September, while the last nuclear test was on 3 September. Some analysts are attributing this long pause to American president Donald Trump's threat to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea, and later adding that the military options are "locked and loaded," later referring to Kim as "Rocket Man."

But other analysts speculate that this delay in nuclear and ballistic missile testing is another sign that he is unwell. Either way, nobody seriously believes that North Korea has ended its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile testing, and new tests can occur at any time. News Corp Australia and Deccan Chronicle (India) and Daily Star (London)

Related: N. Korean officials reportedly alarmed at Kim Jong-un's drinking and massive weight gain (04-Aug-2016)

China's envoy to North Korea fails to end nuclear crisis

A special envoy sent personally by China's president Xi Jinping to North Korea has returned to China amid signs that he apparently failed in his mission.

The envoy, Song Tao, met with several North Korean party officials. But as a special envoy sent personally by Xi Jinping, Song Tao should also have had at least a brief meeting with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, but several sources confirm that no meeting took place, something that is being interpreted as a snub directed at Xi Jinping himself.

Even more important, there is no sign that any agreement was reached on the nuclear crisis, which many international observers had been hoping. When the envoy was first announced, even Donald Trump tweeted that it was a big move, and "we'll see what happens."

Well, there was no sign of a breakthrough on the nuclear crisis, and the snub that Kim delivered to the envoy suggests that whatever proposal Song Tao brought with him from Kim Jong-un was not only rejected, but was rejected in as offensive a way as possible.

Actually, proposal that China most likely advanced has already rejected by the US, referring to it as "insulting." At the United Nations in September, China stated its "freeze for freeze" proposal:

"The situation on the peninsula is deteriorating constantly as we speak, falling into a vicious circle. The peninsula issue must be resolved peacefully. ...

The proposal by China and Russia of a two-track approach, which promotes the denuclearization of the peninsula, and the establishment of a peace mechanism in parallel the suspension initiative which calls for the DPRK to suspend its nuclear missile activities and for the United States and the Republic of Korea to suspend their large scale military exercises and the step by step conception from Russia are the basis on which both countries currently propose a roadmap to resolve the peninsula issue."

Under this proposal, the United States and South Korea would end their annual joint military exercises, while North Korea would supposedly freeze its nuclear weapons development. This freeze for freeze proposal is something of a joke, since the West has made numerous concessions in the past in return for a North Korean promise to end nuclear weapons development, but they simply go underground with development, and later repudiate their promise whenever they want.

At the same United Nations Security Council meeting, US ambassador Nikki Haley responded to the proposal statement by calling it "insulting":

"The idea that some have suggested the so-called "freeze for freeze" is insulting. When a rogue regime has a nuclear weapon, and an ICBM is pointed at you, you do not take steps to lower your guard. no one would do that, and we certainly won't."

So, we don't know whether the same "freeze for freeze" concept was proposed by Song Tao to the North Koreans, but many believe that it was, and that it was rejected as firmly and offensively as possible. Xinhua and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Nikkei and The Diplomat

Trump declares North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism

President Donald Trump has announced that the US will designate North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, referring to it as a "murderous regime."

Iran, Sudan and Syria are currently the only countries on the list. North Korea used to be on the list, but it was removed by President George Bush in 2008 in the hope that it would convince the North Koreans to end their development nuclear weapons.

However, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged, there are already so many international sanctions on North Korea that designating it as a state sponsor of terrorism will have little effect except symbolically. AP and Daily Mail (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Nov-17 World View -- China's envoy to North Korea fails to end nuclear crisis thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Nov-2017) Permanent Link
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