Canada and the perverse challenge of Northeast Asian regional security, by Paul Evans

[The following paper by CanKor Brain Trust member Paul Evans was originally presented at the “New Approach to Security in Northeast Asia: Breaking the Gridlock” workshop held on October 9th and 10th, 2012 in Washington, DC. The workshop was organized by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Dr. Evans is Professor at the Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia. –CanKor]

Paul Evans 2010 bFor a little more than a decade starting with the end of the Cold War in Europe Canada was an engaged, proactive and sometimes innovative player in multilateral security issues in Northeast Asia. It initiated the North Pacific Cooperative Security Dialogue between 1990 and 1993, a pioneering track-two process including the principal six in Northeast Asia plus Canada and Mongolia intended to lay the foundation for an inclusive regional process in a region re-framed as the North Pacific. It pursued an “engagement without illusions” approach to North Korea that included encouragement of multiple levels of academic and NGO connections and eventually led in 2001 to the establishment of diplomatic relations. The government provided financial assistance to KEDO and supported diplomats and academics in multiple track-two meetings on a multilateral and bilateral basis that focused on regional frameworks and initiatives, including on arms control, missile defense weaponization of space, and non-proliferation.

Resource constraints and a chill of relations with North Korea as the extent of its nuclear ambitions became clear tempered some of these ambitions between 2001 and 2005, though the Liberal government was inclined to support the possibility of Canada playing an active “second circle” role as needed to advance the Six Party Talks. Read the rest of this entry »

North Korean Nuclear Test: Implications for Asian Security, by Muthiah Alagappa

[Datuk Dr Muthiah Alagappa is Tun Hussein Onn Chair in International Studies at ISIS Malaysia and non-resident senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington DC. He is author-editor of Nuclear Weapons and Security in 21st Century Asia, published by Stanford University Press in 2008. The following article appeared in PacNet #10 as well as on the website of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace on Wednesday, 13 February 2013. –CanKor]

Muthia AlagappaNorth Korea carried out its third nuclear test on Feb. 13, 2013 after having successfully test-fired its long-range rocket in December 2012. Pyongyang is on its way to developing a nuclear weapon capability that can be delivered at short range and in due course over longer ranges including to the United States, China, and Russia. As expected, the international community has reacted to the test with calls for tighter sanctions and will try to induce North Korea to the long-stalled Six-Party Talks. These are unlikely to succeed.

Though paying a high price, North Korea is intent on developing a strategic nuclear deterrent against present and potential adversaries. The international community must recognize and attempt to integrate a nuclear North Korea into Asia and the world. This may be unpalatable to policymakers who have persisted with a sanction and roll back policy as well as for the bankrupt nonproliferation community. However, there is little else that the international community can do. It can bomb North Korea to oblivion but that carries risks and would serve no substantive political or strategic purpose. Read the rest of this entry »

UN Sanctions Resolution: the good news and the bad news by Marcus Noland

[The following was taken from the blog North Korea: Witness to Transformation, which is hosted by the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics, and authored by Marcus Noland and Stephan Haggard. This commentary by long-time CanKor friend Marcus Noland was posted on 23 January 2013. –CanKor]

Marcus Noland (Photo by East-West Center)

Marcus Noland (Photo by East-West Center)

More than a month after North Korea fired a missile in contravention of two existing UNSC resolutions, the Security Council passed UNSC Resolution 2087, condemning the use of ballistic missile technology in launch and saying the “act violated United Nations sanctions, expresses determination to take “significant action” in event country proceeds with further launch.”

First, the good news: The action took the form of a resolution, not a presidential statement, which passed unanimously with China’s support.

At the margin, the resolution expands existing sanctions. It recognizes that the existing regime is leaky, referring to the use of bulk cash to evade sanctions, and signals that additional measures may be needed to tighten implementation. The South Korean defense ministry has claimed that wreckage recovered from the launch revealed parts and components of Chinese and European origin. Read the rest of this entry »

North Korea as a Nuclear Power and the Prospects of Its Control, by Hans-Joachim Schmidt

[This is a paper for German readers of CanKor. The author, Dr. Hans-Joachim Schmidt, is Senior Research Fellow at the Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung (HSFK) – also known in English as Peace Research Institute Frankfurt/M (PRIF) – and an expert on the Six-Party Talks. Dr. Schmidt is a good friend of CanKor and has previously submitted his work for our benefit. We thank the author for making the full German version of this paper available to CanKor. A brief summary of his latest paper follows here in both English and German. For the full version of the German paper, please follow this link: Nordkorea als Nuklearmacht – Chancen der Kontrolle, or by clicking on the image of the title page below. – CanKor]

North Korea as a Nuclear Power and the Prospects of Its Control

In the latest HSFK-Report, Hans-Joachim Schmidt evaluates the prospects of both cooperative and confrontational approaches against the North Korean nuclear weapons program.

Since its first nuclear test in 2006, a nuclear North Korea cannot be prevented anymore. Therefore, one major aim of international politics must be to delay, constrain and control the North Korean nuclear weapons program.

In HSFK-Report 1/2012, Nordkorea als Nuklearmacht – Chancen der Kontrolle (North Korea as a Nuclear Power and the Prospects of Its Control), Hans-Joachim Schmidt presents the multifaceted regional and global threats of both conventional and nuclear armament of North Korea and analyzes how the North Korean leadership can be urged to follow its international commitments.

He examines problems and prospects of cooperative and confrontational approaches by South Korea, the US, Japan, China and Russia who seek a political arrangement with North Korea regarding nuclear technology. Against the background of their different interests, the author develops specific propositions for a relaunch of the six-party talks following the presidential elections in the USA and South Korea. Read the rest of this entry »

Ottawa Round Table Part 3 – Canada-DPRK Bilateral Relations by Hartmuth Kroll

Canada-North Korea Bilateral Relations

Ottawa Round Table on Humanitarian Aid in the Current North Korean Context, 5 March 2012


  • Crossed flag pin by Promex GmbH

    Without belabouring the point, the Asia Pacific region matters to Canada, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) has long been a destabilizing element in the region.

  • In February 2001, with the support and encouragement of its regional allies. Canada established diplomatic relations with the DPRK.
  • This initiative reflected the view that, over the long term, engagement offered the best prospects for integrating North Korea into the international community of nations.
  • Long-term goals for engagement included full denuclearization, improved governance and political reform, improved human rights and enhanced regional security. Nonetheless, there were few illusions as to what could be achieved immediately. Read the rest of this entry »

NK Blows Off Leap Day Deal With Missile Ploy, by Chris Nelson

Test firing of an Unha-2 missile (photo by KCNA)

[Chris Nelson of the Nelson Report gathered a number of reactions from North Korea experts on what seems to be an about-face by the DPRK on an agreement made 29 February 2012 for a moratorium on missile tests. What exactly happened here? There are a number of theories with disturbing implications. Has the young Kim Jong Un just made his first mistake in international relations? Is this the result of two factions in the ruling elite working at cross-purposes? Was the fledgling leader unclear that a satellite launch bears a striking resemblance to a ballistic missile test? What will this mean for US AID food assistance deal. If the food part of the Leap Day deal is scuttled as a result of the satellite launch announcement, can the US Administration continue to claim that humanitarian assistance is unrelated to strategic and military issues? These and other questions are mulled over by a group of Chris Nelson’s “loyal readers” in Friday’s Nelson Report (16 March 2012), reprinted here by permission. –CanKor]

In barely 24 hours, the situation with N. Korea has gone from skeptical but hopeful to downright furious…and deeply worried a crisis confrontation is coming soon.

The Obama Administration denounced the move as “highly provocative…in direct violation of UN Security Council Resolutions…poses a threat to regional security and would also be inconsistent with North Korea’s recent undertaking to refrain from long-range missile launches.”

The sense of crisis deepened as informed sources learned of the “back story” leading up to Pyongyang’s declaration last night it planned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of founder Kim Il Sung’s birth with a satellite launch on April 15…a missile launch in clear, explicit violation of existing UN resolutions supported by China and the other 6 Party Talks participants. Read the rest of this entry »

United Kingdom Statement on the death of Kim Jong Il

[The following Statement was issued by the UK Foreign Secretary William Hague on the death of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, on 19 December 2011. –CanKor]

The people of North Korea are in official mourning after the death of Kim Jong Il. We understand this is a difficult time for them.

This could be a turning point for North Korea. We hope that their new leadership will recognise that engagement with the international community offers the best prospect of improving the lives of ordinary North Korean people.

We encourage North Korea to work for peace and security in the region and take the steps necessary to allow the resumption of the Six Party Talks on denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”.

Kim Jong Il Dies…now what? by Chris Nelson

[The following is taken from the 19 December 2011 edition of The Nelson Report, with kind permission by the author. –CanKor.]

The body of DPRK leader Kim Jong-il lies in state at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace (Photo Reuters)

Our personal take is that uncertainty, and N. Korea, unfortunately always belong in the same sentence.

The Obama Administration must focus on two immediate problems: first, the obvious strategic risks created by the uncertainties… until it’s known if designated successor Kim Jong-on will be accepted by the power elites… the US, the ROK, Japan and China need to be ready for almost anything, so they need to be talking with each other;

Second, the Administration faces the problem of putting on hold, pending clarification of the obvious questions, what had increasingly started to look like a possible resumption of bilateral negotiations as a lead-in to possible resumption of the 6 Party nuclear talks.

It HAD been planned today to announce a massive food aid deal explicitly linked to nuclear/6PT issues, not humanitarian, so look to see if that goes ahead. The explicit strategic link to food, long overdue, is significant and bears scrutiny, if it takes place, since it heralds apparent White House acceptance of the link between weapons-related promises and benefits which it had been firmly resisting to this point, based on the DPRK’s record since the Bush Administration (Syria, HEU, nuke tests, Cheonan, etc.). Read the rest of this entry »

The Pre Re-engagement Party for the Six Party Talks gets livelier… by Jeremy Paltiel

[As US negotiator Stephen W. Bosworth begins discussions with DPRK first vice foreign minister Kim Kye-gwan in Geneva today, CanKor Brain Trust member Jeremy Paltiel, Professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, checks the Chinese media for indicators that re-engagement on the nuclear issue might actually get off the runway this time around. –CanKor.]

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang (R Front) shakes hands with Kang Sok Ju (L Front), vice premier of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), at the airport in Pyongyang, capital of DPRK, Oct. 23, 2011. Li Keqiang arrived here on Sunday for an official goodwill visit to the DPRK. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)

Li’s mission is explicitly calculated to jump-start the Six Party Talks , and for the first time, China has spoken of playing a “coordinating” xietiao role. (李克强将访问朝鲜、韩国) Li was met at Pyongyang’s airport by Vice Premier Kang Sok Ju,and the proceeded to Mansongdae where he met with Premier Choe Yong Rim, who had visited China only a month ago. (Hu Jintao Meets with DPRK Premier Choe Yong Rim, Member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee) Choe mentioned explicitly the implementation of 19 September 2005 Joint Statement, though not the 13 February 2007 Action Plan. (李克强与朝鲜内阁总理会谈 支持尽早重启六方会谈)

Other commentators have deduced that the momentum for re-engagement on the nuclear issue is gathering force (See Jeffrey Lewis, Peter Hayes and Scott Bruce “Kim Jong Il’s Nuclear Diplomacy and the US Opening: Slow Motion Six-Party Engagement”), as newly-named US negotiator Glyn Davis prepares to meet North Korean counterparts in Geneva.

China is stepping up its activity on the Korean peninsula at a time when China’s relations with neighbouring countries and the US in Southeast and East Asia have been tarnished due to China’s aggressive stance on its maritime borders, both in relation to Japan and in the South China Sea. It has recently attempted to patch up relations with Vietnam (李克强与朝鲜内阁总理会谈 支持尽早重启六方会谈) and with Southeast Asia, and will no doubt seek to enhance the reputation of its diplomacy by trying to engineer a breakthrough by re-starting the Six Party Talks. Read the rest of this entry »

US-NK Talks constructive, but… by Chris Nelson

[The following is taken from the 17 October 2011 edition of The Nelson Report, with kind permission by Chris Nelson. An update by Chris was added to the bottom on 26 October. –CanKor.]

US special envoy Stephen Bosworth in Pyongyang (Photo: Reuters 2009)

US sources confirm Special Envoy Steve Bosworth will meet with his N. Korean counterpart next week in Geneva, Oct. 24-25, as a follow-up to last week’s State Visit by S. Korean president Lee Myung-bak, and consultations with President Obama and his foreign policy advisors at the NSC and State.

No official announcement from the Administration as yet, but sources here say they’ve been privately informed of the plans for Bosworth to explore the DPRK’s readiness to resume the 6 Party talks under conditions laid down by both Washington and Seoul which, some observers predict, will be partially met….thus throwing the ball back into to the US/ROK court on whether to proceed. Read the rest of this entry »

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