News / Asia

Analysts: North Korea Shelling, Nuclear Revelations Linked to Succession, Talks

South Koreans take a moment of silence for South Korean marines killed in a North Korean bombardment of a South Korean island, 23 Nov 2010
South Koreans take a moment of silence for South Korean marines killed in a North Korean bombardment of a South Korean island, 23 Nov 2010

Asia analysts say North Korea's recent revelations of new nuclear capabilities and its shelling Tuesday of a South Korean island are part of an effort to press the international community to give into concessions in talks on its nuclear program. They also say the developments are connected to the succession of Kim Jong Un - son of North Korea's ailing leader Kim Jong Il.

North Korea has once again thrust itself into the international spotlight. In less than a week, it has revealed to the world a new nuclear facility that stunned scientists by how advanced it was and rained down a barrage of artillery on a South Korean border island - killing troops and wounding civilians.

Abe Denmark, director of the Asia program at the Center for a New American Security believes the events are connected. He said they are related both to the recently begun succession of Kim Jong Un, as well as to what he calls North Korea's efforts to blackmail the international community into accepting it as a nuclear weapons state.

"This is part of a very concerted effort on behalf of North Korea to demonstrate resolve, to demonstrate strength, but also to try to pressure the international community into coming back to talks and giving into concessions," said Denmark.

Kim Jong Un, who is about 27, was recently appointed as a four-star general, despite having no military experience.

Kim Jong Il assumed power when his father, Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea, died in 1994. However, he had two decades prior to that to develop his political skills and public reputation.

Experts say there are concerns about Kim Jong Un - his age and ability to rule. Denmark says North Korea's behavior could be aimed at putting aside those concerns and getting factions within the country's leadership to rally around the young Kim.

"There is some concern about the rashness of youth," said Denmark. "There is also concern, and it is not unique to North Korea, that during times of leadership transition in authoritarian regimes - aggressive use of military foreign policy can be a way of unifying disparate factions within the leadership elite to rally to the cause."

Victor Cha, a former director of Asian Affairs at the White House during the Bush administration said one reason why the North has revealed so much information about its new nuclear facility is to bolster support for Kim Jung Un.

"[It is] all part of this broader narrative of establishing a new and strong state under this young leader, and a big, very important part of this is that about the only thing that Kim Jong Il has contributed to North Korea since he has been in power since 1994 is turning them into a nuclear weapons state," said Cha.

Nothing is certain, however, about the North Korean succession.

"We don't know what role Kim Jong Un is playing, but I think Kim Jong Il is still firmly in charge, and the provocations at the beginning of last year, as well as this year, are very reminiscent of North Korean negotiating behavior," said Bruce Klingner, a former chief of the CIA's Korea Branch, who is now a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

North Korea broke off negotiations on ending its nuclear weapons program last year and carried out its second nuclear test shortly after that.  

Klingner said one thing the succession is doing is making the continued stability of North Korea's regime more uncertain.

"Most experts, I think, agree that the single biggest factor for a successful succession is the continued life and viability of Kim Jong Il," he said. "The longer he lives, the more likely Kim Jong Un will build a sufficient support to maintain his seat in power."

He adds that if Kim Jong Il were to die tomorrow, there would be greater uncertainty about whether the rest of the leadership would support Kim Jong Un.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid