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

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid