Thursday, September 14, 2017

Emphasizing the Art of the Deal

North Korea doesn't need nukes. North Korea just needs everyone to pretend they have nukes.

Seriously, North Korea can't believe anyone wants to conquer that black hole of misery and poverty, can they? Isn't the cost of coping with owning that awful place the real deterrent to conquering North Korea?

If the North Koreans are rational, they know they don't need actual nuclear weapons to prevent an invasion.

If the North Koreans really just want nukes for domestic purposes, proving North Korea is a great power in the world, all North Korea needs is a deal that pretends North Korea has nuclear weapons.

The deal could include Chinese and American assistance in building and installing the "weapons" and "command and control facilities" to prove we've submitted to North Korean demands--while China takes control of all  actual nuclear facilities and nuclear material (military and civilian) in North Korea to guard against cheating (and making China responsible for cheating). The UN Security Council would formally recognizes North Korea as a nuclear power to facilitate that ruse.

Such a deal would let North Korea claim to be a nuclear power.

Remote cameras and sniffers, both fixed and roaming, would help America monitor compliance while we could justify publicly the monitors as verifying the limits on the number of North Korean nukes--just like America has with Russia, for example. That's what nuclear powers do.

We could also publicly reconfirm that no American nuclear weapons will be deployed in South Korea--our limit on nukes to match the limits on North Korea's nukes.

Heck, South Korea could pledge not to build nuclear weapons as long as the deal stood.

Nukes are expensive to maintain on top of the cost to develop and build them. Wouldn't North Korea leap to gain the benefits of having "nukes" while avoiding the expense of keeping them in working order?

Heck, when our first nuclear missiles went to see in our first submarines, the warheads didn't work and could have been rocks. Luckily the Soviets didn't know.

And honestly, who knows if Russia's nukes work today? Some surely do. But are there many? Does it matter for deterrence that we don't know as long as we believe enough exist?

Why should North Korea care if they have nukes if people think they do? I seem to recall one parade where the North Korean nuclear missile on display appeared to be fake (I think there was a dent, or something). Let's go along with this fiction!

If North Korea truly wants nuclear weapons for a domestic audience, couldn't we engineer a deal that secretly puts hollow shells of ICBMs in North Korean silos?

Isn't the art of the deal just painting a picture that looks good to the North Koreans?

UPDATE: A tour of North Korea.

The army is in rough shape. The Chinese increasingly see North Korea as a threat. And the economy is in trouble.

But we will lose the race between collapse and crossing the nuclear weapons threshold. 

Collapse of the state or regime after the regime has nukes would be a high-pucker factor moment. The collapse of the USSR gives me hope this could work out; but is that the pattern for North Korea?