Was Kim Jong Un’s New Persona Forced by a Little Known Nuclear Threat?

by | Mar 14, 2018 |

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As much as the liberal media enjoys trashing the President for silly stuff, the big things that he has been accomplishing on the international stage hold the promise of changing the world. Liberal media take note!

Kim Capitulates! First Credits Go to Donald Trump

President Trump’s tough stand regarding North Korea’s intransigence with regard to its nuclear arms program is being credited with having had a dramatic impact on Kim Jong Un’s warmongering. Strong sanctions, war games in the neighborhood, and the threat of serious consequences should Kim’s nuclear program continue may well have been the triggers for bringing North Korea to both the Winter Olympics, to join South Korea in a unified team, and to the negotiating table with Donald Trump. No small feats.

International Pressure Finds Its Mark

But Donald Trump’s effect on Kim may only be the tip of the iceberg. Kim Jung Un is between a rock and a hard place, receiving intense and simultaneous pressure from the US and China. Trump has threatened a US nuclear response to Kim’s nuclear threat. This has been combined with the repositioning of American naval and military assets in southeast Asia, Kim is now facing a serious backlash in response to his rash threats and confrontational missile tests.
More than that, warnings from China, that they will stop funding his government, further threatens Kim, and could soon put him out of business altogether. If carried out in full, it would mean that in a very short time, Kim will run out of funds and will no longer be able to support his military. The threat of a military coup against his government will then become a serious and dangerous possibility.
Kim Jong Un is a pompous and egocentric megalomaniac. The one thing he wants more than anything is to hold on to his power. The central theme of his rule, in fact, is his own personal authority, followed by the collateral power of his nation against the rest of the world. As with his father and grandfather, he lives in a bubble of great luxury, ruling over a starving nation, 25 million impoverished people who are forced to revere him. Those who defy or even criticize him can face painful and deadly consequences. Kim loves and protects his power, and he shows it in every way he can.

What About North Korea’s Partnership with Iran?

North Korea’s long-standing nuclear alliance with Iran is a fact that few of the media analysts have been considering in their public discussion. In reality, Iran is deeply entrenched in North Korea’s nuclear program, and Kim is greatly invested in this relationship.
Any agreement to halt the nuclear program would affect Iran as well as North Korea, and would be a significant factor in any decision Kim makes as he considers a denuclearization of the joint program.

But Wait, There’s More: A New Kind of Nuclear Disaster

Another factor, one that has not received any attention at all from the media, is Kim’s perception that his own nuclear program may be in very serious trouble. The nuclear facilities, deeply embedded in the mountains at Nyŏngbyŏn and, more importantly, at Chosŏn’gŭl (also known as Mount Mant’ap), are the two most prominent sites where North Korea has been carrying out its nuclear program. (We began reporting about these facilities in January 2014. See article here)
The nuclear facilities located deep inside Chosŏn’gŭl, known as the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility, must also be considered in any serious analysis of Kim’s current motivations.
Construction on the mountain facility began in the late 20th century, using hundreds of slave laborers. The infamous and universally feared Hwasong prison camp, where senior political prisoners and their families are held, is next to the nuclear site. In the 1994 testimony of a man who served as a guard at the camp, young political prisoners were forced into hard labor in the construction of the underground nuclear construction, although they had no idea what their labor was for. It has been reported that at least 200 men have died in the depths of Chosŏn’gŭl.
Then, in October 2017, it was reported that the 7,200 foot high Chosŏn’gŭl may be suffering from ‘tired mountain syndrome’, due no doubt to the six nuclear tests that Kim’s government has carried out in test chambers deep inside the mountain. Because the mountain’s rock has been fractured and weakened by the underground nuclear tests, it has become increasingly permeable, and is now at risk of collapsing.
During the latest test on September 3, 2017, the massive mountain shifted visibly. The explosion, which Kim crowed was a hydrogen bomb, registered as a 6.3-magnitude earthquake (equivalent to 100 kilotons or seven times the power of the Hiroshima bomb). Since then, there have been three more quakes, although the region was not known for seismic activity before it became a nuclear testing site.
Scientists in China have warned that any more nuclear tests inside the mountain could cause it to collapse, and that this could release a cloud of radionuclides and radioactive contamination into the environment. The Chinese border is only 50 miles away, and in such a scenario, a wide area within its border could be contaminated by the toxic radiation.
This largely secret possibility may have at least as much to do with Kim’s dramatic change of heart as any other factor. The collapse of Chosŏn’gŭl could not only spell the end of Kim’s nuclear program, but also of his career and maybe his life, by creating a nuclear disaster far beyond his control or his ability to contain.

Motives Yet to Be Revealed

Because news does not leak from the highest levels of the Hermit Kingdom as it does in free societies, much of Western analysis of Kim’s apparent change of heart is only speculation at best. This analyst suggests that we would be wise to take Kim’s latest signs of friendliness to the West with a large grain of salt. His family has a long history of broken promises in its single-minded pursuit of nuclear power. If the meeting between Kim and Trump actually does take place, it will only be a first step. It will take a strong and determined enforcement of the denuclearization process in North Korea to ensure that Kim is serious and a new era of peace is possible.
As history continues to unfold before us, we may be witnesses to the historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and the Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un. As always in international affairs, there are many moving parts. If the prospect of an imploding toxic mountain is one of the secret reasons for Kim’s change of heart, then he may be more than ready for the meeting between the two leaders. And it is possible that such a meeting could lead us down a path where North Korea will trade its traditional aggressive stance for a peaceful alternative. If, however, Kim’s megalomania overcomes his common sense, then we are destined to be, once more, disappointed and facing yet another and even more dangerous confrontation with the Hermit Kingdom.

Ilana Freedman

Ilana Freedman is a veteran intelligence analyst with more than thirty years in the field. She was trained in Israel, where she lived and worked for sixteen years. After returning to the U.S., she served as CEO of Gerard Group International in Massachusetts, providing major corporations and government agencies with intelligence-led support for their homeland security programs. Her global network of specialists and field assets has provided her with an ongoing resource of critical, real-time intelligence and domain expertise. Today, Ilana is an independent consultant and author of hundreds of articles on terrorism and the geopolitical landscape. She has written four books on Islamic terrorism, and is currently working on a comprehensive book on China - past, present, and future.

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