Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

​15 assumptions about the behavior of North Korea’s Kim Family Regime (KFR)

he KFR will not give up its nuclear and missile programs.

This picture taken on September 3, 2017 and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 4, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un attending a meeting with a committee of the Workers' Party of Korea about the test of a hydrogen bomb, at an unknown location.
North Korea said it detonated a hydrogen bomb designed for a long-range missile on September 3 and called its sixth and most powerful nuclear test a "perfect success", sparking world condemnation and promises of tougher US sanctions. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT   ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP.  /         (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on September 3, 2017 and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 4, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un attending a meeting with a committee of the Workers' Party of Korea about the test of a hydrogen bomb, at an unknown location. North Korea said it detonated a hydrogen bomb designed for a long-range missile on September 3 and called its sixth and most powerful nuclear test a "perfect success", sparking world condemnation and promises of tougher US sanctions. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on September 3, 2017 and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 4, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un attending a meeting with a committee of the Workers' Party of Korea about the test of a hydrogen bomb, at an unknown location. North Korea said it detonated a hydrogen bomb designed for a long-range missile on September 3 and called its sixth and most powerful nuclear test a "perfect success", sparking world condemnation and promises of tougher US sanctions. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

By David Maxwell
Best Defense guest columnist

The KFR will not give up its nuclear and missile programs.
China and Russia will not solve the Korean Question or force the KFR to give up its nuclear and missile programs.
China and Russia will exploit KFR threats to undermine U.S. credibility and split the ROK/U.S. alliance.
A preemptive strike will not be able to eliminate the KFR nuclear and missile threats.
A preemptive strike will result in a catastrophic response from the north.
Survival of the KFR remains the vital national interest to the north, thus it can be deterred from catastrophic attack.
The regime will not trust any security guarantee by the United States and will not waver from the belief that the United States seeks the end of the KFR.
Sanctions do not help the problem without enforcement by China and the international community.
KFR global illicit activities provide hard currency to support the regime and nuclear and missile programs
The north will only submit to unification if the KFR remains in power.
The north is prepared to achieve unification by coercion of the ROK or force.
The most important deterrent to resuming hostilities by north Korea is to sustain the illusion that the Kim family regime will continue to survive.
Policy of the Trump and Moon administrations are mostly in accord re: NK and should remain constant — both agree to (1) pursue denuclearization of North Korea in a peaceful manner — i.e., without seeking 'regime change'; (2) to the use of sanctions/pressure as diplomatic tools; (3) and to supporting South Korea's lead role in re-opening interKorean dialogue
Emboldened by the above, President Moon Jae-in will doggedly pursue the policy tenets and principles that support his new Berlin Doctrine.
The only way we are going to see an end to the nuclear program and threats and to the crimes against humanity being committed against the Korean people living in the north by the mafia-like crime family cult known as the Kim family regime is through achievement of unification and the establishment of a United Republic of Korea that is secure and stable, nonnuclear, economically vibrant, and unified under a liberal constitutional form of government determined by the Korean people.

David S. Maxwell is the associate director of the Center for Security Studies and Security Studies Program in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.  He is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel with five tours in Korea. 

By David Maxwell
Best Defense guest columnist

  1. The KFR will not give up its nuclear and missile programs.
  2. China and Russia will not solve the Korean Question or force the KFR to give up its nuclear and missile programs.
  3. China and Russia will exploit KFR threats to undermine U.S. credibility and split the ROK/U.S. alliance.
  4. A preemptive strike will not be able to eliminate the KFR nuclear and missile threats.
  5. A preemptive strike will result in a catastrophic response from the north.
  6. Survival of the KFR remains the vital national interest to the north, thus it can be deterred from catastrophic attack.
  7. The regime will not trust any security guarantee by the United States and will not waver from the belief that the United States seeks the end of the KFR.
  8. Sanctions do not help the problem without enforcement by China and the international community.
  9. KFR global illicit activities provide hard currency to support the regime and nuclear and missile programs
  10. The north will only submit to unification if the KFR remains in power.
  11. The north is prepared to achieve unification by coercion of the ROK or force.
  12. The most important deterrent to resuming hostilities by north Korea is to sustain the illusion that the Kim family regime will continue to survive.
  13. Policy of the Trump and Moon administrations are mostly in accord re: NK and should remain constant — both agree to (1) pursue denuclearization of North Korea in a peaceful manner — i.e., without seeking ‘regime change’; (2) to the use of sanctions/pressure as diplomatic tools; (3) and to supporting South Korea’s lead role in re-opening interKorean dialogue
  14. Emboldened by the above, President Moon Jae-in will doggedly pursue the policy tenets and principles that support his new Berlin Doctrine.
  15. The only way we are going to see an end to the nuclear program and threats and to the crimes against humanity being committed against the Korean people living in the north by the mafia-like crime family cult known as the Kim family regime is through achievement of unification and the establishment of a United Republic of Korea that is secure and stable, nonnuclear, economically vibrant, and unified under a liberal constitutional form of government determined by the Korean people.

David S. Maxwell is the associate director of the Center for Security Studies and Security Studies Program in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.  He is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel with five tours in Korea. 

Photo credit: KCNA/AFP/Getty Images

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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