The recent US-South Korean maneuvers and the reaction to them by Pyongyang have been relatively restrained. Despite this, it should not be forgotten that recent changes in discussions about the North Korean problem may be a sign of great threat, says analyst Vasili Kashin in an interview with Sputnik.
According to the interviewee, the political process in the resolution of the North Korean problem has stagnated. North Korea's goal was to force the United States to accept direct negotiations with Pyongyang and reach a compromise that would restrict the development of North Korean nuclear forces, security assurances and mitigation of the sanctions regime, he said.
However, it is unlikely that the current US administration will accept direct dialogue with North Korea, Kashin added.
"After Washington has put so many resources into translating an image of North Korea as a poor and underdeveloped country that is ruled by insane, negotiations with Pyongyang on anything but its nuclear disarmament can be perceived in the world and also in the US as a huge defeat, "he said.
According to recent statements by CIA director Michael Pompeo, Pyongyang may come up with vector systems that would enable an attack on the mainland of the United States over the next few months.
Kashin predicted that North Korea will possibly be able to survive the sanctions regime during that time without suffering considerable damage to its economy. The country has officially declared that it would be willing to hold negotiations with the United States after it finalizes the construction of its intercontinental missile.
"In this situation, which seems like a dead end, the United States is plotting rare plans. Before, the 'madness' and 'lack of common sense' in North Korea were the main arguments against the possibility that the country. The most popular position today is the assertion that the North Korean regime is actually rational and even cynical, "Kashin said.
The United States believes that a limited attack against North Korea, which would slow its nuclear program for several years, would not provoke a response that threatened South Korea or Japan. Washington believes that Kim Jong-un understands that, should he destroy Seoul, he will be a dead man. And obviously, Kim wants to live, explains Kashin.
"However, this approach seems very simplified." First, you can't be sure that North Korea's missile program can be slowed down by a limited attack. The North Koreans use underground spaces to hide their facilities, equipment and secret reserves, the expert said.
These constructions cannot be destroyed with non-nuclear weapons. At least they require use of antibunker pumps. To be able to use them effectively, US strategic bombers should penetrate deep into North Korea's airspace. This, for its part, would require a suppression of North Korean air defense in those areas.
The interviewee indicated that the number of underground targets that should be annihilated in the framework of this 'limited attack' will be very large because intelligence data are unlikely to be accurate and exhaustive.
"Even in the event of a fruitful outcome of such an attack, the problem of a possible response from North Korea appears ... Kim's reasoning is based on another perception of the world and North Korean politics in recent years is the best test of it, "Kashin said.
Kim Jong-un does not seem to understand the essence of US domestic politics. From the point of view of the leader of the Juche country, an American attack can jeopardize the internal stability of his regime, says the expert.
"It is not true that the North Korean Head of State thinks that the start of a large-scale war on the peninsula is suicide. A quick defeat of the DPRK and its Iraq-style occupation of 2003 is downright unlikely except for one scenario in which the North Korean Army is almost completely demoralized, "Kashin concluded.