by WorldTribune Staff, February 15, 2018
Kim Jong-Un has put on a charm offensive at the Winter Games while extracting money from South Korea under the guise of reunification, the leader of U.S. Pacific Command said.
But the North Korean leader’s goal goes beyond preventing regime change, he said. Rather, he is focused on the ultimate goal of a “single, communist system” on the Korean Peninsula
Adm. Harry Harris told the House Armed Services Committee on Feb. 14 that he does not agree with the prevailing view that Kim is building a nuclear arsenal to safeguard his regime only.
The North Korean leader seeks “reunification under a single, communist system,” that is the “long view,” Harris said.
Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear ambitions contribute to that view and help him blackmail countries such as South Korea and the U.S., Harris said.
Sending his younger sister, Kim Yo-Jong, to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, is “clearly a charm offensive,” by Kim Jong-Un, Harris said.
“I think it behooves us and our Korean allies not to be charmed and consider North Korea for the regime it is and to deal with it on the basis of fact and not charm,” Harris said, adding he believes Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, is “ideally positioned to do that and that he views this charm offensive through clear eyes.”
Harris said the Trump administration should maintain its campaign of “maximum pressure,” including additional economic and diplomatic sanctions, to persuade Kim to abandon his nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
Meanwhile, the U.S. should bolster its missile defense systems, Harris said.
“Given where we think the North Korean capability might be in terms of their missiles in three or four years or in the early 2020s, I think we must continue to improve our missile defenses,” Harris told the committee.
Harris said that could be accomplished with the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in Guam, and the possible placement of a defensive radar system and ground-based interceptors in Hawaii.
“While some might dispute both the reliability and quantity of the North’s strategic weapons, it is indisputable that (Kim) is rapidly closing the gap between rhetoric and capability,” Harris said. While South Korea and Japan have lived with the North Korean threat for years, “now the shadow looms over the American homeland.”
Meanwhile, a North Korean defector said Kim Jong-Un is undertaking a charm offensive in the South because he fears the United States will launch a preventative strike on the North.
“Kim Jong-Un is afraid that the U.S. will launch a preventative strike, and he is trying to buy time to complete his nuclear and missile programs,” Ri Jong-Ho, who defected from the North in 2014 and currently resides in the U.S., said at a Feb. 14 forum at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.
Ri, a former ruling party official who worked for three decades in Office 39 of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said “Kim Jong-Un is struggling under the strongest-yet sanctions and military and diplomatic pressure, so he is trying to improve the situation by putting on a false front.”