Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 23:02 | SYDNEY
Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 23:02 | SYDNEY

North Korea: Preparing for collapse


Sam Roggeveen


19 May 2010 10:01

For those readers who wonder what ever happened to 'The Diplomat', a foreign policy-focused print magazine once published in Sydney, it's now an online-only title based in Tokyo.

There's a good piece up on their site about the possible collapse of North Korea, which makes the point that, in family-run regimes, the success rate for the transfer of power to a third generation is very low. So with Kim Jong Il apparently quite unwell and perhaps looking to hand over to his son, there is an urgent need to prepare for regime collapse.

But apparently, that's not happening: 'What is most worrying about a possible North Korean collapse is that the key players in the region are not talking to each other, even informally, about such an eventuality.'

There are whispers that the US and China have in fact discussed this issue informally. But no one outside the system can really know. It's a sensitive topic and both sides would want to maintain deniability. You do wonder, though, how far North Korea needs to deteriorate before any such joint planning becomes so urgent and so expansive that it's impossible to hide.

As to the likelihood of collapse, it may be about to go up a notch. Many analysts argue that the only real external leverage on the regime is financial sanctions, as illustrated by the Banco Delta Asia episode (which forced Pyongyang to accept negotiations and make [temporary] compromises).

Yesterday's Nelson Report claims that in the wake of the Cheonan sinking, the US is very close to re-designating North Korea as a terrorist sponsor. And as the Nelson Report says:

Terrorist list designation opens the door to potentially wide-ranging sanctions analagous to those imposed by Treasury in the (Banco Delta Asia) case, during the Bush Administration.

Photo by Flickr user Cedric Favero, used under a Creative Commons license.