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`NK leader could snub top aide in deciding on nuke test`

`NK leader could snub top aide in deciding on nuke test`

Posted February. 04, 2013 05:59,   


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could snub Jang Song Thaek, who is considered the country`s No. 2 man, in the decision to conduct a nuclear test to give Jang “plausible deniability” to placate China, a North Korea expert in the U.S. said.

Dr. Alexander Mansourov, a Visiting Scholar at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins SAIS, said this in an article contributed to 38 North, a website operated by the school.“It is noteworthy that as the perceived ‘China man in Pyongyang,’ Jang Song Thaek may be deliberately staying out of Kim Jong Un’s decisions on such a controversial issue as nuclear testing, which is objected to by China, in order to preserve ‘clean hands’ and his good standing in Beijing. It gives Jang “plausible deniability” to placate Beijing.”Jang is Kim`s uncle and vice chairman of the North`s powerful Central Military Commission.

The claim draws attention to the role Jang played in the latest meeting of the Central Military Commission of the Stalinist country`s ruling Workers’ Party as one of the panel’s 16 members, and how the North will propagandize or conceal his role.

Considering that Kim is using the strategy of his two predecessors of alternating between dialogue and provocation in dealing with Washington, the researcher said the North Korean leader will likely seek dialogue with the U.S. after conducting a nuclear test and visiting China in the second half of this year.

Mansourov said Kim’s diplomatic style is unpredictable because he is “very competitive” and more “tenacious and even obdurate” than his father.“ The United States and its allies must decide now how to approach a stronger, more confident and aggressive North Korea in the future —- either to accept the North the way it is, eventually normalize bilateral relations, and initiate some sort of strategic arms control process to cap its strategic capabilities, or to demonstrate to Kim Jong Un that he is biting more than he can chew and impress North Korea,” he said.

Also in Washington, Victor Cha, a senior researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations in an interview that if the nuclear test “happens before the inauguration (of South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye), it might give the incoming government a little bit more room politically, because everybody could see it as being in response -- a sort of a farewell kiss -- to the departing Lee Myung-bak administration. On the other hand, if they conduct the test after the inauguration of the new government, then that leaves Park Geun-hye very little room to improve relations.”