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PYONGYANGS SELF-CONFIDENCE IS INCREASING interview with Markku Heiskanen
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PYONGYANGS SELF-CONFIDENCE IS INCREASING interview with Markku Heiskanen

PYONGYANGS SELF-CONFIDENCE IS INCREASING interview with Markku Heiskanen

“PYONGYANG’S SELF-CONFIDENCE IS INCREASING”

Interview with Markku Heiskanen

Senior Associate

The Asia Institute in Finland’s leading journal

“Suomen Kuvalehti”

March 15, 2013.

 

“Sanctions lead nowhere,” says North Korea expert Markku Heiskanen

By Susan Heikkinen

Suomen Kuvalehti

“North Korea abrogated the Armistice Agreement of 1953 with South Korea this time. How serious is this crisis?”

Markku Heiskanen

“The rhetoric North Korea is using is in line with what we have seen already for years and decades. This crisis is not terribly serious at the moment, but there is a difference of degree compared with previous ones. The further North Korea’s nuclear and rocket programs advance, the more self-confidence it will have and the more it will flex its muscles.”

Such a strongly aggressive reaction was surprising given current situation. But with a new president in South Korea and with start of the second term of the Obama administration we could see opening new prospects for negotiations.”

Suomen Kuvalehti

“North Korea also hinted to a preventive nuclear strike. How would be able to distinguish real threats from bluffing?”

Markku Heiskanen

 “We should not underestimate North Korean rhetoric. At the same time the real resources available to the North Korean government are quite limited. Its trump cards are the nuclear program, its large conventional army and this so-called ‘defiance’ towards the United States.”

Suomen Kuvalehti

“It seems as if this time around even South Korea lost its temper for a moment.”

Markku Heiskanen

“The South Korean government remarked that if North Korea attacks with nuclear weapons, Kim Jong-Eun’s administration will ‘disappear from the face of the earth.’ But the possibility that a nuclear war might break out by accident on the Korean peninsula, is not covered by this statement. South Koreans are accustomed to this sort of Pokies tough language, and we should understand such statements in that specific context.”

Suomen Kuvalehti

“What are they thinking in the North?”

Markku Heiskanen

“They have galvanized the population and they know that they can get along without sugar, but they think they cannot survive without bullets. In other words, there really is nothing that can be achieved by sanctions. The North Korean government believes that the only means to maintain its sovereignty is to muster a strong army.”

Suomen Kuvalehti

“North Korea wants the peaceful reunification of Korea, does it not? Why this military defiance?”

Markku Heiskanen

 “As long as there are US troops in South Korea, North Korea will consider South Korea to be occupied by the US.”

Suomen Kuvalehti

“What would it take for North and South Korea be unified?”

Markku Heiskanen

“It seems that the reunification of the Korean Peninsula in the German style is still some twenty years in the future—in light of current conditions. Some sort of a federation could also be developed over time.

“Like China in the 1970s and 1980s, it is obvious that North Korea also will have to open up out of necessity. The more North Korea can be drawn into the global economy, the more rapidly it can make the transition. The key is how we can formally end the Korean War with a peace treaty.”

Suomen Kuvalehti

“You have participated for 15 years in an international project advocating a nuclear-free Korean peninsula. Have you seen any developments happening that are not reflected in newspaper headlines that suggest there are prospects for real peace?”

Markku Heiskanen

“Yes. Even high-ranking US politicians and experts continue to visit North Korea, and North Korean delegations increasingly visit the US. The communication channel remains open.”

Original Text