Is the U.S. Preparing for Preventive War? Here’s What North Korea Really Thinks.

Alexander Vorontsov

Security,

Our counterparts emphasized that “our soldiers have long been sleeping without removing their boots.”

Is the U.S. Preparing for Preventive War? Here’s What North Korea Really Thinks.

In mid-November 2017, I spent several days in Pyongyang talking to DPRK foreign ministry officials about the prospects of war between North Korea and the United States. These were sobering discussions. All of my interlocutors made it clear that while North Korea does not want war, it will not hide from it either. These officials feared that the US was already trying to shape the battlefield for a military operation against the North, and that South Koreans do not seem to have grasped the reality that the Trump administration is set on a course for preventive war. However, Pyongyang is extremely serious about this scenario and is not bluffing when it says that “only one question remains: when will war break out?” In this respect, our counterparts emphasized that “our soldiers have long been sleeping without removing their boots.”

To Freeze or Not to Freeze?

During my visit, I heard nothing to suggest that North Korea is prepared, at this time, to be the first to accept the Russian and Chinese proposal for a freeze on its missile and nuclear tests in return for American agreement to freeze its joint military exercises with South Korea. The North Koreans insisted their sovereignty be respected and rejected any preconditions.

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(This first appeared in 38 North here.)

Although my North Korean interlocutors acknowledged that the Korean Peninsula was sliding toward war, they reaffirmed the country’s commitment to achieving nuclear parity with the United States. Moreover, according to experts from the DPRK Foreign Ministry’s Institute for Disarmament and Peace, the United States is not just…

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