Robert Carlin was speaking after PyongYang staged more missiles tests, showcasing its ability to launch missiles from submarines into the Sea of Japan. Writing on the 38 North website, he said: “The world is not going to step aside and wait while the Congress ponders the fate of the president of the United States.
“Events of greater magnitude in the long term will grind ahead thousands of miles away from the impeachment proceedings in Washington.
“In the next few months the situation in Korea, where a nuclear-armed DPRK is terrifyingly close to developing intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of carrying thermonuclear warheads, could go from very bad to much, much worse.”
Mr Carlin said after US President Donald Trump’s meeting with Kim in June 2018, there had been a chance to begin what he called a “sensible and effective approach” to North Korea, resulting in a “scaling back” of the threat and enhancing stability on the peninsula.
He added: “Over the past eight months, since the failed Hanoi Summit last February, that opening appears to have narrowed to near nothing.
“The outcome of the October 5 meeting in Stockholm suggests it may already have disappeared.
“If Pyongyang has decided it has a viable option to move to full and final development of its most fearsome weapons while the US sinks into months of savage internal political warfare, then East Asia, in fact the entire Western Pacific, will in a flash become more dangerous than it has been at any time since World War II.”
Mr Carlin said the reality was that North Korea almost certainly has an arsenal of nuclear weapons “and the means to deliver them throughout much of Northeast Asia”.
He explained: “Sanctions, even at the level of “maximum pressure,” never had a chance of pushing Pyongyang to reverse its nuclear weapons program, much less give it up.
“The North Korean economy, for reasons economists cannot grasp, has not slid precipitously downhill.
“Over the past several years, economic, and to some extent, social change – whether from top down or from the bottom up is irrelevant – has not unhinged the system but extended its life.
“The North Korean leader, much mocked by Western observers, is beginning his ninth year. International fulminating against the North’s human rights situation has gained us nothing and, what is worse, has done nothing to help the victims. Seoul has no leverage, Tokyo is inept and neither Beijing nor Moscow can bring the Pyongyang to heel.
“Today, we are out of both time and space. The North already has an arsenal estimated at…
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