North Korea ‘Willing to Talk’ Moratorium on Weapons Testing ‘If Our Demands Are Met’
by John Hayward21 Jun 20170 21 Jun, 2017
21 Jun, 2017
South Korea’s Yonhap news service reported on Wednesday that North Korea made a very tentative and conditional offer to discuss a ban on nuclear and ballistic missile testing.
The offer came rather circuitously through North Korea’s ambassador to India, and there were strings attached, but given how stridently the outlaw regime normally insists on its right to develop weapons, it may foreshadow a more significant policy shift.
Yonhap renders Ambassador Kye Chun-yong’s offer as, “If our demands is met, we can negotiate in terms of the moratorium of such as weapons testing,” and notes the conditions unsurprisingly include a halt to American military drills with South Korea, a demand North Korea makes incessantly.
Australia’s News.com notes that Kye conducted his interview on Indian television in English, quoting him directly to make the strings on North Korea’s offer clearly visible:
Under certain circumstances, we are willing to talk in terms of the freezing of nuclear testing and missile testing. For instance, if the American side completely stopped big, large-scale military exercises temporarily or permanently, then we will also temporarily stop. Let’s talk about how to solve the Korean issue peacefully.
Pyongyang temporarily slowing its illegal weapons research in exchange for a permanent and total end to American military cooperation with South Korea is not exactly a tantalizing offer. It is most likely just a setup for the next round of North Korean complaints that Seoul and Washington are responsible for instability on the peninsula because they keep practicing the invasion of North Korea.
International outrage over the murder of American hostage Otto Warmbier did not slow down North Korean state media’s stream of editorials denouncing Western policy as “aggression and plunder,” or criticizing America’s human rights record. Moreover, it is hard to see Pyongyang’s ambassador to India as a pipeline to the deep thoughts of the Kim regime’s inner circle. There are other channels Pyongyang could use if it wishes to seriously resume discussions about its nuclear and missile programs.
As Yonhap News points out, even if Pyongyang did agree to a temporary moratorium, it has very elastic notions of what “temporary” means. The last freeze deal in 2012, in which the U.S. provided 240,000 tons of food aid in exchange for a halt to missile tests and uranium enrichment, lasted about two months before North Korea broke it.
Still, North Korea’s insistence on its right to develop nuclear weapons and ICBMs is normally absolute, presented as the only defense available to the noble DPRK against Western and South Korean aggression.
Optimistic observers hope the international outrage over Warmbier’s death, and President Trump’s aggressive stance toward the Kim regime, are pressuring Kim toward offering a more serious deal. Trump’s ominous tweet on Tuesday thanking China for an effort to rein in North Korea that “has not worked out” may be weighing on a few minds in Pyongyang and/or Beijing.
There is also the possibility that North Korea is having trouble with its long-rumored sixth nuclear test and is floating talk of negotiations to squeeze some concessions from the threat of a bomb it cannot actually detonate. U.S. officials on Tuesday reported seeing signs of activity at North Korea’s nuclear test site again, the latest in a string of such observations stretching back for months, without any test detonation actually occurring.
Another factor shifting against North Korea is the growing international scrutiny of dictator Kim Jong-un’s finances. North Korea relies heavily upon illegal commerce to bring in the money needed to keep the corpulent dictator and his inner circle living in unfathomable luxury, while much of the population starves. A new MIT study crunched U.N. data to determine that North Korea spends more on luxury goods than it does on legal imports from all sources.
If North Korea’s enablers grow exasperated enough or are pressured hard enough to cut off that illegal income stream and choke off the billion-dollar flow of expensive luxuries and banned weapon components to the Pyongyang elite, it could bring some real pain to the regime for the first time. Awareness of that danger might help explain the very tentative opening to negotiations North Korea’s ambassador made in India.
“You don’t get a Nobel Prize for doing what you’re told, you get it for questioning authority.”
History has shown that more often than not, change is founded by those who are rebellious. It’s for this reason that MIT’s Media Lab is offering a $250,000 award to a group or individual who practices disobedience to bring about positive change. Joe Ito, the director of the university’s Media Lab, commented:
“You don’t change the world by doing what you’re told.”
Ito mentioned that leaders such as Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Galileo were criticized heavily during their times and were met with much resistance, but persevered so that the world might be bettered through their actions. It’s these types of individuals the Media Lab seeks to honor and award a financial package to, reports CNN.
“This idea came after a realization that there’s a widespread frustration from people trying to figure out how can we effectively harness responsible, ethical disobedience aimed at challenging our norms, rules or laws to benefit society.” the department’s website says.
Though a number of political uprisings have taken place in recent months – not limited to Standing Rock and the Women’s March, the award wasn’t conceived in response to those demonstrations. Rather, it was conjured last July.
To be eligible for the award, “The recipient must have taken a personal risk in order to affect positive change for greater society.”
“You don’t get a Nobel Prize for doing what you’re told, you get it for questioning authority,” said Ito.
The winner will be announced in July. Click here for further information.
© Nataliya Hora/ShutterstockThey’re Coming…!!!They don’t sleep, don’t need health insurance, and usually don’t embarrass themselves at the work Christmas party. Robots might make employers happy, but new research shows just what kind of impact this could have on the structure of the US economy and the shape of its future workforce.
A pair of economists from MIT and Boston University have published a report at the US National Bureau of Economic Research outlining the cost of swapping human labour for programmed machines in areas such as manufacture, agriculture, research and development, and even education.
The results aren’t exactly great for workers in those labour markets. “Robots, in particular industrial robots, are anticipated to spread rapidly in the next several decades and assume tasks previously performed by labour,” the researchers claim in their report.
The study examined the steady rise of automation in a number of labour markets between 1993 and 2007, applying a statistical model to predict the overall impact robots have on the costs of human labour.
Each additional robot was determined to reduce employment by 5.6 workers. Not only that, but for every 1,000 workers, one robot could reduce wages by between one-quarter and one-half of a percent.
Of course, automation is nothing new; swapping manpower for pulleys and levers has been a cause for concern ever since Ned Ludd had a tantrum over a pair of knitting machines in 1779, becoming the namesake for a revolution. Recent decades have seen a massive rise in the role of automated and intelligent machinery across many industries, with a four-fold increase in robots in the 14 years studied by the economists.
That still doesn’t mean we’re neck-deep in robots quite yet – there are currently just 1.75 robots for every 1,000 workers, with the number of American jobs permanently lost due to automation estimated to be no more than about 670,000, compared to a total of 145,798,000 jobs currently available in the US. But some economists predict that figure to multiply another four times by 2025 to 5.25 robots per 1,000 humans, contributing to a potential 3.4 million lost jobs.
Before you get your pitchfork sharpened (by a good old-fashioned human with a whetstone), things might not be all doom and gloom. For one thing, the figures presented here are the extreme case; the report itself is also just a single study based on a range of assumptions on past and future trends, leaving a lot of room for debate.
Taking a step back to look at the bigger picture, other economists have seen a pattern over the past century that suggests what automation takes away, it gives back in other areas.
Economist Robert Cohen at the Economic Strategy Institute was reported stating last year in Fortune that “cloud computing, Big Data, and the Internet of Things will employ millions of people in new types of jobs”.
But this might not be all that comforting to those with skills suited to labour soon to be filled by a robot, nor does it mean jobs won’t move around the globe from one economy to another.
No doubt the way money moves within and between nations will evolve as well; earlier this year Bill Gates suggested taxing robots as an alternative to banning them altogether, slowing what could be an increasingly rapid change.
Comment: Taxing Robots…and how exactly does this benefit any worker except government? The tax would be paid by companies that “employ” robots, thereby saving money by not paying salaries and benefits to workers.
Elon Musk predicts a future where a basic universal wage – kind of a guaranteed income just for being a citizen – might be important for combatting creeping automation.
It seems everybody has a thought on a future where robots will be everywhere, except the robots themselves.
Not yet, at least.