Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis

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When George W. Bush took office in 2001, North Korea's nuclear program was frozen and Kim Jong Il had signaled he was ready to negotiate. Today, North Korea possesses as many as ten nuclear warheads, and possibly the means to provide nuclear material to rogue states or terrorist groups. How did this happen?

Drawing on more than two hundred interviews with key players in Washington, Seoul, Tokyo, and Beijing, including Colin Powell, John Bolton, and ex–Korean president Kim Dae-jung, as well as insights gained during fourteen trips to Pyongyang, Mike Chinoy takes readers behind the scenes of secret diplomatic meetings, disputed intelligence reports, and Washington turf battles as well as inside the mysterious world of North Korea. Meltdown provides a wealth of new material about a previously opaque series of events that eventually led the Bush administration to abandon confrontation and pursue negotiations, and explains how the diplomatic process collapsed and produced the crisis the Obama administration confronts today.

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About the author

Mike Chinoy is the Edgerton Senior Fellow on Asia at the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles. Until 2006, he was a foreign correspondent for CNN, largely in Asia, and made numerous visits to North Korea over the course of nearly two decades.

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Publisher
St. Martin's Press
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Published on
Mar 22, 2010
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Pages
432
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ISBN
9781429930239
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Asia / Korea
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This content is DRM protected.
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Throughout human history there may hardly be found any other single decision that still causes such high amounts of scholarly debate as does the dropping of Atomic Bombs upon the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 6th 1945, and respectively, three days later upon the city of Nagasaki. These events have caused close to 100 000 casualties in the civilian population, and yet, it does not include all of those persons who would later succumb to radiation sickness or severe birth deformations. Historians still debate the alleged plurality of motives underlying this momentous decision. The debate's result is a polarized scholarly discord which by now virtually abounds in a multitude of different theories, and competing suppositions. On the one hand, there are those scholars who argue that the decision rested solely on grounds of military expediency, foremost on the necessity to shorten a gruelling war, and to save the lives of American soldiers. On the other hand, historians offer the explanation that American policy makers above all wanted to exhibit their country's enormous military potency, and therefore, Hiroshima and Nagasaki should demonstrate the vast destructive potential which presently solely the United States had at its command, and so, counter post-war ambitions of the Soviet Union. The author of this study analyses the contextual circumstances in the spring and summer of 1945, and moreover, the principal motives of the key American government officials. Accordingly, the author offers his own substantive and conclusive answer to the question that concerns the primary factors and/or ostensibly ulterior motives that led American decision makers to issue the consequential order to detonate Atomic Bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. First and foremost, the findings rest upon a critical and comprehensive engagement, and are based on the available documentary evidence from this time.
This book examines North Korea’s nuclear diplomacy over a long time period from the early 1960s, setting its dangerous brinkmanship in the wider context of North Korea’s military and diplomatic campaigns to achieve its political goals. It argues that the last four decades of military adventurism demonstrates Pyongyang’s consistent, calculated use of military tools to advance strategic objectives vis à vis its adversaries. It shows how recent behavior of the North Korean government is entirely consistent with its behavior over this longer period: the North Korean government’s conduct (rather than being haphazard or reactive) is rational – in the Clausewitzian sense of being ready to use force as an extension of diplomacy by other means. The book goes on to demonstrate that North Korea’s "calculated adventurism" has come full circle: what we are seeing now is a modified repetition of earlier events – such as the Pueblo incident of 1968 and the nuclear and missile diplomacy of the 1990s. Using extensive interviews in the United States and South Korea, including those with defected North Korean government officials, alongside newly declassified first-hand material from U.S., South Korean, and former Communist-bloc archives, the book argues that whilst North Korea’s military-diplomatic campaigns have intensified, its policy objectives have become more conservative and are aimed at regime survival, normalization of relations with the United States and Japan, and obtaining economic aid.
“A meaty, fast-paced portrait of North Korean society, economy, politics and foreign policy.” -Foreign Affairs

The definitive account of North Korea, its veiled past and uncertain future, from the former Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council

In The Impossible State, seasoned international-policy expert and lauded scholar Victor Cha pulls back the curtain on this controversial and isolated country, providing the best look yet at North Korea's history, the rise of the Kim family dynasty, and the obsessive personality cult that empowers them. He illuminates the repressive regime's complex economy and culture, its appalling record of human-rights abuses, and its belligerent relationship with the United States, and analyzes the regime's major security issues—from the seemingly endless war with its southern neighbor to its frightening nuclear ambitions—all in light of the destabilizing effects of Kim Jong-il's recent death.

How this enigmatic nation-state—one that regularly violates its own citizens' inalienable rights and has suffered famine, global economic sanctions, a collapsed economy, and near total isolation from the rest of the world—has continued to survive has long been a question that preoccupies the West. Cha reveals a land of contradictions, one facing a pivotal and disquieting transition of power from tyrannical father to inexperienced son, and delves into the ideology that leads an oppressed, starving populace to cling so fiercely to its failed leadership.

With rare personal anecdotes from the author's time in Pyongyang and his tenure as an adviser in the White House, this engagingly written, authoritative, and highly accessible history offers much-needed answers to the most pressing questions about North Korea and ultimately warns of a regime that might be closer to its end than many might think—a political collapse for which America and its allies may be woefully unprepared.

North Korea's development of nuclear weapons raises fears of nuclear war on the peninsula and the specter of terrorists gaining access to weapons of mass destruction. It also represents a dangerous and disturbing breakdown in U.S. foreign policy. Failed Diplomacy: The Tragic Story of How North Korea Got the Bomb offers an insider's view of what went wrong and allowed this isolated nation—a charter member of the Axis of Evil—to develop nuclear weapons. Charles L. "Jack" Pritchard was intimately involved in developing America's North Korea policy under Presidents Clinton and Bush. Here, he offers an authoritative analysis of recent developments on the Korean peninsula and reveals how the Bush administration's mistakes damaged the prospects of controlling nuclear proliferation. Although multilateral negotiations continue, Pritchard proclaims the Six-Party Talks as a failure. His chronicle begins with the suspicions over North Korea's uranium enrichment program in 2002 that led to the demise of the Clinton-era Agreed Framework. Subsequently, Pyongyang kicked out international monitors and restarted its nuclear weapons program. Pritchard provides a first-hand account of how the Six-Party Talks were initiated and offers a play-by-play account of each round of negotiations, detailing the national interests of the key players—China, Japan, Russia, both Koreas, and the United States. The author believes the failure to prevent Kim Jong Il from "going nuclear" points to the need for a permanent security forum in Northeast Asia that would serve as a formal mechanism for dialogue in the region. Hard-hitting and insightful, Failed Diplomacy offers a stinging critique of the Bush administration's manner and policy in dealing with North Korea. More hopefully, it suggests what can be learned from missed opportunities.
The regime of Kim Jong-Il has been called "mad," "rogue," even, by the Wall Street Journal, the equivalent of an "unreformed serial killer." Yet, despite the avalanche of television and print coverage of the Pyongyang government's violation of nuclear nonproliferation agreements and existing scholarly literature on North Korean policy and security, this critical issue remains mired in political punditry and often misleading sound bites. Victor Cha and David Kang step back from the daily newspaper coverage and cable news commentary and offer a reasoned, rational, and logical debate on the nature of the North Korean regime.

Coming to the issues from different perspectives—Kang believes the threat posed by Pyongyang has been inflated and endorses a more open approach, while Cha is more skeptical and advocates harsher measures—the authors together have written an essential work of clear-eyed reflection and authoritative analysis. They refute a number of misconceptions and challenge much faulty thinking that surrounds the discussion of North Korea, particularly the idea that North Korea is an irrational nation. Cha and Kang contend that however provocative, even deplorable, the Pyongyang government's behavior may at times be, it is not incomprehensible or incoherent. Neither is it "suicidal," they argue, although crisis conditions could escalate to a degree that provokes the North Korean regime to "lash out" as the best and only policy, the unintended consequence of which are suicide and/or collapse. Further, the authors seek to fill the current scholarly and policy gap with a vision for a U.S.-South Korea alliance that is not simply premised on a North Korean threat, not simply derivative of Japan, and not eternally based on an older, "Korean War generation" of supporters.

This book uncovers the inherent logic of the politics of the Korean peninsula, presenting an indispensable context for a new policy of engagement. In an intelligent and trenchant debate, the authors look at the implications of a nuclear North Korea for East Asia and U.S. homeland security, rigorously assessing historical and current U.S. policy, and provide a workable framework for constructive policy that should be followed by the United States, Japan, and South Korea if engagement fails to stop North Korean nuclear proliferation.

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