Expert on North Korea says Pyongyang is afraid of losing China to West

According to an expert on North Korea who teaches at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, North Korea and the U.S. are not close to declaring a war on each other. According to her, neither of the sides would benefit from a military conflict.

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As the tensions between the U.S. and North Korea continue to increase and the number military drills and tests indicates that a storm is coming, Channel 2 News interviewed Dr. Joan Ri, an expert on North Korea who teaches at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. According to Ri, a large part of the current situation is a result of U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies.

Ri explained that this is not the first time there have been serious tensions between the two countries. “North Korea developed an atomic bomb in order to get recognition and the attention of the United States,” said Ri. “The purpose of developing a non-conventional weapon was to make the United States speak with the country.”

Ri said that in the 1990s, Washington and Pyongyang signed an agreement that stated that North Korea would stop its nuclear program, which the country had been working on since the 1970s, in exchange for economic benefits. However, Pyongyang violated the conditions of the agreement and continued its tests.

North Korea Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

“The current crisis is the result of two main factors,” she said. “First, the placement of the missile defense system in South Korea, which has frightened the northern neighbor, and the second is the change in the American attitude toward China.”

Ri said that the relatively good Chinese-American relationship has North Korea worried that its relationship with China is in danger, prompting Pyongyang to threaten the West. “Everyone thinks that China can control North Korea,” Ri explained. “The truth is that [China] can’t really control [North Korea] but they have a lot of influence.”

“In Japan, people are quite hysterical about the situation,” she added. “They are preparing emergency plans to evacuate the population…They are afraid that the U.S. will decide not to keep its promise to protect them. In South Korea, for instance, people aren’t really afraid because they are quite used to this situation. They are much more concerned about the local elections.”

Ri believes that the region is not headed toward a war. “I think that neither party will benefit from a military conflict at the moment,” she explained. “All the sides want to end the tensions through diplomacy and not with the help of military maneuvers.”

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