Mansoor focuses on N. Korea

Staff photo by Connor Cummiskey Dr. Peter Mansoor focused on North Korea Tuesday during a talk about international conflicts around the globe.

NEW ULM — Dr. Peter Mansoor focused on North Korea Tuesday during a presentation on global hotspots.

At the New Ulm Public Library, Mansoor discussed four global hotspots that he described as frozen conflicts due to the prolonged, unyielding differences of involved parties.

“We will talk about global hotspots, but I think by the end of the talk, I will have convinced you that all of these hot spots are actually frozen conflicts that are going to be with us for a long time to come,” Mansoor said.

He focused on developments in North Korea, officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), because of their pressing nature.

To start, Mansoor went all the way back to the end of World War II, when Korea was divided along the 38th parallel.

At the time, it was a division of labor between the Allies and Russia to demobilize Japanese occupying forces, but soon turned into a hard international border, Mansoor said.

The Korean Conflict officially broke out in June of 1950 with the North invading South Korea after years of skirmishes.

After the war, the peninsula was again divided, not precisely along the 38th parallel, but close.

Mansoor’s presentation then moved on to the 1990s when the Clinton administration came close to attacking North Korea.

The administration opened talks with North Korea and in 1994 signed the Agreed Framework with then-ruler Kim Jong-Il.

Under the agreement, the United States would supply North Korea with fuel, aid and light water reactors, the latter of which could not be used to develop weaponized plutonium.

In return, North Korea would take steps to implement a declaration of a denuclearized Korean peninsula and dismantle its reactors that could create fissile material strong enough for a bomb.

Soon after the agreement was signed, the Republican party took power. They refused to fund the light water reactors.

Then in 2003, when the reactors were due, the Agreed Framework broke down completely, and North Korea began fully researching nuclear weapons again.

Mansoor said that President George W. Bush’s phrase “Axis of Evil,” coined during his 2002 State of the Union Address, helped speed the breakdown.

He argued what had occurred to Saddam Hussein, another member of the axis, helped convince North Korea of the necessity of nuclear weapons.

Starting that year, after North Korea pulled out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, were six-party talks.

North Korea met with South Korea, Japan, the United States, China and Russia to hammer out a deal for denuclearization and normalizing of relations.

The talks did not get far, Mansoor said, in part because North Korea believed the United States would again not hold up its end of the bargain.

For its part, North Korea continued researching nuclear weapons during the talks, Mansoor said.

The conflict heated up in 2009 when North Korea attempted to launch a satellite. Because a space-worthy rocket could also be an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), the United Nations condemned the launch and initiated sanctions.

North Korea then left the six-party talks, ejected all nuclear inspectors and continued researching nuclear weapons.

Mansoor jumped to Kim Jong-Un’s ascent to power and the current ruler’s quick dispatch of rivals.

Then in September 2017 the country’s first successful underground test proved North Korea had a bomb at least five-fold more powerful than what the United States dropped on Hiroshima.

“This capability, by the way, has the adverse effect of making the United States feel insecure and could potentially lead to an American strike against North Korea,” Mansoor said.

After going over some of the recent development between President Donald Trump’s administration and Kim, Mansoor went on to explain the Libya model.

Essentially, Libya’s authoritarian leader Muammar Gaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons in 2003 in exchange for the U.S. promise to not enact regime change in Libya.

Then came the 2011 Arab Spring that inspired a revolt in Libya. A revolt that was backed by U.S. air power.

Gaddafi died unceremoniously after capture by the rebels. It was an end that Kim does not want, inspiring North Korea’s aggressive language after National Security Advisor John Bolton ascribed the model as the U.S. plan with North Korea.

Mansoor wrapped up his discussion about North Korea with the involved parties’ wants. North Korea wants: recognition and regime stability, peace, security and reunification on its terms.

South Korea wants peace and stable relations with the United States, though it is likely less interested in reunification due to the costs of bringing North Korea up to speed.

Connor Cummiskey can be emailed at