(NationalSentinel) North Korea: The North Koreans put on what many considered a very impressive display of military might during last weekend’s massive parade in celebration of Kim Il-Sung, the country’s founder and current leader Kim Jong-un’s grandfather.
But how is that possible, considering that North Korea is supposedly destitute and poor? How can a country with no economy and little to offer the world in terms of trade continue to fund weapons development and production?
Because, according to Dr. Leonid Petrov, a visiting fellow at the Australian National University College of Asia and the Pacific, Pyongyang’s economic prospects are much better than many people know. That, and the Chinese are not likely to do much to cause the regime to implode – because of its long-term friendly relations with North Korea and also because China doesn’t want a flood of refugees into its country or a U.S.-allied government on its border.
As reported by Australia’s News.au, North Korea has large stockpiles of natural resources that it’s using to fund its weapons development.
“North Korea is a mountainous country that has huge natural resources including deposits of high quality coal, gold, silver, uranium, iron ore and rare earth metals,” Petrov said, noting that Pyongyang exported its minerals to allies in China and the former Soviet Union for decades.
Since then, he said, the North has been more active in international trade, though sanctions have harmed Pyongyang to a large extent.
Dr. Petrov said China in particular had maintained trade in North Korea and was keen to keep a monopoly on its rare earth metal trade.
“So China buys everything North Korea is prepared to offer (of its rare earth metals),” he said.
These metals are important because they are used the production of many 21st century products like mobile phones, computers, LCD screens and cars.
In fact there were no visa requirements between North Korea and Malaysia until early this year, when tens of thousands of North Korean workers were deported following the assassination of North Korean president Kim Jong-un’s older brother Kim Jong-nam.
“Tens of thousands of North Koreans are sent overseas to work in restaurants, construction sites, as vegetable growers and builders of monuments in places like Africa,” Dr Petrov said.
“Dictatorships like big projects and North Korea can offer them labour to build big monuments, highways and airports.”
Dr Petrov said the “lion’s share” of the worker’s wages went to the North Korean government.
Also, he noted the Egyptian government has invested in upgrading North Korea’s telecommunication industry, concrete production and construction, “while the Chinese are keen on fishery resources, the mining industry and have developed a network of supermarkets selling Chinese-made consumerables,” News.au reported.
China has also been providing the North with oil and gasoline, at reduced prices “or even for free,” Petrov said.
With this much cooperation, other than superficial gestures, he said it was “unrealistic” for the U.S. and its allies to think China would just “turn off the tap” to North Korea and allow the regime to implode.
“China understands that this would cause chaos in North Korea, the absorption of North Korea into South Korea and the subsequent advance of American troops to the Chinese border,” he said. “So China is not going to allow the economic collapse of North Korea.”
He added that if China were to stop its support of North Korea, Russia would step in to fill the gap, and Pyongyang knows that, so it plays Russia off of China to get what it wants.
For its part, Moscow sees North Korea as a good market for its oil, gas and electricity exports – and also a corridor to exporting the same commodities to South Korea, eventually.
So clearly there is more at stake in taking out North Korea than meets the eye. And while Russia and China may not risk war with the U.S. to stop Washington from ending the North Korean nuclear threat, they don’t appear poised to help the U.S. out with the task either.
Too many competing interests, so if Trump gives the order, it’ll be because he thinks he’ll have to go it alone.