US Cannot Play Out Any Libyan Scenario for North Korea: Finnish Expert

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A prominent Finnish author and political expert described recent comments by US Vice-President Mike Pence, who likened North Korea to Libya, as “nothing new”, saying that China and Russia as two global powers would not allow any Libyan scenario there.

“The US always uses threat, wants to intimidate its victim countries into submission, and if not successful then actually uses the force to destroy them, Serbia, Iraq, Libya…,” Jon Hellevig said in an interview with Tasnim.

“The difference in the case of North Korea is that, the country happens to be in the backyard of both China and Russia, two global superpowers that are already in the process of dismantling the unilateral power of the United States,” he said, adding, “These countries would not allow any Libyan scenario there, that’s for sure.”

Jon Krister Hellevig is a Finnish political economist, lawyer, author, and businessman who has worked in Russia since the early 1990s. Hellevig was a candidate in the European parliament election in 2014. He is the managing partner of the Moscow-based law company Hellevig, Klein & Usov. Hellevig has written several books, including Avenir Guide to Russian Taxes (2002, 2003, 2006 English and Russian editions); Avenir Guide to Labor Laws (2002, 2003, 2006 English and Russian editions). Expressions and Interpretations, a book on the philosophy of law and the development of Russian legal practices; Hellevig takes actively part in public discussion of current affairs and social structure contributing with articles and commentary in the media. He regularly lectures at international seminars on various topics.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Tasnim: US President Donald Trump on Friday welcomed North Korea's statement that it was still willing to meet despite his cancellation of the summit. He called the North's reaction "warm and productive" and expressed hope for "long and enduring prosperity and peace." Trump tweeted Friday morning, a day after he withdrew from the June 12 summit. In a letter to North Korea Leader Kim Jong-un, Trump had blamed "tremendous anger and open hostility" by Pyongyang but held out hope that the meeting could happen. North Korea issued a statement Friday saying it is still "willing to give the US time and opportunities" to reconsider talks "at any time, at any format." Trump, during a Tuesday meeting with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in at the White House, had said there is a "very substantial chance" that the historic summit with the North Korean leader next month may not happen. However, it emerged Tuesday that the US government has already been minting commemorative coins to mark its planned summit in Singapore on June 12. What do you think about the developments? What is your prediction about the future of talks with the North Korean leader?

Hellevig: Frankly, I think very little of the actual essence of the talks and what is going on behind the scenes has reached the public domain. The canceling, or postponement of the summit, is as unexplainable by any particular facts as the announcement of the summit. What this must mean is that both sides have a set of goals and they reached an impasse and one of the sides wanted to stress that their particular goal is a deal breaker, which led to this. It is unclear if the summit was put off on the initiative of the Trump regime or they did it just as a preventive action to North Korea possibly calling it off.  The difference is not crucial, more important would be to know what the parties actually want to achieve, and most crucially, why North Korea thinks it could possibly trust any treaty concluded with the USA? Certainly, there must be a reason for that.

Tasnim: Russia's Foreign Ministry warned that Washington's recent threats to North Korea about facing a similar fate to that of Libya if Pyongyang refuses to abandon its nuclear program represent a risk to the entire region. The Russian Foreign Ministry's spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, said, “The fact is, when the US threatens North Korea, Pyongyang with a ‘Libyan scenario,' they threaten not only Pyongyang, they threaten everyone, the whole region." Earlier, US Vice-President Mike Pence insisted the North Korean crisis will "end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong-un doesn't make a deal" with the US. What is your take on the comments?

Hellevig: This is nothing new. We know that the US has been a global bully since the 19th century when it started its gunboat diplomacy to achieve absolute regional hegemony. The last 30 years their policy has been the same, with much more devastating weapons and the quest for absolute global power. Therefore, the US always uses threat, wants to intimidate its victim countries into submission, and if not successful then actually uses the force to destroy them, Serbia, Iraq, Libya….

The difference in the case of North Korea is that the country happens to be in the backyard of both China and Russia, two global superpowers that are already in the process of dismantling the unilateral power of the United States. These countries would not allow any Libyan scenario there, that’s for sure.

The reference to a Libyan scenario is of course also an astonishing admission from the side of the US regime that they willfully destroyed Libya to reach their geopolitical goals. And like a mafia state, they now openly threaten other countries with more of the same.

Tasnim: As you know, Trump recently announced the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, US, Britain, France, and Germany). Prior to the move, the US had repeatedly violated the international pact, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), by imposing numerous sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Given Washington’s non-commitment to such an important international agreement, what would be a guarantee of success of US-North Korea talks?

Hellevig: The withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal is just one landmark of many that show that the US regime can absolutely not be trusted. The only real guarantees can come from a multipolar world that through the mechanism of competition between powers reach a balance that would uphold a rules-based global order. In this case, because of the close Chinese and Russian geographical proximity and that of interests, that is where the guarantees could come. But we do not know about those details as of yet, as the media circus around this question is exclusively centered around personalities of the maverick Trump and his North Korean counterpart.

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