AP: Officials: N Korea's Kim Possibly Ill
LA Times: North Korea's Kim Jong Il may have had a stroke: U.S. intelligence officials
Kim Jong-Il, the eccentric dictator of North Korea, has suffered a stroke, according to information leaked to the AP from American intelligence officials. Now, let’s keep in mind some context: negotiations on the North’s nuclear weapon program were beginning to get rocky: North Korea had begun to stall on its end of the deal. Could this be a political move? And if not, how will this affect the denuclearization process?
Watching the military
North Korea does not have a succession mechanism in place. Kim was the obvious pick after his father died, but there is no obvious heir for succeeding Kim. His death could lead to the collapse of his regime.
It is more likely, however, that with the death of Kim, the military will take power. That’s bad new for the West: the North Korean military is strongly against giving up its nuclear program.
What can the U.S. do
It is always possible (and maybe likely) Kim is still alive. Our current policy run by Christopher Hill should continue until death is confirmed or denied. With any new leaders, a wait-and-see approach should be adopted: will they be reformers?
All we can do is wait.