Chinese men push a tricycle stacked with cases of beer to a waiting van in Dandong, China's largest border city with North Korea, in Liaoning Province, on May 30, 2015. China remains North Korea's most important ally, providing Pyongyang with most of its food and energy supplies, but Beijing remains wary of Pyongyang's nuclear program according to an analyst Sunday. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, June 15 (UPI) -- North Korea's strategy of survival is running out of time and its collapse could occur within a decade, an analyst said Sunday.
In an editorial in The National Interest, Jamie Metzl, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said that the "North Korean madness may well be nearing its endgame."
Metzl listed that the three strands of North Korean state survival – its ability to harness absolute terror against its population, its possession of nuclear weapons and its access to economic resources – and the contradictions among the three would "make the regime's demise all but inevitable over time."
North Korea stands in a precarious balance with China, Metzl pointed out, because China is interested in maintaining North Korea and keeping U.S. troops away from its border. At the same time, however, Metzl said Beijing's need to curb Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions could come into conflict with its isolated neighbor.
"China's need to keep a lid on North Korea's nuclear program will ultimately conflict with the DPRK's nuclear drive," Metzl writes.
Metzl said the collapse of North Korea would benefit all, with the North Korean people able to end their "terrible suffering," North and South Korea "reunified under South Korean law" and the "specter of a rogue nuclear nation at the heart of Asia removed."
Similar North Korea collapse scenarios, however, have received scrutiny in the past.
Collapse, wrote John Delury and Chung-in Moon in Foreign Affairs in 2014, is a more complex calculus than eventual reunification under South Korean law. The process also must take into consideration jarring inequalities and social and ideological differences if reunification is to succeed.
Yonhap reported Georgy Toloraya, a Korea expert at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, recently said in Washington it's also more likely in the event of Kim Jong Un's abdication from power another North Korean leader would take his place. Toloraya added North Korea is in a better condition for survival that it was in the famine-beset 90s.