Venturing peace in Korean Peninsula

Venturing peace in Korean Peninsula

SOME new peace developments are seen marking in the Korean Peninsula. Kim Jong-un is believed to have been the first North Korean leader to cross into South Korean territory (on April 27) since the end of the Korean War in 1953. The historic summit— between the two Korean heads, Kim John- un of N Korea and Moon Jae of S Korea—seems to indicate new winds of rapprochement . Futile to remind that after nearly a sixteen year Cold War between Washington and Pyongyang over N Korean nuclear issue , the hovering clouds of war in the Korean Peninsula are dispelling because the upcoming meeting between US President Donald Trump and N Korean President Kim paves the way for optimism over despair.

Though the White House has continued its push to temper expectations around a potential summit — saying the US will not negotiate any concessions until Pyongyang takes concrete steps toward dismantling its nuclear and missile programs. And interestingly, Trump called North Korea’s dictatorial leader Kim Jong-un “very honourable” prior to a planned face-to-face meeting soon expected between the two leaders. The inter-Korean summit held on April 27 is the result of lengthy and determined negotiating on the part of Moon, a longtime advocate of peace between the Koreas. It will also set the stage for the first meeting between a sitting US president and North Korean leader when Donald Trump and Kim meet in late May or June.

Pressed on his definition of “denuclearization” in North Korea, Trump said last Tuesday that he wanted to see Pyongyang get rid of all its “nukes.” “They get rid of their nukes. It means they get rid of their nukes,” he said, adding it would be easy to strike a “simple deal” with North Korea but that he was aiming higher. “It would be very easy for me to make a simple deal and claim victory. I don’t want to do that. I want them to get rid of their nukes,” he added. My article, ‘’Rebooting Peace in the Korean Peninsula’’ published in the Daily Journalist website fervently argued ‘’The Korean peninsula has been the vortex of politics and war for much of the 20th century and while the start of the 21st century yet puts both the Koreans from North and South under the growing shambles of insecurity and confusion. World War II ended with its division, and today the divided Korea continues to attract the attention of Pacific countries.

Deserted by allies and isolated by the economic success of her neighbors, North Korea is ruled by basically the same regime since before the Korean war – under the son of the former ruler’’. North and South have evolved in opposite directions, and are more different than they are similar. The struggles of defectors and refugees from the DPRK to integrate into 8 modern societies in the ROK and elsewhere provide a glimpse of the extraordinary difficulty of merging the two Korean populations. These suggestions are not offered with naiveté. Some will fail, and none will, in their own right, deliver real progress. All will be viewed suspiciously by North Korea, and the government will attempt to twist words, deeds, and outcomes to support its fundamental premise. Regional geopolitics and global power politics remain the most influencing drivers of the North Korean stalemate.

Formerly, the Washington policy makers- the ardent advocates of realpolitik – seem to have sown seeds of dissension between the twin Koreans which blatantly undermined the prospects of peace in the Korean peninsula. Unfortunately and unwisely, the previous US administrations liked to talk about military option, but the fact that it has allowed the issue to drag on for so long indicates that a decision on war is very hard given the potential cost and unpredictable consequences. But its act of threat and rhetoric of war have scared the DPRK into believing that achieving nuclear capability is the only way it can protect itself. But as wisdom would have it, the policy makers in the Trump administration realised the worth of pragmatism over warmongering temptations that instead of heightening hostility and imposing pressure and sanctions, it must leave an opening to the DPRK by launching peace talks, offering necessary diplomatic compromises and seriously considering the DPRK’s security appeals. “Without holding the key to the DPRK’s security concerns, China has no leverage to convince this foreign nation to stop its nuclear program,” Fu Ying, chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China’s legislature, wrote in a May paper for the Brookings Institution, using the initials for North Korea’s formal name.

From North Korea’s perspective, the legitimacy that comes from a leadership meeting with a US president and ongoing negotiations as an equal are big wins. Now that it has established a credible nuclear deterrent, North Korea has every incentive to reduce tensions in the region as long as the Kim regime retains its absolute control inside the country and uses the leverage nuclear weapons provide internationally. That’s why the series of confidence-building measures North Korea has already announced and likely will negotiate — including a hotline phone connecting North and South Korea’s top leaders, a nuclear testing and long-range missile launch freeze, and perhaps even some preliminary inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency — make sound strategic sense for North Korea.. In early March it was Moon’s National Security Advisor Chun Eui-yong who returned from a historic visit to Pyongyang and announced that North Korea was ready to put its nuclear weapons programme on the table. The peace omen is that Kim made a highly publicised declaration after a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea that North Korea would no longer launch intercontinental-range ballistic missiles or test nuclear weapons.

By: Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

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