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An end-of-war declaration would be the first step towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula begins with a peace declaration, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By David Kim, February 14, 2019 During his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump announced that he will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the end of the month to continue a “historic push” for peace on the Korean Peninsula. If one statement stood out from Trump on North Korea, it’s that “much work remains to be done” to achieve complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

Last year’s summit in Singapore between Trump and Kim was historic not for what it achieved on denuclearization, but for what it signaled to the world: Both countries, through the top-down, personality-driven diplomacy of their leaders, are ready to transform their relationship by seeking permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. The central question moving forward isn’t whether Kim is willing to give up his nuclear weapons; rather it’s whether the United States and North Korea can transform their relationship to a point where Kim and his elites begin to believe their regime can survive without nuclear weapons. More than any other measure, an end-of-war declaration between the two countries would represent the beginning of this transformation. As the State Department’s special representative for North Korea, Stephen Beigun, said in a speechat Stanford University, “President Trump is ready to end this war. It is over. It is done.” Both sides appear ready to make that statement a reality.

Denuclearization is a long-term goal. While some Trump administration officials have suggested otherwise, complete denuclearization isn’t a realistic short- or medium-term goal. After the Singapore summit, President Trump tweeted that North Korea no longer poses a “nuclear threat.” In fact, experts believe that tweet is a decade or more away from being true. It now seems that Trump may have adjusted his views on this point. In a recent tweet, Trump said he looks forward to “advancing the cause of peace” at the next summit in Vietnam, suggesting he accepts that peace and a new relationship should undergird any real denuclearization agreement with North Korea.

Trump should understand that by agreeing to a peace declaration with the North, he won’t necessarily speed up the denuclearization timeline; rather, he’d be laying the foundation for a formal peace regime, an institutional set-up to allow both the United States and North Korea to work toward that goal.  At Stanford, Biegun said the United States is prepared to take parallel steps with North Korea by “simultaneously look[ing] for ways to advance a more stable and peaceful, and ultimately, a more legal peace regime on the Korean Peninsula,” one that can “advance denuclearization.” This is a much more subtle formulation than the previous all-or-nothing approach taken by many US policymakers, the idea that North Korea had to abandon all its weapons first before the United States took any steps such as sanctions relief.

Kim wants an end to the Korean War. Ever since the days of Kim’s grandfather Kim Il Sung’s regime, North Korea has sought a formal peace regime ending the Korean War. The country has repeatedly raised its strong desire for an end-of-war declaration as the next step towards permanent peace. A report on the regime’s state-run news agency, for instance, stated last year “that the issue of the end-of-war declaration should have been resolved a half a century ago.” Trump appears to agree. He reportedly told Kim in Singapore that he’d sign a declaration. Such a peace declaration may serve as a preliminary security guarantee, or litmus test, to see how serious Kim is about denuclearizing.

Unlike a formal peace treaty, an end-of-war declaration, or peace declaration, is a legally non-binding instrument. Getting to a declaration won’t involve difficult negotiations. The document, rather, would represent a symbolic end to a war that has actually been over since 1953. Without abandoning the goal of a peace treaty, Trump could use a declaration to signal to Kim that the United States is serious about negotiating with his regime. As some experts also point out, an end-of-war declaration could be a “game changer” for North Korea because it could help “neutralize the hardliners” within Kim’s regime, creating the breathing space to allow further progress towards denuclearization. It would also counteract the frequent propaganda narrative in North Korea of foreign encroachment………. https://thebulletin.org/2019/02/denuclearization-of-the-korean-peninsula-begins-with-a-peace-declaration/?utm_source=Bulletin%20Newsletter&utm_medium=iContact%20email&utm_campaign=PeaceDeclaration_02152019

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February 23, 2019 - Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea

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