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Russia urges for six-part talks as the practical way to deal with North Korea

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April 25, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Russia’s attitude to North Korea’s nuclear weapons

What Russia thinks about North Korea’s nuclear weapons, Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsBy Anastasia Barannikova, April 24, 2019, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia today for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin…..  Despite Russia’s past vote in favor of sanctions on Kim’s regime, Moscow has many reasons not to lean too hard on Kim over nuclear disarmament…………

Russia wants a stable North more than a non-nuclear North. Although, Russia continues to officially oppose North Korea’s nuclear status on the basis of its strict interpretation of the NPT, experts already speak about “nuclear emancipation” for the North, meaning recognition of its status as a lesser nuclear state. These ideas coincide with an idea some Chinese scholars have developed whereby North Korea would reduce its nuclear arsenal but keep some weapons as a deterrent. From Russia’s perspective, nuclear weapons now guarantee the security of the North Korean regime. The weapons can prevent attempts at violent regime change by external force. Through them, North Korean leadership has the independence to make changes within its borders. That’s good for Russia.

Many Russian analysts consider North Korea’s nuclear program to be defensive. Looking at the North’s nuclear doctrine, it seems likely the country wouldn’t use its nuclear weapons against a country that isn’t planning an attack. While little is known about Russia’s military planning beyond its publicly available doctrines, the specifics of the bilateral relations it holds with the North may guarantee that Russia has no plans to attack its neighbor.

……….The security of Kim’s regime, in turn, guarantees stability near Russia’s eastern borders. For Russia, a stable North Korean regime guarantees the absence of refugees flows, a normal feature of conflict zones, but also prevents US troops from deploying in a potentially disintegrating North. And with its nuclear weapons as diplomatic leverage, North Korea can maintain some independence from China. Thus, Moscow views Kim’s stability as providing something of a buffer between Russia and China.

Do North Korean nuclear weapons pose a threat to Russia? From Moscow’s perspective, the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia are relatively stable and don’t pose any immediate threats to security. Relations between Russia and North Korea are neutral, if not friendly. North Korean leadership appreciates Russia’s cautious, slow approach to the relationship, in contrast to China’s activist take on issues on the Korean Peninsula. Russia’s emphasis on the need to respect state sovereignty as a fundamental principle of international relations further lubricates the bilateral relationship: Russia avoids any attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of the North, so Pyongyang does not consider Russia as an external threat.

Many Russian analysts consider North Korea’s nuclear program to be defensive. Looking at the North’s nuclear doctrine, it seems likely the country wouldn’t use its nuclear weapons against a country that isn’t planning an attack. While little is known about Russia’s military planning beyond its publicly available doctrines, the specifics of the bilateral relations it holds with the North may guarantee that Russia has no plans to attack its neighbor.

But there is one scenario whereby North Korea’s nuclear weapons could threaten Russia. If Kim launches missiles against the United States, experts say they’ll fly over Russian territory. A US anti-missile response could, thus, risk a war between Russia and the United States. But Russian experts don’t believe that North Korea would ever attack the United States; they consider Kim Jong Un too rational for that. ………https://thebulletin.org/2019/04/what-russia-thinks-about-north-koreas-nuclear-weapons/

April 25, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

China opens fourth border crossing with North Korea, complete with radiation detectors

Japan Times AFP-JIJI, APR 10, 2019

A Chinese city has opened a new border crossing with North Korea — fitted with radiation detectors — even as talks between Washington and Pyongyang have languished over disagreements for nuclear sanctions relief………

The crossing also has a nuclear radiation detection gate, the city said. China has long been worried about any fallout from North Korea’s nuclear activities and Jilin was rocked by an earthquake after a massive bomb test across the border in September 2017. ….. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/04/10/asia-pacific/china-opens-fourth-border-crossing-north-korea-complete-radiation-detectors/#.XK6MiFUzbGg

April 11, 2019 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Absolute stalemate in nuclear negotiations, but Trump says that his relationship with Kim Jong-un is“very good,”

Trump says his relationship with Kim remains ‘very good’ amid nuclear stalemate, US President Donald Trump made the statement during the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual meeting. Asia News Network,  by The Korea Herald, pril 8, 2019 US President Donald Trump said on Saturday (US time) that his relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un remains “very good,” conveying his hopes of drawing Kim back to the negotiation table.His remarks come amid a stalemate between the two countries following the breakdown of the two leaders’ second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, in late February. The deal breakers concerned denuclearization and economic sanctions.

“We’re getting along with North Korea. We’ll see how it works out, but we have a good relationship. Don’t forget, I have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un,” Trump said during a speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s 2019 spring leadership meeting in Las Vegas………..

After their summit ended without an agreement, media reports revealed that the US had delivered a draft of an agreement demanding that Pyongyang transfer all its nuclear weapons and nuclear materials to the US.

According to Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun on Sunday, the draft agreement consisted of five main points — two demands for the communist regime and three compensatory items.

In the document, the US defined denuclearization for the North as shipping out all its nuclear weapons and dismantling all related facilities, according to the Japanese daily, which cited as its sources officials from the US, South Korea and Japan.

The US draft sought to ban all future nuclear activities by Pyongyang and to conduct inspections to verify its nuclear disarmament process. There was also a plan to excavate the remains of US soldiers in North Korea.

In return, Washington reportedly offered to declare an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War — which came to a halt with only an armistice — and to establish joint liaison offices and provide economic support to the communist regime.

On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he is “confident” that there will be a third summit between Trump and Kim, though he did not provide a clear date or a location.

n a televised interview with “CBS This Morning,” based in the US, Pompeo also said the Trump administration is “convinced” that Pyongyang is “determined as well” to achieve denuclearization.

Pompeo noted, however, that the administration remains “incredibly clear” that economic sanctions on the North “will not be lifted until our ultimate objective is achieved.”

Since the February summit, Pyongyang has expressed dissatisfaction toward Washington via its state news agency and its Foreign Ministry.

With Pyongyang’s Supreme People’s Assembly due to hold its first meeting on Thursday since a recent election, eyes are on whether the North Korean leader will mention denuclearization talks in his policy speech.

Pompeo said the US side will “closely watch” to see what Kim says, but that it does not expect any great surprises.

The North’s parliamentary session will coincide with the summit expected to take place in Washington between Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. https://asianews.network/2019/04/08/trump-says-his-relationship-with-kim-remains-very-good-amid-nuclear-stalemate/

April 8, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hopes that North Korea will just hand over its nuclear weapons to USA

Pompeo hopes North Korea’s Kim does ‘right thing’ on nuclear weapons in parliament speech, David Brunnstrom, WASHINGTON (Reuters) 5 Apr 19,  – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday he hoped North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would use a meeting of the country’s parliament next week to state publicly “it would be the right thing” for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly is due to hold its first meeting this year on Thursday and could feature the first public comments from Kim about a second summit between him and U.S. President Donald Trump Hanoi in February that collapsed………..

Pompeo  said he was “confident” there would be a third summit between Trump and Kim but did not have a timetable although he hoped it would be soon.

Pompeo stressed though that economic sanctions would not be lifted until North Korea gave up its nuclear weapons.

……..North Korea has warned that it is considering suspending talks and may rethink a freeze on missile and nuclear tests, in place since 2017, unless Washington makes concessions.

According to a document seen by Reuters last week, on the day their Hanoi talks collapsed, Trump handed Kim a piece of paper that included a blunt call for the transfer of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and bomb fuel to the United States. Analysts said the move was probably seen by the North Korean leader as insulting and provocative…… https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-usa/pompeo-hopes-north-koreas-kim-does-right-thing-on-nuclear-weapons-in-parliament-speech-idUSKCN1RH1ZW

April 6, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

The merits of letting North Korea keep its nuclear weapons, for now

Nuclear North Korea Can Keep Its Weapons, Kim Jong-un may not be willing to denuclearize now, but it’s possible that his calculations could change after some trust has been established and Pyongyang’s relations with its neighbors have become more productive.

National Interest, 20 Mar 111119,  Daniel R. DePetris Follow @DanDePetris on Twitter   Over two weeks removed from a U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi that concluded without even a minor agreement to meet again, North Korean vice foreign Minister Choe Son-hui had some pointed remarks for the Trump administration during a March 15 news briefing in Pyongyang. While she notably left President Donald Trump out of her critiques, Choe tore apart his negotiating team as inept and insincere charlatans worried more about politics than making a mutually-acceptable deal. She accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton of deliberately sabotaging the talks with a hardline approach. She questioned why U.S. negotiators let a good opportunity slip from their fingers. And she was unapologetic about Pyongyang’s position, calling its demand for a relaxation of some of the most stringent UN Security Council sanctions a fair payment for the closure of the North’s Yongbyon nuclear research center.

Then came the kicker: Kim Jong-un, Choe said, may decide to suspend the talks with Washington altogether. “On our way back to the homeland, our chairman of the state affairs commission [Kim] said. “For what reason do we have to make this train trip again?” she told the room . “I want to make it clear that the gangster-like stand of the United States will eventually put the situation in danger. We have neither the intention to compromise with the United States in any form nor much less the desire or plan to conduct this kind of negotiation.”

Secretary Pompeo brushed aside the comments the next morning at the State Department, calling them all part of the song-and-dance of high-stakes diplomacy. Coming on the heels of a report in the Washington Post detailing confusion in the Trump administration about how it should proceed post–Hanoi and during a period of increased murmuring on Capitol Hill for additional sanctions on the North Korean economy, the current negotiations appear to be incredibly vulnerable to an irrevocably break.

Trump has three general options going forward. Option one would be to persist with what can best be described as the John Bolton model, where Washington continues to demand immediate, full, and complete nuclear disarmament from Kim in exchange for economic sanctions relief and diplomatic normalization later on. Option two would be the status quo, but with more sanctions slapped on the North Koreans in the hope that more restrictive banking measures and oil quotas will coerce Kim into desperately returning to the table in a far weaker position.

As was vividly demonstrated in Hanoi, the first choice is a road to nowhere—one that would not only eliminate whatever diplomatic opening was available but could very well result in a confrontation neither the United States or North Korea wants. The second choice will likely miss the mark too; as the latest comprehensive report from the Security Council panel of experts dutifully documents, the Kim regime is a master at sanctions evasion. Previous sanctions regimes on North Korea have been regarded as ineffective by UN monitors, and there is no evidence that more Security Council resolutions would be any more impactful on Kim’s wallet than the dozen that came before it (China can single-handedly render sanctions moot). Indeed, if Pyongyang can find loopholes in the three strongest Security Council resolutions enacted since 2017, then it can find loopholes in the fourth.

Fortunately, there is a third option.

For the past quarter-century, U.S. policy has been centered on denuclearization-for-peace. In this policy, the Kim regime can only have peaceful relations with the United States and become a full valve in East Asia’s economic engine if it gives up each and every last nut and bolt of its weapon of mass destruction program—including its chemical and biological weapons stockpiles. Successive U.S. administrations have operated on the same paradigm ever since the North Korean nuclear issue became a top U.S. national-security concern. The only difference across the Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations is the negotiating tactics each administration has used to persuade North Korea to denuclearize. ……….

Rather than denuclearization before peace, the Trump administration should shake up the playbook and reverse the order. Just because the Kim regime will remain nuclear-capable for the foreseeable future does not mean the United States and its allies in South Korea and Japan should have a perpetually hostile relationship with the North. If Washington dealt with a nuclear-capable Soviet Union, China, and Pakistan with cordiality, then Washington can do the same with a nuclear North Korea.

This does not mean the United States has to accept Pyongyang’s nuclear status, its human rights abuses, its illicit arms sales, or its cyberhacking—none of which are conducive to acceptable international behavior. If U.S. security, political, or economic interests are directly at stake, then the Trump administration should not hesitate to defend them.

What this change in approach does require, however, is a Washington that is finally prepared to end its daily fixation on short or even medium-term North Korean nuclear disarmament at the cost of everything else, including an inter-Korean reconciliation process that—if taken to its fruitful conclusion—would lessen the hostility on the Korean Peninsula considerably……..

As a country infinitely stronger and more resourceful than North Korea, the United States can afford to wait for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. What the United States should no longer wait for, though, is an end to seventy years of animosity.

Daniel R. DePetris is a foreign affairs columnist for the Washington Examiner and the American Conservative and a frequent contributor to the National Interest. https://nationalinterest.org/blog/korea-watch/nuclear-north-korea-can-keep-its-weapons-48342

March 21, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | 1 Comment

The US has hardened its position on North Korea- the influence of John Bolton?

A top US diplomat just laid out the new approach to North Korea. It’s doomed.

Stephen Biegun told a Washington audience that “we are not going to do denuclearization incrementally.”Vox, By The top US diplomat tasked with negotiating with North Korea just laid out a denuclearization plan that’s destined to fail.

above – John Bolton 

In his first public comments since President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in Vietnam last month, Stephen Biegun, the US special representative for North Korea, told a Washington audience Monday that the administration wants Pyongyang to give up all of its weapons of mass destruction before anything else.

“We are not going to do denuclearization incrementally,” the envoy said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s nuclear conference. “The foundation of US policy is denuclearization.”

But it’s not just nuclear weapons: The Trump administration also wants the complete removal of chemical and biological weapons from North Korea, Biegun said, meaning the US wants Pyongyang only to have conventional weapons by the end of the process.

Let’s be extremely clear about what this means: If the US maintains this position, any chance for the US to convince North Korea to part with its nuclear arsenal is gone.

Pyongyang for years has said that the only way it would consider giving up its nuclear weapons is through a step-by-step process where both sides offer reciprocal, commensurate concessions. By resolving smaller disagreements, like lifting sanctions in exchange for the closure of an important nuclear facility, over time the US and North Korea would eventually arrive at the grand prize: the end of Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

But Biegun said the US won’t do that. Instead, the Trump administration wants to see North Korea dismantle its nuclear arsenal before it offers any economic or diplomatic benefits. That’s just not going to work, experts say.

The US has hardened its position on North Korea………..

It’s unclear why the US position has changed so starkly. One of the main theories is that National Security Adviser John Bolton, a noted North Korea hardliner, has gained more power in the negotiation process. ……… the US now openly holds an “all or nothing” stance toward North Korea. And if that’s the case, the talks are doomedhttps://www.vox.com/world/2019/3/11/18260024/north-korea-stephen-biegun-nuclear-trump-kim-bolton

March 12, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | 1 Comment

South Korean President Moon Jae-in praised North Korea’s offer to dismantle a key nuclear production complex

Moon Lauds North Korea’s Nuclear Offer, Splitting With Trump, Bloomberg, By Youkyung Lee, March 4, 2019, 

  • He says a ‘partial’ sanctions lift was discussed in Hanoi
  • Moon says Trump, Kim should meet soon to reach agreement

South Korean President Moon Jae-in praised North Korea’s offer to dismantle a key nuclear production complex as an “irreversible” step to undercut its weapons program, breaking with the Trump administration.

In a meeting to discuss the summit last week in Hanoi between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, Moon on Monday lauded North Korea’s offer to dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear complex. He also called for pushing ahead with inter-Korean projects currently hindered by sanctions and said the two sides discussed the “partial” lifting of sanctions — backing North Korea’s version of events…….

Moon has endeavored to serve as a bridge between Trump and Kim, and has staked political capital on bringing peace to the divided peninsula. ….

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-04/moon-lauds-north-korea-s-nuclear-offer-splitting-with-trump

March 7, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

North Korea’s major nuclear reactor has been shut down for months

Key North Korean nuclear reactor has been shut down for months: IAEA,   Channel News Asia, 4 Mar 19, VIENNA: The nuclear reactor that is believed to have supplied much of the plutonium for North Korea’s nuclear weapons appears to have been shut down for the past three months, the UN atomic watchdog said on Monday (Mar 4), without suggesting why.The 5-megawatt reactor is part of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex, the possible dismantling of which was a central issue in talks between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam last week.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency has not had access to North Korea since Pyongyang expelled its inspectors in 2009, and it now monitors the country’s nuclear activities mainly through satellite imagery.

Some independent analysts, who are also using satellite imagery, believe the ageing reactor is having technical problems.

“The agency has not observed any indications of the operation of the 5MW(e) reactor since early December 2018,” IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said in a closed-door speech to his agency’s Board of Governors, which is meeting this week.

At the radiochemical laboratory that separates plutonium from the reactor’s spent fuel, there were no indications of such reprocessing activities, Amano added.

But a facility widely believed to be used for uranium enrichment, a process that can also produce weapons-grade material for nuclear bombs, appeared to be running, he said. And building work continued on an experimental light-water reactor.

The IAEA has repeatedly said it is ready to play a verification role in North Korea once a political agreement is reached on the country’s nuclear activities.

The United States says it wants a full “denuclearisation” of North Korea, but the Trump-Kim summit’s abrupt ending without agreement left the future of their talks uncertain ………. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/key-north-korean-nuclear-reactor-has-been-shut-down-for-months–iaea-11310906

March 5, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea’s frighteningly strong non-nuclear artillery


March 5, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Korea offers hope that the Trump-Kim nuclear summit could bring an end to the Korean War

Korean War could be declared over at Trump-Kim summit, says South Korea   There’s an upbeat tone that a formal declaration ending the Korean War could be made at the Hanoi summit this week. SBS News 25 Feb 19,    Hopes that US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will formally declare an end to the 1950-53 Korean War at the Hanoi summit rose Monday, after South Korea said the two leaders could reach an agreement.

The devastating conflict between communist North Korea, backed by China, and the capitalist South, aided by the United States, ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, leaving Pyongyang and Washington still technically at war.

“I believe that the possibility is there,” the South’s presidential Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters about a formal declaration.

“There is no way of knowing what kind of declaration it might be, but I believe the US and North Korea may reach an agreement.”

President Moon Jae-in said in October “it was only a matter of time” before Washington and Pyongyang declared an end to the war.

The US has also struck an upbeat tone. Stephen Biegun, the US special envoy for North Korea, said earlier this month that Trump was “ready to end this war”, fuelling speculation that the formal end of the conflict may be near.

Kim, the leader of North Korea, is due to meet the US president in the Vietnamese capital on Wednesday and Thursday, where it is hoped the pair will make progress in talks on denuclearisation, and a possible peace treaty……..

President Trump says he would be happy as long as North Korea maintains its pause on weapons testing, and he is in no rush to strike a nuclear deal with Kim Jong-un. …..https://www.sbs.com.au/news/korean-war-could-be-declared-over-at-trump-kim-summit-says-south-korea

February 25, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea blasts Japan, claiming that Japan in “nuclear weaponizing”

North Korea alleges ‘nuclear weaponization’ by Japan as Trump-Kim summit draws near, Japan Times, BY JESSE JOHNSON, STAFF WRITER, FEB 25, 2019

In the latest jab at perennial foe Japan, Pyongyang has blasted Tokyo over its alleged “nuclear weaponization” just days ahead of a second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.

In a commentary published Saturday in the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling party criticized what it claimed were “voices for the revision of the constitution and increased military spending and nuclear weaponization” from within the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The commentary said that under Abe, Japan “can go nuclear anytime after giving up ‘three non-nuclear principles.’ ” Consequently, it claimed, “peace in the Asia-Pacific region will be exposed to a great danger.”

Japan, the only country to have endured a nuclear attack, has long maintained that it adheres to its three nonnuclear principles of not possessing, not producing and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons. However, the government admitted in 2010 that previous administrations had lied to the public for decades about atomic weapons, after a government-appointed panel confirmed the existence of secret Cold War-era agreements allowing the U.S. to bring them into the country.

The Rodong Sinmun commentary said that if Japan ditches its three nonnuclear principles, there would be “unimaginable” and “catastrophic consequences.”

“All the countries that truly want global peace and security should keep close watch over Japan’s nuclear weaponization.”

Japan has ramped up military spending and the acquisition of sophisticated weapons in recent years, spending around 1 percent of its gross domestic product on the Self-Defense Forces — which, given the size of its economy, makes it one of the world’s biggest military spenders…….  https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/02/25/national/politics-diplomacy/north-korea-alleges-nuclear-weaponization-japan-trump-kim-summit-draws-near/#.XHRA0YkzbGg

February 25, 2019 Posted by | Japan, North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons seen by North Korea as essential to its survival

North Korea sees nuclear weapons as key to its survival, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nukes-not-

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance on a nuclear weapons program in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 3, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS

alliances-seen-by-north-korea-as-guarantor-of-survival/ BY KATIANA KRAWCHENKO FEBRUARY 22, 2019   CBS NEWSNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un sees nuclear weapons, not alliances, as the “ultimate guarantor” of survival, according to former top CIA analyst Jung Pak, who joined CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett for lunch on this week’s episode of “The Takeout.”That, she told Garrett, complicates the question of what “denuclearization” ultimately means, particularly ahead of President Trump’s summit with Kim beginning next Wednesday.

“The first summit produced very little in terms of how we were going to move toward North Korea denuclearization,” Pak said, adding that Kim has been “developing all of the ingredients for this recipe of mating the nuclear weapon on top of the ballistic missile that is shown to be able to fly across the world, to hit virtually any spot, frankly.”

Kim has been intent on showing us his capabilities, and he’s also been pretty clear about his intentions. He’s not going to unilaterally disarm, he said — unless the U.S., and frankly, the world give up its nuclear weapons.”

Trump administration officials say they do not know if North Korea has made the choice yet to denuclearize, but they’re engaged in these talks because they believe in the possibility.

President Trump himself has asserted that if North Korea does achieve verifiable “denuclearization,” which he simultaneously said he is now in “no rush” to achieve, the country could become a “tremendous economic power” due to their “unbelievable location” tucked in next to Russia, China and South Korea.

Pak believes “there is something to be said” for that point. But the North also sees its location as a real vulnerability, she told Garrett.

“They’re surrounded by the second, third and eleventh largest economies, and the only thing that sets them apart, and the only thing that makes them relevant is nuclear weapons.”

February 23, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

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

February 23, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Closing down Yongbyon nuclear facility to be up for discussion at US-North Korea summit

February 23, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment