Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, North is Willing

Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, North is Willing

By IndraStra Global News Team

Image Attribute: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un greets a member of the special delegation of South Korea's President at a dinner in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 6, 2018. KCNA/via Reuters

Image Attribute: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un greets a member of the special delegation of South Korea's President at a dinner in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 6, 2018. KCNA/via Reuters 

On March 6, 2018 (Tuesday), North Korea told a visiting South Korean delegation that it was willing to hold talks with the U.S. about giving up nuclear weapons and normalizing relations with Washington. 

North and South Korea also agreed to a summit meeting between Kim and South Korea's Moon Jae-in in late April. The Trump administration had previously said it would consider talks with North Korea if the country conceded to "denuclearization," according to the Washington Post.

North Korea in the past has sought the withdrawal of U.S. forces in South Korea and the wider region, effectively meaning an end to the U.S.-South Korean alliance, something Washington could not accept.

FLASHBACK


On October 21, 1994, the United States and North Korea signed an agreement-"Agreed Framework"-calling upon Pyongyang to freeze operation and construction of nuclear reactors suspected of being part of a covert nuclear weapons program in exchange of freezing and replacement of North Korea's indigenous nuclear power plant program with proliferation-resistant light water reactor power plants and the step-by-step normalization of relations between the U.S. and North Korea. Implementation of the agreement was troubled from the start, but its key elements were being implemented until it effectively broke down in 2003.

The pact was neither a treaty subject to Senate approval nor a legally binding executive agreement, but a non-binding political commitment between the two countries noted by the United Nations Security Council. It was signed in the wake of North Korea's 90-day advance notification of its intended withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (which North Korea "suspended" after 89 days), a U.S. military buildup near the country, and the U.S. plans to bomb the active Yongbyon nuclear reactor.

The Agreed Framework was successful in freezing North Korean plutonium production in Yongbyon plutonium complex for eight years from 1994 to December 2002; however, it failed to stop North Korea from developing a secret highly enriched uranium program, begun in the "mid- or late-1990's."

INTERNATIONAL REACTIONS:


UNITED NATIONS

In a statement, the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he was "encouraged" by the advances made in talks, "particularly the agreement to hold a summit meeting soon, to further reduce military tensions and to discuss denuclearization in future talks with all relevant parties."

The Spokesman said the UN Secretary-General had stressed "the need to protect the momentum and seize the opportunities available to find a peaceful path forward."

The statement added: "The latest developments are further steps forward in laying the foundation for the resumption of sincere dialogue, leading to sustainable peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. The Secretary-General reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to further assist in this process with the Governments concerned."

UNITED STATES

The director of national intelligence and the head of the Pentagon's intelligence agency were skeptical of news that North Korea would be open to denuclearization talks.

"All efforts in the past have failed and have simply bought North Korea time to achieve what they want to achieve," Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. "Maybe this is a breakthrough. I seriously doubt it."

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, who is the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's proposition was "kind of a show-me."

In his opening remarks at the Senate on Tuesday, Ashley said the North Korean leader "shows no interest in walking away from his nuclear or ballistic missile programs." He added that Kim has "pressed his nation down a path to develop nuclear weapons and deliver them with ballistic missiles that can reach South Korea, Japan, Guam and the United States."

EUROPEAN UNION

In Brussels, Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union (EU), which has tough sanctions in force against North Korea, said the 28-nation bloc was ready to do what it could to support the peace moves on the Peninsula.

"We will be pleased to host the foreign minister of South Korea, Kang Kyung-wha with whom I was in contact today, to the foreign affairs council on March 19," Mogherini said. "With her, we will have updates on the state of play but also work on the ways in which the European Union can support these first encouraging steps we're seeing on the Korean peninsula."

JAPAN

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Wednesday that North Korea’s intentions were unclear and careful analysis was needed, when asked by reporters about plans for a summit by North and South Korea.

INDIA

In New Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) did not officially comment on the developments on the Korean peninsula. However, Prof. Srikanth Kondapalli of Centre for East Asian Studies at the New Delhi-based Jawaharlal Nehru University, pointed out that North Korea had a history of using negotiations to buy time for its weapons programme. “So I don’t think they will denuclearize. Denuclearization means giving up nuclear weapons with international verifications."

“They (North Koreans) see nuclear weapons as a means of ensuring regime stability as well as regime legitimization as they see their (Communist) way of life as superior to South Korea’s,” he further added, doubting whether the offer was a “sincere one”.

With reporting by BBC, LiveMint, The Korea Herald, The Washington Post, and Reuters.