Voices from Russia

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Korean Peninsula Peace on Bumpy Road

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Peace Process is Slow but Positive

Pyongyang and Washington stayed on track to hold the planned summit despite their differences on how the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula should proceed. However, Trump changed his stance on 24 May, cancelling the planned meeting. The DPRK attaches the greatest importance to its security and regards its nuclear programme as a guarantee for self-defence. In 2008, Pyongyang blew up the cooling tower of a nuclear plant in accordance with an agreement at the Six-Party Talks but resumed its nuclear programme after pulling out of the agreement because of the USA’s rigid stance.

Even this time, Washington tried to put maximum pressure on Pyongyang by not easing the sanctions and conducting the “Max Thunder” military drill with the ROK, which the DPRK condemned as a security threat. Nevertheless, the dramatic development didn’t come as a surprise, as Trump and Kim refused to budge from their respective rigid stance on the denuclearisation process. Both left the door open for a possible meeting, though, for the sake of the DPRK, the USA, and the world. If the two sides indeed agree to hold the summit on 12 June, it’d be a big signal that the peace process is moving in the right direction.

Shen Haitao

Professor

Northeast Asian Studies College

Jilin University

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Don’t Pin Too Much Hope on Summit

The fact that Washington and Pyongyang failed to resolve their vital disagreements on the denuclearisation process and the DPRK’s security requirements created doubts whether the planned summit would occur. Washington stuck to its “complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement” of Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, the DPRK insisted on a “phased denuclearisation” plan. Due to this stalemate, they couldn’t make adequate preparations for the planned summit, which in turn undermined the meeting’s practical effects on the denuclearisation process.

Trump brought the so-called pragmatic style of a businessman to his presidency. He seems determined to continue using cohesive and confrontational tactics based on an “America First” policy to fulfil his promise of “make America great again” even if they threaten regional and global peace and stability. Moreover, in his wishful thinking, he thought his tough stance, including the insistence on onetime complete denuclearisation, would force the DPRK to agree to his terms relatively quickly. However, he should’ve realised that the two countries had vital and complicated disagreements over denuclearisation for three decades. If Washington and Pyongyang can still hold talks on denuclearisation, we’d regard it as a remarkable achievement.

Fan Jishe

Senior Fellow

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences             

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New US-DPRK Game on Peninsula

Since Trump called off the Washington-Pyongyang summit, even after the latter released three American hostages, stopped its nuclear and missile tests, and blew up the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, the international community expected the DPRK to give a fitting and strong response to the USA. However, the DPRK didn’t choose to do that. Instead, it said it’s still willing to hold a summit “at any time, in any form”.

Trump said Pyongyang’s actions weren’t convincing enough for him to lift the sanctions against the DPRK and make enough efforts to guarantee its security. In fact, the USA said it’d lift the sanctions and take measures to minimise the threat to the DPRK only after Pyongyang completely abandoned its nuclear programme and weapons. By calling off the planned summit, which was full of uncertainties to begin with, the USA is trying to pressure the DPRK to agree to its terms. Besides, if Pyongyang resumes its nuclear or missile tests, or takes any measure that Washington sees as a threat, the US administration will use it as an excuse to strengthen its “maximum pressure” policy, even use military force to denuclearise the peninsula.

Nevertheless, Pyongyang appears committed to promoting the peninsula peace process. At the Third Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea in April, Kim said the DPRK would shift its focus to economic development. If Pyongyang maintains this attitude, the USA would have no justification for intensifying its military activities on the Korean Peninsula or in its neighbourhood. That’s why the two sides are now more likely to start a new round of diplomatic and political games… of trying to force their respective requirements on the other. Therefore, it’d take a long time and the joint efforts of all countries to actually denuclearise the peninsula.

Jin Meihua

Researcher

Northeast Asia Studies Institute

Jilin Academy of Social Sciences

30 May 2018

China Daily

http://europe.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201805/30/WS5b0de72aa31001b82571d0be.html

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