Voices from Russia

Friday, 1 June 2018

Trump Should Keep the Promise He Made To the DPRK

The DPRK maintains large armed forces because the USA tried to destroy it in 1950 and the Americans refuse to leave the Korean peninsula. That’s the long and the short of it all. 


While there are some in the USA saying it’d win their leader a Nobel Peace Prize, doubts were cast on whether the planned summit in Singapore between US President Donald Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong-un will actually take place. The on-off-on roller-coaster exposed a shocking lack of seriousness and preparedness on the US side, particularly on Trump’s part, as to how to seize such a rare opportunity to ease the tensions on the Korean peninsula. It’s true that for the two countries to agree to the historic meeting is in itself a major breakthrough, especially if we recall the sabre-rattling and war of words just months ago. However, while the DPRK made goodwill gestures in the past weeks toward improving relations and denuclearisation, by blowing up its nuclear test site and releasing three US detainees, it’s unclear what concessions the USA is willing or able to make going to the summit and subsequent talks.

Pyongyang made it clear that it’d cancel the summit if Washington forces it to surrender its nuclear weapons programme unilaterally or continues to float the Libya model. The DPRK long cited security concerns to justify its nuclear programme. After all, the relevant parties haven’t signed a peace treaty to end the Korean War, which started in 1950. The US security guarantee must be in a formal document so that the Trump Administration and future US leaders will have to abide by it. It’s a lesson learned from the Libya disarmament in 2003. The Obama Administration and its NATO allies pursued régime change in Libya in 2011; eight years after Muammar Gaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons programme.

In this sense, the USA has much to do to make its security guarantee credible this time around. The USA likes to blame the DPRK for all the past failures on denuclearisation. But certain US government actions… such as when the US government stopped shipping oil to the DPRK as agreed upon and former president George W Bush calling Pyongyang part of an “axis of evil”… were much to blame for past setbacks. Key in the security assurance is the DPRK’s long-standing opposition to the US troops stationed in the ROK and their frequent joint drills on and in the waters off the peninsula. If the parties involved sign a peace treaty to end the Korean War, it doesn’t make sense for the USA to continue to deploy those troops on the peninsula. Holding regular military exercises aimed at the DPRK would become unnecessary provocations.

Many US politicians and the military-industrial complex don’t want to see a de-escalation of tensions on the peninsula, let alone a unified Korea, because that’d take away the justification for such a US military presence there. The phasing out of UN sanctions and US unilateral economic sanctions on the DPRK, whilst a reasonable expectation for the DPRK, will, unfortunately, be extremely challenging politically for Trump at home. China has long advocated direct contact between the DPRK and the USA to ease tensions. China doesn’t oppose Korean reunification because no one else in today’s world better understands the term “reunification” than Koreans and Chinese. Chinese would applaud a reunified Korea as a peaceful, prosperous, and friendly neighbour. However, China wouldn’t like to see a reunified Korea that was a US puppet, used as a geopolitical tool by the USA against China. The ball is now in Trump’s court.

1 June 2018

Chen Weihua

China Daily



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