A Pivotal Denuclearisation Summit

Photo Source: Crises Group

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe UpFront


At one point in time, the war of words between North Korea and the United States gave looming dangers of a possible armed escalation between the two countries. The development of a nuclear arsenal in North Korea was met with several diplomatic challenges before.

Trump, at one point in time, believed that his nuclear button was ‘more powerful’. The US is already in the arms race for acquiring supersonic missiles, notorious for travelling faster than the speed of sound that could hit its target faster than ICBM missiles.

Trump once called Kim Jong Un ‘a madman’, while as Kim ensured of destroying any United States aircrafts such as B1-B Lancer before they entered the North Korean airspace. The war of words had put millions of lives on stake. At one point in time, it seemed almost inevitable that North Korea would hit the US territory first. The US didn't have the first to attack policy anyway.

It did take a while for Trump to change his judgment about Kim Jong Un. He now calls him ‘funny’, ‘very talented’, ‘someone who loves his people’, and ‘whom his country loves with fervour’. Perhaps, it may have been necessary to win favours. It was something contentious because according to an enquiry of UN commission, Kim Jong Un is accused of crimes against humanity.

The latest statements at the summit meant that former statements made by both leaders were just ill thought hyperboles, for various reasons.

One of the notable propaganda by North Korean propaganda website was a doctored picture which showed a North Korean nuke hitting a US-nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

After a series of failed negotiations and strategic defence strategies exhibited by the US in the troubled sea waters of the Korean Peninsula, a historic denuclearisation summit in Singapore was finally concluded. Interestingly, Trump thinks that he has built a ‘special bond’ with Kim this time around. As per inputs of US authorities, Kim Jong Un had built an arsenal of around twenty and sixty nuclear warheads.

The news of this peace accord is a respite to ASEAN countries. A nuclear war in this region could have been unthinkable in terms of human catastrophe and the destruction of nature.

Trump has ensured that he would meet Kim Jong Un ‘many times’ in the near future for North Korea’s denuclearisation program. The United States is vying for verification for complete denuclearisation. 

According to Stanford University nuclear scientist Siegfried Hecker, the whole denuclearisation process could take at least fifteen years.

To increase diplomatic ties, the American President wants several US officials and other international personnel’s inside the North Korean territory.

The best that the US government can hope is a sustained and phased denuclearisation process in the years to come. It is mainly because North Korea has been a closed country in terms of diplomatic relations with its six-decade isolation from the world. 

The country had high aims to produce ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons with its state-funded government programs.

The IAEA has no access for inspection to North Korean nuclear facilities since 2009. The country also expelled nuclear inspectors in the past.

Despite this, North Korea had shut down its Punggye-ri nuclear site and has also vowed to destroy its nuclear testing site. Now, by every means, it has to give access to IAEA to affirm a sort of western alliance, which seemed highly unlikely in the past. In that perception, it is a very significant diplomatic summit.

As per Panmunjom Declaration, 2018, DPRK will commit to complete denuclearisation and will ensure long-lasting peace in the region. In return, the US will lift the heavy sanctions and its diplomatic freeze with the international community. It is believed that after the summit was over, Kim Jong Un had alleviated some financial burdens upon his country. Perhaps, the country can trade more in textiles, seafood and other natural resources.

In the regional media, post-summit, he was projected as a world leader and the only source of authority in North Korea. But having said that, it is believed that the old generation leaders, who saw his predecessors ruling the country, won’t accept this change if their power is threatened. It seems that loyalism is almost required for Kim’s rule in the country.

A report by the Crises Group explained: “coordination between allies, in particular, and other interested actors was essential. Seoul desires to diminish the risk of war and fulfil the Moon Jae-in administration’s promise of rapprochement with the North, impelling it to help draw Pyongyang and Washington together. Beijing wants to maintain the prevailing strategic balance or shift it in Chinese favour and to guard against a turnaround that could see Pyongyang cosy up to Washington. Tokyo, a staunch U.S. ally with a lot at stake but no independent ability to influence developments, is keen to protect its strategic interests, including reducing its vulnerability to North Korean shorter-range missiles and nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.”

This policy, that Trump is pursuing with North Korea, is a complete opposite of what he intends to do with Iran. He wants no diplomatic contract with Iran at any level, perhaps due to their pertaining rancour against Israelis.

Trump has extended this priority even to American corporates who do business with the country. If we compare Iran and North Korea, the latter is more powerful in terms of a nuclear arsenal and the aftermaths of war in the region will be much higher than its other Asian counterpart. Seoul is just thirty miles away from North Korea. 

The dangers of war in South Korea could have become unthinkable, resulting in innumerable deaths.

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