North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un propaganda outlets ramped up demands on the South Korean government soon in an effort to swiftly end the Korean War and uphold Seoul’s Panmunjom Declaration obligations. Yet, North Korea’s implausible denials of the recently discovered covert uranium enrichment facility near Pyongyang and its particular ongoing ship-to-ship transfers to evade oil sanctions reinforce serious doubts that Kim Jong Un has any intent to uphold Pyongyang’s Panmunjom Declaration obligations, aside from denuclearize.
Nonetheless, North Korea wants everyone to think it’s going to finally relinquish its nuclear weapons if South Korea as well as the U.S. could be reasonable about sequencing. Similar to its recent message to Seoul, Pyongyang declared this month that Washington must first earn North Korea’s trust by formally ending the Korean War; only then will North Korea denuclearize. However, this alleged olive branch is merely another of Pyongyang’s traps designed to dilute international pressure and simultaneously pocket American concessions while delaying any of its very own indefinitely.
North Korea embedded this proposal in a official foreign ministry statement that made headlines within the U.S. by attacking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “unilateral and gangster-like demands” for complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization (CVID). The proposed option to Pompeo’s approach was “the commitment of the end in the war with an early date,” constituting the “first factor in creating trust relating to the DPRK as well as the U.S.”
While Americans might possibly not have taken the hint from Pyongyang, South Korean President Moon Jae In optimistically suggested the North Korean statement demonstrated a fresh attitude toward negotiations. What Moon did not see or chose not to see is the fact that North Korea’s concise explaination peace entails the finish from the U.S.-South Korea alliance.
Even though Trump surprised the Pentagon by suspending joint military exercises with South Korea after his summit with Kim Jong Un, this is inadequate to quell Pyongyang’s insecurities and increase bilateral trust. Rather, the foreign ministry statement complained how the suspension is easily reversible because it allows U.S. forces in South Korea to be “intact in the previously held positions without scraping obviously any good rifle.” This statement strongly implies that North Korea’s envisioned peace regime requires the full withdrawal of American troops, effectively smashing the U.S.-South Korean alliance. Furthermore, an American withdrawal prior to North Korean disarmament could leave Pyongyang in an ideal position to extort concessions from Seoul via ongoing intimidation.
Avoiding these kinds of imbalance may seem like sound judgment, yet signing a proper peace treaty may result in the type of complacency that ignores such dangers. Thus, on the press conference following his summit with Kim, President Trump not simply canceled joint military exercises with South Korea but in addition stated he wants to withdraw troops eventually. Although President Trump reiterated that he still prioritizes North Korea’s denuclearization, the turn of events in Singapore suggests how easily the prospect of peace can delude world leaders into offering premature concessions despite an absence of progress on denuclearization. Moreover, while Pyongyang did not openly demand sanctions relief in its latest message towards the U.S., North Korea should anticipate the U.S. and also the international community will lift sanctions voluntarily in return for “peace.”
In previous rounds of negotiation, Washington made several good-faith gestures to construct trust and provide security assurances to North Korea. In 1991, the United States withdrew all tactical nuclear weapons in the Korean peninsula. In a 2005 statement, Washington pledged it has “no intention to fight or invade the DPRK with nuclear or conventional weapons.” Yet, the United States received no concessions inturn. To avoid falling for North Korea’s false promises, Washington should don’t sign a peace agreement inside the absence of CVID, since there might be no true peace on the Korean peninsula for as long as North Korea has nuclear weapons.
Despite Pyongyang’s virulent opposition to CVID, the U.S. could offer creative dialogue mechanisms to satisfy North Korea’s reasonable demands halfway. For example, Cho Yoon Je, South Korea’s ambassador for the United States, recommended that this U.S. could simultaneously pursue denuclearization and trust building. Ambassador Cho’s vision could essentially come in the form of two parallel negotiating tracks: one for denuclearization, as the other targets laying the groundwork to get a peace treaty, which may be signed when disarmament is finished.
As much of this process, Washington need to ensure that CVID is a non-negotiable precondition for any Korean War peace treaty. For example, Washington should describe that it is going to withdraw from peace negotiations if Pyongyang doesn’t supply a full declaration of its nuclear capabilities and allows full inspections of their nuclear facilities.
A North Korean refusal to cooperate with this approach would confirm that Pyongyang is not set on both denuclearization and achieving peace in Korea. In that case, the Trump administration could have just one sensible option: return on the maximum pressure campaign to impose the crippling costs that could compel Kim to finally denuclearize and pursue an actual peace process.