Will North Korea be really serious this time? The U.S.-DPRK summit will now take place on June 12 as originally planned. We welcome this dynamic trend toward resolving North Korea’s nuclear issue through dialogue.
At his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chairman Kim Jong Un reiterated his longstanding position for a “gradual solution” of the denuclearization issue. He will not accept the unilateral demand for North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and is insisting on “phased” denuclearization with corresponding easing of sanctions and guarantees for the DPRK regime along the way.
While Kim has repeatedly indicated his willingness to implement the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula, it is worrying that he has not mentioned any concrete steps. It is reckoned that a gap remains with the U.S.’s demand for complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization (CVID) in a short period of time.
President Donald Trump has hinted at the possibility of agreeing to end the Korean War, currently in a state of armistice, at the U.S.-DPRK summit. A peace agreement should not be concluded, as demanded by North Korea, while the denuclearization process is still incomplete. This may give rise to a security vacuum in East Asia.
North Korea’s threat is multi-tiered. It is a matter of course that on top of nuclear weapons, Japan and the U.S. should press for the complete elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, including biological and chemical weapons, and ballistic missiles of all ranges.
The U.S.-DPRK summit should discuss the procedures and deadlines for the declaration of all nuclear facilities and substances in North Korea, inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the removal and verification of relevant equipment and materials. It is important that this should be an occasion to start the actual process of complete denuclearization.
One must not be swayed by the dramatic diplomatic events since the beginning of this year and lose sight of the real essence of the process of North Korea’s complete denuclearization. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe must emphasize the need to apply stronger pressure to Trump, who has said: “I don’t want to use the term ‘maximum pressure’ anymore.” Japan and the U.S. need to coordinate their positions meticulously ahead of the U.S.-DPRK summit. (Slightly abridged)