The “Pyongyang Joint Declaration,” which the leaders of the two Koreas signed on Sept. 19, suggests the DPRK wants to enter talks with the U.S. while keeping its nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Chung Eui-yong, director of South Korea’s National Security Office, played up the fruits of the latest inter-Korean summit on Sept. 19 by noting that “it is significant that the supreme leader [of North Korea] confirmed for the first time his willingness to dismantle the country’s symbolic nuclear development facility in Yongbyong.”
The results of the latest inter-Korean summit are far from what the U.S. demands. Washington wants the North to present a list of nuclear programs and a roadmap to nuclear dismantlement, and the abandonment of nuclear warheads. According to sources close to the three-way talks between Japan, the U.S. and South Korea, the biggest concern of the U.S. and South Korea was whether Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers Party of Korea, made a commitment to dismantling nuclear weapons that the country currently possess.
The U.S. claims that the explosion of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and the dismantlement of the Dongchang-ri missile engine test site, which the North has already carried out, will lead to the dismantlement of “future nuclear,” as these programs are designed to help it increase its nuclear capabilities. Now it demands that the North commit to dismantling “present nuclear,” which are weapons it currently possesses.
It appears that North Korea will separate “future nuclear” and “present nuclear” programs and adopt two different approaches in dealing with the U.S in an attempt to reap the greatest returns. In exchange for the dismantlement of “future nuclear weapons,” it wants a declaration of the end of the Korean War (1950 – 1953) and to win security guarantees and hopes to secure economic aid from South Korea and other nations after the relaxation of the sanctions. In addition, it envisages entering talks on the dismantlement of “present nuclear” to win further concessions, such as the normalization of diplomatic ties with the U.S.
It appears that South Korean President Moon Jae-in has persuaded the North to meet the U.S. demands, such as the submission of a list of nuclear programs and a roadmap to nuclear dismantlement, in the latest inter-Korean summit. He may use Kim’s response to his proposal and the denuclearization measures disclosed by him to persuade U.S. President Donald Trump to soon agree to a declaration of the end of the war. (Abridged)