Achieving concrete results toward the denuclearization of North Korea is the top-priority issue for a second U.S.-North Korea summit. The United States must craft a firm strategy, to avoid concluding another ambiguous agreement.
U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae In held talks in New York and agreed to cooperate toward another meeting of the U.S. and North Korean leaders.
Having visited North Korea about a week before, Moon held talks with Kim Jong Un, the chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Revealing Kim’s wish that he “hopes a second summit with Trump would take place in the near future, in order to move the denuclearization process along quickly,” Moon also relayed Kim’s detailed messages to Trump.
Yet what Kim expressed during the inter-Korean summit talks was merely a policy of dismantling a nuclear facility in Yongbyon and such moves, on the condition that the United States implements corresponding measures.
Does Kim truly intend to move ahead with denuclearization? Isn’t he trying to realize a declaration to formally end the Korean War while retaining his nation’s nuclear weapons, and to win a guarantee from Washington of the regime’s survival? It is necessary to ascertain Kim’s true intentions.
It is a matter of concern that Trump has apparently been too eager to hold another meeting with Kim, saying he will announce the location of the second summit shortly. As long as Trump is obsessed with appealing to the public at home, with the midterm elections slated for November, he will end up just allowing Pyongyang to take the initiative in the negotiations.
U.S.-ROK military ties vital
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he intends to visit North Korea shortly to make final preparations for the second meeting. The top priority is to have North Korea declare all its nuclear weapons and related facilities and quickly work out a road map that includes inspections and time lines for dismantlement, as well as procedures and other elements.
Meanwhile, there have been no remarks made, either by Trump or by Moon, stressing the military significance of the U.S.-South Korea alliance and the importance of its deterrence against North Korea. It is highly likely that the agreements over military spheres signed by the defense ministers of both countries — during their talks on the sidelines of the inter-Korean summit — have influenced this situation.
With regard to a large-scale military exercise or a buildup of military capability, North and South Korea said they will negotiate through the office of a “joint military committee.” Both countries have also decided on the establishment of a no-fly zone near the military demarcation line.
It is problematic for the activities of the U.S. and South Korean forces to be significantly restricted. There is also the possibility of hindering reconnaissance activities to detect signs of military provocations by North Korea. It will undoubtedly be difficult for joint military drills, canceled this summer, to be resumed.
The aim of further relaxing tensions is understandable, but North Korea’s military threat has not lessened. The U.S.-South Korea alliance has contributed not only to the defense of South Korea but also to the stability of the whole Northeast Asian region.
Both the United States and South Korea should maintain cooperation in the sphere of security, without being deluded by Pyongyang’s dialogue offensive.