Mar 05, 2019 / 08:56

What are visions for the denuclearization after second no-deal summit?

The Hanoitimes - The central question is whether the US and North Korea can make a turning point to their relationship.

The second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended with no agreement, leaving people speculating about the visions for the denuclearization program which has become a thorny matter concerning the whole world for years. 
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi summit. Photo: France 24
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi summit. Photo: France 24
Talks between Trump and Kim at the summit were reported to be warm but their demands didn’t meet each other. Trump said North Korea wanted all sanctions to be lifted but Washington couldn’t do that. Meanwhile, Pyongyang denied Trump’s claims, saying that they demanded removal of a part, not all sanctions. 

So how the denuclearization would be to bridge the gap between the two sides?

Shifting US-North Korea relations to new direction 

According to Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center, from here, Washington has the opportunity to reorient the US-North Korean relations toward a different, longer-term strategic goal: enticing North Korea out of China’s sphere of influence. In fact, the North Koreans are wary of Chinese domination. They frequently express a desire to extract themselves from over-reliance on China.

The new approach would focus on cultivating a constructive working relationship with Pyongyang. This would require the US government to make early symbolic concessions to the North Koreans while accepting slow and incremental North Korean steps toward denuclearization. 

The US government could also agree to adjustments in US military presence or activity on the peninsula that address North Korean complaints without substantially jeopardizing South Korea’s security. Denuclearization would remain on the agenda, but Washington would also value and even reward North Korean concessions not directly connected to denuclearization.  

The central question ahead isn’t whether Kim is willing to give up his nuclear weapons, it’s whether the US and North Korea can transform their relationship to a point where Kim and his elites begin to believe their regime can survive without nuclear weapons. More than any other measures, an end-of-war declaration between the two countries would represent the beginning of this transformation, the Bulletin quoted David Kim as saying. 

Patient, mutual path required 

The US needs to succeed in these negotiations and verifications, making North Korea an example to improve a nation’s circumstances. Therefore, the US should consider a patient, mutual, step-by-step path and a willingness for the denuclearization as North Korea’s interests as well as their own. It is the only route to such an outcome, Robert J. Goldston told the Bulletin.

John K. Warden and Ankit Panda also said that at this point, the US and its allies should simply aim to quantitatively and qualitatively limit, rather than totally eliminate, North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities while maintaining the long-term goal of working toward North Korean disarmament. 

US should have flexible options 

US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun in his recent remarks at Stanford suggested that while sanctions will not be removed until North Korea’s nuclear weapons are dismantled that the Trump administration is prepared to “simultaneously and in parallel” work with North Korea to fulfill the commitments made in Singapore in June 2018.

If the process were to stall, there will need to be a means to restore pressure. In the absence of a clear provocation by North Korea, it would be unlikely that the United States would be able to get sanctions restored as removing sanctions without a means to restore them would run the risk of reaching an equilibrium point. 

To avoid reaching that equilibrium point, there are essentially three ways that the Trump administration could proceed sanctions relief without lifting sanctions: waive US bilateral sanctions, create an exception to UN sanctions, or provide a temporary waiver for UN sanctions, Stephen Biegun said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump walk in iconic Sofitel Metropole Hanoi hotel. Photo: AFP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump walk in luxury Sofitel Metropole Hanoi hotel. Photo: AFP
Kim vows to meet Trump again: North Korean media

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to meet again with President Donald Trump to continue nuclear negotiations.

Kim’s pledge was released through North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA after the two-day summit in Hanoi between the leaders collapsed allegedly due to discord over sanctions and conflicting accounts of Pyongyang’s demands.

Kim expressed appreciation for Trump’s “active efforts toward results” and called the summit talks “productive” and called the efforts to reduce tensions of “great significance”. 

Trump says he hopes to meet with Kim soon

After the deal-less summit, Trump said in answering a reporters’ question “He [Kim Jong Un] has a certain vision, not really the same as our vision, but has come much closer than a year ago,” the US president said in answering a reporter’s question and he hopes to meet with Kim soon to try for negotiations again, although he has no current plans.

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo also said that he was still optimistic that the US and North Korean teams could continue to meet in the next few weeks though the two sides “cannot go to the end of the road” yet.