Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, travel to visit Asian countries includes Japan, South Korea, China and North Korea. However, his visit to Pyongyang was with the explicit agenda of discussing denuclearisation talks with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader. The plan to visit Pyongyang was made during a meeting with Ri Yong-ho, North Korean Foreign Minister during the UNGA sessions. This trip marked the fourth visit to the country this year, for the same cause.
There are still mixed views regarding the status on nuclear talks from both sides. Although there are limited moves from both sides (the US and North Korean leadership) towards the accomplishment of their goal, but they lag behind on any substantial outcome in this regard. There are critiques that the US is still not realistic about keeping up its promises. By the way, Pompeo’s previously scheduled visit in August, for this purpose was called off by President Trump indicating that “Chinese interference was undermining the nuclear talks.”
Paradoxically, the Northern side is demanding that the US should join both North and South Korea to halt the long standing Korean War. The US, as of now, should play an effective and an operational role, as an initial ‘confidence building concession’ in the Korean Peninsula, for the reason that the peace treaty is still not signed between North and South Korea; even though the war was halted after reaching a truce back in 1953.
This collaborative approach would have been effective, but regrettably the United States preferred to hurl threats at North Korea aggravating the situation further. Nevertheless, one must be optimistic with regards to the efforts made by the US Secretary of State to reinvigorate nuclear talks between the two countries
Formerly, the relationship between the US and North Korea remained on edge and grew tense after harsh and threatening statements were exchanged by the two, at the state level. It was followed by several missile tests from the North Korean side, who up till now have conducted six nuclear tests (the latest was in September 2017). North Korea offered a frightening and alarming demonstration in the preceding months by highlighting their capability to deliver warheads, using missiles that could easily strike South Korea, Japan and the United States territories. It was actually to exasperate the US’ plan of installing an anti-missile defence system in South, which resulted in further aggravating North Korea. However, the two sides have been slowly trying to flesh out Kim’s (though vague) commitment to denuclearization that was made when he met President Trump in June 2018.
On one hand, the analysts maintain that North Korea has not taken any meaningful step to show it is serious about abandoning its nuclear weapons. Kim has committed to give up his country’s nuclear weapons; though his actions have fallen short of Washington’s demands for a complete inventory of North Korea’s weapon program and the irreversible steps to give up on nuclear arsenal that could be a potential threat to the United States. On the other hand, recently, at a rally in West Virginia, President Trump said, “He and Kim fell in love” during their June summit. Along with that he also spoke quite cordially regarding the “beautiful letters” the North Korean leader sent him. He said “I was really tough and so was he, and we went back and forth and then we fell in love, Okay? No, really, he wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters. We fell in love.”
Ironically, Pompeo is helping to plan for a second summit between Kim and President Donald Trump. The world will observe a rapid shift in the US-Korea relations if the previously announced denuclearization timeline works. The US Secretary of State told in the aftermath of the inter-Korea summit (September 2018): the process of rapid denuclearisation of North Korea, is to be completed by January 2021, as committed by Chairman Kim, and to construct a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. Nevertheless, later he felt reluctant and said that “my comment about 2021 was not mine. I repeated it but it was a comment that had been made by the leaders who had their inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang. They talked about 2021 when they were gathered there. So I was reiterating this as a timeline that they were potentially prepared to agree to.”
Lastly, it is desired very righteously, that all the countries in the region including North and South Korea, Japan, China and the US, manage the situation diplomatically with utmost responsibility. Evidently, there were plenty of opportunities in the past when North Korean leadership expressed its willingness to talk to the world about its nuclear program and to lift sanctions and the provision of necessary economic assistance. This collaborative approach would have been effective, but regrettably the United States preferred to hurl threats at North Korea aggravating the situation further. Nevertheless, one must be optimistic with regards to the efforts made by the US Secretary of State to reinvigorate nuclear talks between the two countries.
The writer is associated with the Strategic Vision Institute and can be contacted at email@example.com
Published in Daily Times, October 13th 2018.