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The Trump-Kim Jong-un Meet: A Remarkable Moment towards Peace?

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June 12, 2018 might prove to be one of the historic moments when it comes to world politics, as,., Mr. Donal Trump, the President of the United States of America, and Mr. Kim Jong-un, the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, have finally decided to meet up in Singapore, and talk face-to-face about bettering the lives of the North Koreans and probably, to embark on a journey towards achieving peace through, what one would call as “denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula. It would be the first instance in the history of world politics that a North Korean leader and a sitting President of the United States are agreeing to have a formal meet.

The announcement as regards to the meet was made by Mr. Trump in one of his tweets, along with the venue being Singapore for the same. It, of course, is a neutral place from the perspective of both these States, however, at the very same time, Singapore also promises certain strategic advantages to both the nations. One of the few important considerations before deciding the place would have been to choose a place located nearby to Mr Kim, otherwise, the counterparts might have ended up projecting a weak offer as regards to the meet. Singapore even has sound diplomatic/diplomatically sound relations with North Korea since 1975, and DPRK even has an embassy present in Singapore. From the perspective of the United States of America, most importantly, Singapore has stood as a trusted ally, and is also willing to provide with the modern security equipment and apparatus, apart from the flashy amenities, which is obviously going to be a very important concern during the landmark Summit.

The present article shall//is an attempt to analyse the farce discussions and talks that have taken place in the past between North Korea and the international community, the promises that were made in the past as well but eventually ended up getting failed, the circumstances necessitating the need to have the upcoming Summit, takeaways for both the countries from the Summit, how should the two countries go about the upcoming negotiations, and the future repercussions that could possibly arise out of the Summit.

Kim Jong-un’s Tenure and the Deceptive Promises

It was in 2011 when Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il, passed away, and as a result of which he took the leadership of the country. There were speculations regarding his leadership, both with respect to the positives and the negatives that he could bring along during his tenure. It was strongly believed then that his young age, the experience that he was carrying in his blood, and the dynamic education are the potential factors that would affirmatively assist towards nation’s welfare in all avenues s. There have been reports and instances in the past projecting that Kim Jong-il was grooming his son as regards to the succession of the throne, being one of the important purposes. He used to accompany his father to inspect several military units, apparatus, facilities, etc., in addition to that, he even began assuming several high positions with responsibilities, both as a political as well as at a military level.

His initial few years into leadership rendered all the positive speculations naïve. His impulsive actions, including declaring a state of emergency immediately after his father’s death, further consolidated the views against his tenure’s fruitful success. He was in his 20’s when he became the Supreme Leader of DPRK, and at that very moment, the country was in tremendous turmoil, as on one hand, it had a rickety economy as people were not even in the position to feed themselves properly, while on the other hand, the country was still fighting its battle to regain prestige and legitimate recognition from the rest of the global community by wanting to enhance its military and nuclear capabilities. Not only this, but also that it was very unlikely at that point for the Korean people to accept the second rule of dynastic succession without displaying any protest, that too under a young leader, as leaders in the past were able to have some influence over the North-Korean populace only because of their age, experience, and maturity. This, up to a great extent, could have resulted into possible repercussions such as huge instability in the country, and therefore probably leading to a large number of refugees wanting to flee, mass defections, etc.

But as we believe that a good leader is a one who has a vision in his mind, ability to work towards it and to achieve it, Kim Jong-un might just fit aptly in this definition as well. His very first speech addressed to the people of North Korea, on the day of his grandfather’s birthday, left no stone unturned in displaying his resilience and the vision in making DPRK more strong & prosperous as per the global trends of the 21st century. He had a roadmap aimed towards strengthening his country’s military capabilities and reforming its crippling economy. He gave significant emphasis upon reunification with South Korea during his speeches back in 2012. It was then when he also acknowledged the pain and sufferings that the people had to experience as a result of the separation between the two nations for so many years. He took a pledge in regards to not letting his citizens die of hunger again, something which portrays his audacity to admit the mistakes that his party has made in the past years.

Well, he has been able to proceed on that line of thoughts up to a great extent. Under his tenure, North Korea is at its most powerful and dominating position, in comparison to what it has been in other periods. He has impeccably led DPRK to possess a very advanced nuclear programme, as well as a tactical military system, capable of tackling the modern warfare technologies. He has already carried out 4 nuclear tests, out of which the biggest and the most destructive bomb is what is believed to be of 100-150 kilotons. Apart from this, he has not only tried around 100 ballistic missiles but has also tested the Intercontinental Ballistic missiles, that are capable of reaching the mainland United States.

From an economic perspective, he has obviously given significantly more attention to the economic issues than his father and grandfather. There have been some unostentatious policy decisions introduced in order to boost up the economy. In order to avert the food crisis which the country has been facing for over two decades now, certain agricultural reforms were introduced, giving larger degrees of autonomy to the farmers. Also, Special consideration has been given to the creation of several Special Economic Zones, in order to attract foreign investment. Even though Kim seems to be running on his plans, there is still a long way to go, as these measures By no means have been able to influence the lives of the majority of its citizens

Additionally, there has been a plethora of farce promises made in the past concerning the DPRK’s intention to look out for peace. In fact, There is an entire series of events that can give us a determined pattern of promises being made, and then broken through threats. North Korea and South Korea came to an agreement in 1992, and signed the Joint Declaration as regards to the Denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, an obligation upon both the States not to test, manufacture, produce, receive, store, deploy, or use any kind of a nuclear weapon. Then, in 1994 as well, the DPRK agreed to put an end to its nuclear programme in return of an aid, as a part of a deal signed with the then US President, Jimmy Carter. South Korea has been demanding peace in the region since long, still, amidst of all these deals and goodwill incidents, North Korea still continues to develop its nuclear arsenal secretly. This has led to nothing but more and more of western sanctions against the country, imposing it in a tougher position than before.

In 2002 as well, the then US President, George W. Bush without any hesitation acknowledged the situation at a global level, indicating that North Korea is spending more on its defence capabilities even more than feeding the stomachs of its citizens. Still, that did not seem to ring any bell in the mind of the Supreme Leader. Finally when North Korea admitted having a clandestine nuclear programme going on, attracted the condemnation of not only the international community but also of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Things got out of control when North Korea decided against resolving the situation in a pragmatic manner. rather, in 2003, it withdrew its support from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Since then, there have been several instances of DPRK accepting to have nuclear weapons, and then on very same lines promising to abandon the same as well. However, the reality is well before us to be scrutinized.

The Upcoming Summit

The upcoming summit between the two head of the States on June 12 certainly raises plenty of questions, the primary one being regards to feasibility for the two countries to have a meeting, provided the fact that it was not long ago when Kim Jong-un threatened with a nuclear attack, and even the Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles. This raises concerns and speculations with respect to what actually Trump or Kim Jong-un would want from the meet.

Both the leaders have their own essence of charismatic appeal, and it is indeed going to be a delight as to how the talks take place. On one side, you have Donald Trump, who is considered to be a ‘deal-cracker’. Even though there are concerns regarding his ‘not-so-experienced’ diplomatic team, in addition to the left of the Expert on North Korea, he has clearly shown his intentions to continue and go ahead with the meeting. People who have worked with him claim this to be very difficult as he is a kind of a person who reads his briefs only when they are short in size, and in fact, are actually read out to him. On the other hand, you have the Supreme Leader of DPRK, who has come a long way fighting for his country’s prestige and has finally been able to seize an opportunity for achieving something in the direction of world peace. His recent endeavours, specifically reuniting with South Korea, gives a very strong indication of his intentions that may be, he has finally decided to step down in order to free itself from the harsh economic sanctions that his country has been facing.

However, as cynical it might sound, but Kim Jong-un would not easily let his military capabilities go away. If the USA is aiming towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, it is imperative to consider that, Kim Jong-un would also try his level best to retain his nuclear arsenal, as well as will also try to get the sanctions lifted back.  though it’s going to be a tough negotiation, however, there is a certain element of commonality present from the perspectives of both the nations and one thing can be ascertained that this element is going to comprise the major portion of the upcoming negotiations. The element that we are talking about here is the ‘denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.’

Denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula

Although this covers a substantial part of the negotiations, it still stands to be a secondary issue in the queue of discussions. Mr. Moon, who has been assigned the responsibility to mediate between the United States of America and North Korea, argues/believes that the process to reach an agreement, with DPRK ending its nuclear programme followed by the United States guarantying security arrangements including a peace treaty, is not going to be tough/is manageable. At the same time, it would not be imperative to ignore the interests of South Korea into the entire dialogue. South Korea wants to follow a sequential process, wherein the primary phase/sequence shall comprise of ‘freezing’ up of North Korea’s nuclear programme, followed by the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

I think this approach, of having the entire negotiation bifurcated into two distinct segments, i.e., primary and secondary shall/may yield more fruits. However, the same seems to be very difficult as for every time the USA asks something pertaining to denuclearisation from North Korea, the counterpart might ask for reciprocal incentives, which the United States of America might not be able to offer at the moment’s notice. with regards to the same memory, it reminds me of an article by Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, wherein he very beautifully laid down a map for denuclearisation with the help of a few steps.

As per Michael, the first step should be freeze testing. This shall include the freezing of the testing as the name explains, as well as the production of nuclear weapons. However, this step of the process has already been initiated by North Korea earlier this year. The second step would be of capping. This shall require North Korea to shut off all of its nuclear facilities, followed by providing a database comprising data of all the sites & facilities, and allowing the inspectors to inspect all the possible sites pertaining to the same. The third step shall include the dismantling of infrastructure, which is primarily being used to produce enriched uranium and plutonium, such as centrifuges, reactors, etc. The fourth and the final step shall focus on disarmament. This shall require North Korea to extricate its existing fissile material, and be sending the nuclear warheads out of the country. It is this step’s success that should probably convince the United States to lift off the economic sanctions against North Korea. Until then, it is very crucial/ obvious for the States to maintain its dominance and strictness in terms of the imposition of sanctions against North Korea because of the strong leverage that it gives to the US over North Korea. Once this process is finished, Trump can then focus on the demilitarisation of the Korean Peninsula, and a possible Peace Treaty between Washington and Pyongyang, if at all that comes to the table.

The entire idea is to acknowledge the fact that immediate denuclearization is not possible with a country like North Korea, and especially a leader like Kim Jong-un. Hence, only a systematic, well-planned and a structured approach shall lead the USA to get its demands fulfilled. Kim Jon-un is mainly aspiring for a reasonable time to enhance its nuclear capabilities, and hence, this meet is a desperate opportunity for DPRK as well. This summit needs to be dealt with high caution and care, even a slightest of distortion can again render the peace process into shambles and hence, ineffective, therefore, we shall all come back to the same position again, or may be even worse.

May the diplomacy prevail!

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