By Ock Ju-won KT Co-editor
The United States has consistently demanded that North Korea stop its nuclear weapons program before demanding immediate compensation such as economic benefits. As a result, about 30 years of effort has not produced any clear results on North Korean denuclearization. Accordingly, the necessity for the U.S. to abandon its long-standing approach and come up with a new corresponding measure is on the rise.
President Park Jae Kyu, a former South Korean Minister of Unification is one of those who support a parallel approach that could be a more effective method to ensure the North's complete denuclearization. For this subject, President Park had an interview with The Korea Times about a parallel approach of North Korean denuclearization last December.
◦Description and background of the parallel approach of the North Korean denuclearization
The parallel approach refers to the U.S. and North Korea building trust in the progress of denuclearization negotiations by making comprehensive agreements on denuclearization progressively and simultaneously. A comprehensive agreement could have positive effects on normalizing relations, along with the end of the North Korean nuclear program. During the 2018, North Korea–United States summit, between former U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump committed to guaranteeing the safety of North Korea, and Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Nevertheless, North Korean denuclearization has been at a loss for nearly 30 years because trust between the two countries is in a state of absence. North Korea has consistently refused to negotiate its final state of nuclear disarmament with Salami tactics to maximize economic rewards from the international community. In addition, whenever the presidential administration changes, the U.S. has maintained a strong stance that North Korea must denuclearize first in order to accept corresponding measures according to the bilateral agreement.
I fully understand that denuclearization negotiations should proceed in exchange for security guarantees for North Korea, but I think it is time for a new approach. Otherwise, neither will make concessions in the current situation.
◦Expectations and prospects of U.S. Foreign Policy on
According to a statement by the North Korean leader's sister Kim Yo-jong who urges a halt to hostile policies toward North Korea and to resume denuclearization talks on July 10, North Korea could be brought back to the negotiating table if the U.S. government took the initiative in confidence-building measures and sanctions relief.
Actually, the current U.S. President Joseph Biden is concerned about North Korea, which has repeatedly defied U.N. resolutions against the totalitarian state's ban on ballistic missile technology, and as such Washington might not ease sanctions on North Korea. In addition, unlike Trump, who pursued a political legacy through summit diplomacy between North Korea and the U.S., the Biden government is concerned that the North Korean denuclearization issue will not be prioritized due to the current COVID-19, economic downturn, and China. Nevertheless, the Biden administration must recognize the spirit and content of the 2018 North Korea–United States summit in Singapore, regardless of what political approach they take on the North Korean nuclear issue. If the Biden administration denies the Trump administration's achievement, the states between the U.S. and North Korea will inevitably fall into a long and difficult stalemate. Thus, this will come as a heavy burden not only to North Korea but also on U.S. international diplomacy.
◦ The Role of South Korea in normalizing North Korea-U.S. and inter-Korean
Whenever North Korea felt ignored by the U.S. government, they always brought tension to the Korean Peninsula to emphasize their existence. Such provocations have always brought negative consequences to U.S.-North Korea relations and inter-Korean relations, so the U.S. government needs to speed up its efforts to deal with North Korea and appoint a special advisor on North Korea policy. Plus, it is important for South Korea to act as a mediator for a healthy recovery of the U.S.-North Korea diplomatic relations. So far, North Korea has negotiated with the Trump administration, so North Korea must be worried about future negotiations with the Biden administration. Therefore, South Korea should be interested in drawing up a plan to guide the new U.S. government and North Korea to a forum for continued-dialogue as soon as possible.
Heavily due to the North Korean destruction of the Inter-Korean Liaison Office, and some sharp words toward the South Korean government, the ignoring of South Korean demands for public health and economic cooperation for the COVID-19 pandemic, relations between North and South Korea rank the lowest level since the launch of the Moon Jae In Government. Hence, North Korea may not immediately participate in any North Korea-U.S. or Inter-Korean talks. Though, as Kim Jong Un said, "I hope to meet after the health crisis," it is highly likely that a meeting between the two Koreas as well as between the U.S. and North Korea will proceed. So then, it is time to discuss with the new U.S. government when and how to resume the North Korea-U.S. agenda as soon as possible.
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