This week’s Inter-Korean Summit meeting between Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean president Moon Jae-in was considered historic for a number of reasons.
For one it is reported that among others, the meeting was meant to formally end the 1950s-era Korean War by singing a peace treaty, or formally known as the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula. The Korean War was a conflict that eventually split the Korea into two countries as a result of the anti-communist hysteria during the early days of the Cold War. Armed hostilities ended in July 27, 1953 but the two new states are technically still at war since no truce has been signed.
Also of importance is the Kim’s proposal to rid the peninsula of nuclear weapons during the summit at the border truce town of Panmunjon in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The communist leader said he will invite experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States for inspection of the proposed shuttering of its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, which might happen as early as this May according to the South Korean government.
North Korea first detonated its nuclear bomb in an illegal weapon test in October 9, 2006 largely as a result of its own research. As it turned out the nuke test was Pyongyang’s leverage to receive aid in exchange for disabling this capability in a series of six-party talks involving the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan, and the United States.
Previous summits between North Korea and South Korea have taken place in 2000 and 2007 but did not bring peace between the two especially as the United States continued to provoke Pyongyang with large invasion military exercises around the DPRK.
After the April 27 summit between the two sides, United States president Donald Trump tweeted “Korean War to End! The United States and all of its great people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!” as if to imply that the Washington played a major role.
Remember that just this year the unpredictable president spoke of brinkmanship when he responded to Pyongyang’s New Year’s day speech, stating in a Tweet that “will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have Nuclear Button, but it is much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
In a follow-up statement seemingly to placate his earlier pompous assertion, Trump Tweeted that “please do not forget the great help that my good friend, President Xi of China, has given to the United States, particularly at the Border of North Korea. Without him it would have been a much longer, tougher, process!”
Conservative media outlets and pundits have even hinted that Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, just because of the president’s “tough stance” against North Korea and the pressure resulting from hard-hitting economic sanctions after last year’s series of nuclear tests. Note that the Nobel Committee is not immune to politics too when back former US president Barack Obama received the peace prize in 2010 after just a few months of becoming American president.
Although president Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are scheduled to meet in a few weeks either in Singapore, Mongolia, or South Korea. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the upcoming meetings will focus on the issue of denuclearization. For his part, US Defense Secretary James Mattis in a phone conversation with his South Korean counterpart said that the United States will maintain “ironclad commitment…using the full spectrum of US capabilities” for its ally.
Peace in the Peninsula is not welcome
And this is where issues might get complicated. Experts anticipate the DPRK’s wish list might include the withdrawal of all American nuclear-capable weapons in the region, and possibly the removal of the United States’ 28,500 troops from South Korea. This might prove to be a non-negotiable demand for Washington, which has maintained bases in numerous countries it ‘liberated’ during World War II.
As with the White House’s unacceptable sabotaging of peace in the Middle East (particularly the alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack recently), the American hunger for armed, diplomatic, and economic conflict will only continue to derail peace elsewhere, and the Korean Peninsula is no exception.
Beyond the initial euphoria for this most recent Inter-Korean Summit, the real international community must cautiously observe possible “incidents” that might “suddenly happen” and give the United States another “concern” about Pyongyang’s “sincerity” about making peace in the region.