After the landmark Singapore summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, observers are cheering its fruits. Unfortunately, it is not easy to predict whether those fruits will lead to an everlasting peace between North and South Korea. The key to the end of the decades-long conflict is total denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. This, however, seems impossible, despite the North’s declaration that the dismantling process is going on.
Since when leaders of both countries started to meet, they have never ceased to say that they have good faith that everything is going as they wish. If so, is Kim Jong Un really ready to relinquish the nuclear weapons program? Is there any chance for peace agreement success?
Does Kim Jong Un want an end to the Korean war?
It seems that the so-called young dictator is ready to overhaul his country. If the peace agreement becomes successful, one of the outcome will be a passage from an isolated militarized state to an economic state. The question will be if Kim is ready to sacrifice what his dynasty has tried to achieve and welcome peace.
Historically, it is not the first time that North Korea stated that is going to give up its nuclear program. As a matter of fact, in 2005 North Korea tentatively agreed to abandon its entire nuclear weapons. In exchange, the United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea would provide energy assistance to North Korea as well as promote economic cooperation. Kim is not ready to sacrifice the program. Instead, he may be trying to deflect the international community’s attention on nuclear issues.
Is Pyongyang scared of what happened to others?
Indeed, this is one big reason why North Korea is not too eager to denuclearize. The experiences of what happened to other countries is a major challenge which is likely to prevent denuclearization. Ukraine, Libya and Iran are good examples, after their denuclearization none of them became safer or prosperous.
In the case of Ukraine, Russia broke up its 1994 pledge to “refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine” December 5, 1994 Budapest memorandum. Two decades later Moscow annexed Crimea. And played a big role in the civil war.
In 2004, the United States and the United Kingdom dismantled Libya’s nuclear weapons infrastructures with the oversight from the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA). Western countries applauded the decision of Muammar Gaddafi for relinquishing his weapons of mass destruction. Seven years later, the Libyan leader Gaddafi was toppled with a high support of the same countries that had applauded his decision.
Eventually the Iranian case, after being the white house boss, Donald Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action(JCPOA). That landmark pact was signed under his predecessor, Barack Obama. According to Trump the deal was defected in its core. Withdrawing from the deal has tattered the Iranian economy.
It will be a tough task for Donald trump to convince Kim Jong Un to relinquish what his lineage started.
The Kim dynasty and the nuclear weapons.
The history of the nuclear weapons in North Korea can be traced to the cold war. It was under the regime of Kim Il Sung (Un’s grand father) that North Korea started to build nuclear reactors. “Are you short of arms?”- according to The Times, Stalin is reported to have asked Kim Il Sung. “We will give them to you. You must strike the southerners in the teeth.”
The nuclear works started when North Korea established agreements of cooperation with the Soviet Union. Earlier in 1961, Moscow provided extensive technical assistance to Pyongyang in constructing the Yongbyong Nuclear Research Center. But the agreements —based on atomic energy agreements — had been signed in 1950s. Despite the Soviet assistance, North Korea invested in education and research institutions to support its nuclear program.
Why is there a chance for an agreement?
According to what both leaders— American and North Korea officials— say, there is a chance for agreements, but to what extent? By analyzing their words, on one hand they are political and on the other hand are promising.
“We had a great, great visit this morning,” President Trump sent his regards to Kim. “And we had a very successful morning, so thank you,” US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said after his recent visit to Pyongyang. Kim Jong Un said on the same occasion “It is a very nice day that promises a good future for both our countries.”
As both countries are saying to be on the same height of waves, it doesn’t mean that the near future will be impeccable. North Korea’s progress can’t confirm if there is a will to abolish all its nuclear weapons. Don’t get distracted by shiny objects as all aren’t gold. Time will tell and history will pave its own road.