Pyongyang prioritizes security assurances over sanctions removal / News / News agency Inforos
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Pyongyang prioritizes security assurances over sanctions removal

It is time for the third countries to join the negotiation process on Korea

19.03.2019 17:34 Yuri Alekseev, international observer

Pyongyang prioritizes security assurances over sanctions removal

Insistent statements about the failed second US-North Korean summit and the very idea of this dialogue that have been recently coming from all sides, are not about the failure, but about Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump having a lot more opponents than friends or just idle fence-sitters.

It has to be pointed out here that in just a little over a year, there have been so many positive results achieved on the Korean Peninsula and around it as the former leaders of the countries directly involved in the Korean problem discussions could never even imagine.

Actually, Trump did not provide Pyongyang any real guarantees of the North Korean system's security. He was never going to do so, seeking to begin with sounding out the situation and trying to find a common denominator with the unusual interlocutor without even striking a blow – just by promises of a good life.

And the American President was not able to ensure such guarantees to Kim Jong-un, and for Pyongyang this is the most important issue, not the sanctions. His inability is brought about by the fact that both North Korea and Trump himself still have more enemies than friends or just idle fence-sitters not only in the US, but throughout the West. The very system of North Korean power, no matter how it is interpreted by modern historians and politicians, remains unacceptable to the West. Socialism in the North Korean style with missiles and nuclear weapons is too much of a good thing...

Eventually the second summit saw Kim Jong-un doing the same thing any leader of any state would be obliged to do in his place. In response to Trump's demands to disclose all his secrets and virtually all his weapons, the North Korean leader emphasized that the country's sovereignty is unshakable. And this, in his opinion, is the only starting point for further negotiations... if, of course, the White House is indeed prepared to conduct an inclusive peaceful dialogue with Pyongyang, particularly on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The entire Korean Peninsula, not just North Korea. Or on any other options to ensure the country's continued existence.

By the way, Pyongyang and Washington have other equally important issues on the current negotiating agenda. For instance, the future of inter-Korean relations, the Korean Peninsula. The entire atmosphere of Northeast Asia depends on this tremendously, including the security of Japan.

But here, Trump does not have enough goodwill. South Korean sources claim that the American President has recently explained his position in this respect to Seoul: the development of the inter-Korean process cannot proceed regardless of the solution to the North Korean denuclearization problem.

This has been Washington's response to a statement by South Korean President Moon Jae-in on his intention to continue efforts of reaching out to North Korea, despite the lack of positive results after the second US-North Korean summit.

But Moon Jae-in, like any leader of any country, cannot ignore the fundamental principle of South Korea's safe existence, e.g. friendly relations with the United States. The fierce South Korean opposition would never let him do so, since it is waiting for an opportunity to accuse Moon of betraying national interests and put him behind bars.

This is a great difficulty of the situation involving Korea. A small positive thing is perhaps a recent statement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the American administration still intends to continue negotiations with North Korea.

The White House is well aware that the pronouncement by North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui about Pyongyang's dealing with the issue of future negotiations with the United States, this can be referred to as ordinary probing of the United States' future plans. For this very reason the Secretary of State chose to clear himself in the eyes of Pyongyang. In reply to Choe Son-hui's words about the creation of "an atmosphere of hostility and distrust" by National Security Advisor John Bolton and Pompeo himself, the Secretary of State said that the North Korean diplomat was "wrong."

At the same time, Choe Son-hui stressed that Pyongyang can stop the dialogue on nuclear disarmament if the American side fails to make concessions and give up on a political reckoning. The official informed that the leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un will soon deliver an address on this matter

Pompeo's answer to this was: we will continue negotiations.

The logic of the situation suggests that third countries directly interested in a peaceful resolution of the North Korean problem, such as China and Russia, should become actively engaged in the negotiation process. Trump is known to prefer the help of Beijing in this regard. But the raging US trade war with China does not let him count on any real help from that country.

Kim Jong-un has obviously made an important choice: he places reliance upon Beijing's protection, and the latter has apparently promised Pyongyang support (and not just political) in case of a sharp aggravation of the situation in Korea. Another question is whether China will prove able to defend the interests of its "younger brother" alone amid such a complex political and economic struggle with the United States?

Developments are approaching a block format onward and upward. As for Russia, it still shows "non-aligned thinking". But Moscow only seems to be sort of staying out of the fray. In fact, it pursues its own interests and still seeks to fine-tune the interests of all the parties involved both in addressing the Korean problem and on a broader scale – in all of Northeast Asia and the Pacific.

It seems that for everyone it would be better to stop now, freeze the situation to a certain extent and ponder over the future steps. All the more so as opportunities for this do exist after all.

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