North Korea has finally got what it wanted. Their leader met his US counterpart, and the meeting, according to accounts coming from both parties, appeared to be quite successful.
Pyongyang has long stressed a need for the bilateral meeting, though North Korea was a party to the famous six-party talks, also involving South Korea, China, Russia, Japan – and the USA. However, North Korean leaders insisted that all problems could be settled only in direct dialogue at two-party talks. And so it happened.
The summit ended with signing a joint agreement which, according to Donald Trump, was “very comprehensive”. Mr. Trump has no doubt that the denuclearization process of the Korean Peninsula would start “as fast as it can mechanically and physically be done” and that the relationship between the two countries was going to be “a very much different situation than it has in the past". He underlined that both sides were going to be “very impressed with the results” and that “lot of goodwill went into this, a lot of work, a lot of preparation”.
Moreover, despite recent exchange of insults, Mr. Trump went as far as describing Kim Jong-un as “a very talented man”, “a very smart negotiator” and a person who has “a great personality”. According to the US President it is a “good combination”.
Now, the two parties made a long way to the summit, each with its own goals in mind.
The aim of the United States was to ensure full and irreversible, controlled denuclearization of North Korea, as well as talking it into lifting its objections against endless US- South Korea joint exercises and military drills.
The North Korean leadership’s ultimate goal was to get reliable security guarantees for the country, its leadership and its people, along with the general improvement of relations with the US, in which case Washington should cease its sanctions pressure upon Pyongyang.
So, which goals have actually been reached? We can search for answers in the text of the agreement signed by the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the US President Donald Trump, and published by CNN.
Judging by the four main articles of the agreement, one can say that Kim Jong-un has actually managed to score some points.
First of all, “the United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity”.
Second, “the United States and DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula”. These two articles are of crucial importance to Pyongyang.
Third, “the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”. And the wording “to work toward” doesn’t exactly mean to accomplish.
Under the fourth article the DPRK committed to “recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified”, which is not all that difficult for Pyongyang.
And finally – which is most important - the document states that “President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”.
It is evident that Mr. Trump tried not to promise too much, but nonetheless he did promise something.
Now, just how realistic is the optimism expressed by both parties?
First, let’s not forget that after the summit the numbers those in the US who oppose North Korea would hardly grow less, as well as of those who oppose Trump himself. Whether the process of further development of American-North Korean relations will withstand their pressure, is a big question.
The history of the bilateral relations offers numerous cases when all attempts for positive change were smashed against the American reality.
The administration of George W. Bush’s undermined the foundations of the 1994 Geneva Agreed Framework between the DPRK and the US, drafted with much pain and effort, along with other agreements reached during Bill Clinton’s presidency.
There is also a recent Trump’s refusal to acknowledge the Iranian Nuclear Deal negotiated by the international community…
And finally, both, the South Korean people and political elite, are still divided in their attitude towards the current course of Moon Jae-in’s administration. A significant part of the South Korean society sees Moon as an enthusiastic leftist, believing his policy towards North Korea is a grave mistake at best.