PN's Voice | Article by Cheong Wooksik

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PN's Voice  23. 04. 2019 
Small steps, Road to peace

New ‘Big Deal’ for “Perfect Conclusion”:  looking forward to Putin’s mediation
by Wooksik Cheong (Director of Peace Network)

Speculation about a potential DPRK-Russia summit has been fervent of late. The Russian media outlet Tass released the Kremlin’s announcement that “Vladimir Putin will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un,” and “Chairman Kim will make a visit to Russia in the second half of April at Vladimir Putin’s invitation.” No further details on dates and location was mentioned, but it is highly possible that president Putin will meet chairman Kim in Vladivostok followed by the Belt and Road Summit Forum held in Beijing, China on April 26-27th.

If the meeting is realized, Putin would be the first foreign summit to meet both chairman Kim and his father, former chairman of DPRK, Kim Jong Il. In the past, Putin visited Pyongyang to have a Summit with Kim Jong Il in July, 2000. That was the first time any Russian contingent had visited Pyongyang: even including the time of USSR regime.

Putin’s mediation in US-DPRK relations at the time is highly noticeable. One of the key controversies in terms of the stalemated US-DPRK missile negotiation was North Korea’s satellite launch issue. North Korea was willing to give up long-range missile development but determined to hold on to its satellite launch. On the other hand, the US tried to persuade North Korea to give up its space launch vehicle, warning of its possibility of misuse as a long-range missile.

Under such circumstances, Putin came up with an alternative. He offered to launch the satellite that North Korea claims it needs and discussed the concerning matter intensively with Kim Jong Il in the Summit. After the Summit, Putin publicized the results in front of the press that “chairman Kim said, he is willing to give up development on long-range rocket if other nations support and fulfill its needs.” After that, US-DPRK negotiations began to ride high, but due to regime change in the U.S. and Bush administration’s announcement to stop the US-DPRK missile negotiation, it has fizzled out.

Discussion on transferring and abolishing North Korea’s nuclear weapons in Russia

There are several disagreements between the US and DPRK on denuclearization. Amongst them is a methodology of abolishing nuclear weapons in North Korea. Last year in May, National Security Advisor John Bolton caused great opposition by demanding North Korea to hand over its nuclear weapons to the US. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who visited Pyongyang last year, made a similar demand and North Korea commented on this “ gangster-like demand.”

During the Hanoi Summit, president Donald Trump presented a ‘Definition of Denuclearization’ document, which also contained a demand of transferring nuclear weapons and materials to the US. Kim Jong Un criticized the US in his recent public address that “US came to Hanoi table racking their brains only to produce absolutely unrealizable methods.”

A reason I suggest Putin should come up with both a creative and realistic mediation is that it can be useful to end the stalemate of DPRK-US talks and make a significant breakthrough. The core of this mediation would be providing a way to transfer and abolish North Korea’s nuclear to Russia, rather than the US. Moreover, Putin checking Kim’s intention in the upcoming summit and then a process of cooperative conversation amongst South Korea, US, and China is necessary. Especially, through the process, a direct conversation with president Trump would be essential.

Of course this kind of mediation requires that the US’ key corresponding measures be included. Concerning the matter, US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun once said, “I have this perfect outcome moment where the last nuclear weapon leaves North Korea, the sanctions are lifted, the flag goes up in the embassy and the peace treaty is signed in the same hour.” in his remarks in January 31st.

His intent was that ‘Big Deal’-sanctions lifted, US-DPRK diplomatic relations tied, and peace agreement singed-can be realized at the moment of the last nuclear weapons leave North Korea.

However, never mind the conclusion, not even an introduction was written in the Hanoi Summit. This is heavily due to US’ far-fetched demands, insisting North Korea its transfer nuclear weapons to the US and abolish missiles, biochemical weapons and dual-use program in addition to nuclear weapons. Since North Korea has not yet stated its position on measures of abolishing nuclear weapons and material, North Korea itself is not free from the responsibility of summit’s failure.

Imagining a “Perfect Conclusion”

Considering all aspects of the current circumstances and discrepancy between U.S.-DPRK positions, a “Big Deal” with much creativity and reality is desperately needed. A new “Big Deal”-consisting of transferring North Korean nuclear weapons to Russia, lifting sanctions as corresponding measures, signing a peace agreement, building diplomatic relations between US and DPRK-will freshly revitalize conversation on Denuclearization of Korean Peninsula currently at stalemate.

Russia is on good terms with North Korea and as two neighboring states, they are connected via both road and rail. Also, Russia has the most abundant experience of nuclear abolishment in the world, and it also owns specialized vehicles and equipment to transfer nuclear weapons and material safely. For safe abolishment, a participation of North Korean scientists and technicians who built nuclear weapons are also essential and these persons could jointly work in Russia for the denuclearization process.

Consequently, I imagine …

“In July 27th 2020, representatives of four nations, South Korea, North Korea, US, and China signed a peace agreement in Panmunjom. Right after, four summits moved to Vladivostok and with president Putin’s warm hospitality, they welcomed Russia’s special train carrying North Korea’s last nuclear weapon. At the same time in United Nations Security Council, all sanctions on North Korea were decided to be lifted completely. At Vladivostok, president Trump declared a normalization of US-DPRK relations and Chairman Kim kindly replied. ‘North Korea’s nuclear capability has fulfilled its historical role as converting 70 years-long antagonistic relations between US and North Korea to peace. Now I solemnly declare a complete abolishment of national nuclear capability.’”

 

This article was written by Wooksik Cheong(director of PeaceNetwork) and Chaewon Moon(research assistant of PeaceNetwork.) Any individuals or organizations are free to study, cite, publish and distribute the article with a reference of PeaceNetwork website(http://peacekorea.org/zbxe/?mid=Eng_main) If you have any questions regarding to the article please contact Chaewon Moon(moonchaewon07@gmail.com)

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