Contributed by Jim Hayes
It has been widely reported that he second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump came to nothing, given that they walked away with no new agreement.
Precisely what went on Exactly behind closed doors in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi may not have been revealed. What we do know, is that the sticking point has been the matter of trade sanctions. At least that is what it seems like on the surface.
Obviously, Kim Jong Un wants the sanctions removed, because they have been a major factor hampering the economic progress of his country for three quarters of a century. It is just as obvious that the United States, and Trump continues with this, sees the sanctions as a means to push own agenda
Denuclearisation means one thing to Pyongyang and something entirely different to Washington. For North Korea, progress is moving towards freeing the region, the land mass of the Korean peninsula and the waters around, it from all nuclear weaponry. The United State’s version is that North Korea must denuclearise, and the United States retains its nuclear presence.
This is the real sticking point, which has been around for a long time. And it remains, because Washington still seeks to influence the internal affairs of the whole of Korea. Until this shifts, there is not going to be any real change in the standoff.
The spin is that some good progress has been made. The truth is, the Korean leader had made a gesture of good faith by offering to dismantle its nuclear site in Yongbyon, in exchange for a partial lifting of sanctions. Donald Trump rejected this outright.
If the compromise had of been agreed to, it would have helped set the stage for further progress. The point is that this was rejected, because the United States still continues to want to maintain a standoff and exert pressure for political change.
Consequently, there was a counter demand that in order for sanctions to be lifted, North Korea must completely denuclearise and do it under the United State’s supervision. This is just not going to happen.
North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told a press conference after the walkout that his country’s proposal is “the biggest denuclearisation step we can take, based on the current level of trust between the countries. In fact, as we take steps toward denuclearisation, the most important issue is security. But we thought is would be more burdensome for the United States to take military related measures, which is why, we saw partial lifting of sanctions, as corresponding action.”
The failure to shift is a setback to making real progress on practical measures, and the blame sits, fair and square, with the United States and its leader, continuing to stick to superpower gunboat style of diplomacy. This has not worked over the years and it will not work now.
Resolving the Korean issue is an important matter for the whole world. A continuation of hostilities poses major threat to the world. To move forward, something concrete must be put on the table. The idea of starting off with lifting sanctions to bring about a more positive environment is a one on.
It would signal that the two countries are at last moving to toward dealing with each other as equals, trying to build trust, and setting the best possible conditions for progress on the big issue of denuclearisation. The world has a big stake in ensuring that sense prevails.