In what might be the most crucial development of this year so far, President of United States Of America Donald Trump has accepted an invitation for meeting over North Korea’s nuclear program with its Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. The message was conveyed via South Korea’s National Security Advisor Chung Eui-yong, who had met Kim earlier this week in Pyongyang which resulted in this invitation. This is described as one of the most audacious diplomatic maneuvers on part of the North Korean leader who has called for a one-on-one meeting with a sitting US President, something which has never happened before. President Trump took it to Twitter, announcing that it is not going to be just about halting DPRK’s nuclear program but the goal will be to achieve permanent denuclearization.
However, the economic sanctions will remain intact until an agreement is reached. The meeting is in the planning phase for now and most likely to take place in May, he added. It will be interesting how the meeting if it happens, ends up since both the leaders are known for their strong will and unorthodox skill of name calling instead of composing nature in dealings. But there is no denial of the fact that it has a high degree of significance for the peace of the world in general and that of the people living on Korean peninsula in particular.
While it is certainly an encouraging indication and a triumph of diplomacy, which was pushed to back seat since President Trump became the president, the skepticism on part of US still exists. This is because the precedent has not been so encouraging in this regard. North Korea has agreed to freeze its nuclear and missile program many times before already in the past. It started off with what was termed as “Agreed Framework” by President Bill Clinton when North Korea agreed to terminate its nuclear program and allow inspections from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors in 1994.
In return, US was to provide North Korea with annual oil supplies and transfer of civil nuclear technology for energy purpose. But in 2002, during the presidency of George W. Bush Jr., North Korea revealed that they have been running a secret nuclear program and that the “Agreed Framework” is nullified from their side. In 2005, another round of negotiations took place and North Korea once again pledged to stop uranium enrichment for the purpose of making a nuclear bomb. The USA guaranteed security and economic assistance but once again it proved to be a hoax as DPRK tested its nuclear device a year later.
Due to this outrageous and blatant violation of diplomacy norms, USA punished North Korea with crippling economic sanctions. In 2012, a new leader Kim Jong Un, after the demise of his father Kim Jong-il, initiated a new round of talks. Consequently, “Leap Day Agreement” was announced in which Pyongyang once again stated to terminate its missile program and uranium enrichment in exchange for food supplies. But just in a matter of 16 days, there was another nuclear test followed be several ones until this day. Owing to these examples in past, experts are still mulling over the possibility if this meeting would actually take place or not. And if does happen, will it result in something concrete on which the hope for a peaceful world could rest?
The negotiations between North and South Korea went underway at the end of last year and both Koreas even agreed to participate in the winter Olympic held in Seoul under a unified Korean flag. The reason it was very difficult for President Trump to decline the offer was that Russia has been the mediator in the peace talks between two Koreas. Though in the past he might have called Kim “Little Rocket Man” and threatened him with the nuclear button but letting Russia dominate the regional play once again would have been way too costly.
The USA has a front already in the middle-east where in Syria, Iran is consolidating the ground with the help of Russia. Iran backed militia is already holding strong ground in Iraq. With every passing second, US is losing grip on the affairs in Syria which means that Iran might get an access to the Mediterranean Sea via Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. If that happens, the Gulf States which are United States’ largest buyer of weapons would feel frustrated and ultimately they would push the US for a decisive action. There is too much on US’s plate right now and letting Russia drive the affairs in Korea would not have been a smart move. Therefore, President Trump had to accept this offer from Kim Jong Un.
The history of agreements between the two states is not very encouraging but the possibility of a nuclear strike also resides if the tensions between the two are allowed to linger on. For the stability of world order, it is very important that diplomacy defines the developments in the best interest of people here rather the size of nuclear buttons.