News Analysis |
In the first-ever announcement from Pyongyang itself, via state-owned Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), President of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, declared to halt nuclear and ballistic missiles testing from now on. The development came somewhat as a surprise as he went on to state that in a bid to demonstrate North’s seriousness in the said intentions, it will be dismantling the only known Pyunggye-ri nuclear site, which DPRK used to conduct all 6 of its nuclear tests in the past.
The announcement was welcomed from leaders all over the world including President of United States Of America Donald Trump, who tweeted, “North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World – big progress! Look forward to our Summit.” Terminating the program and dismantling the nuclear site is still far from US demand of a complete denuclearization, but an announcement such as this one before the most anticipated Kim-Trump meeting in late May has reinforced the hopes of a breakthrough.
US troops from South Korea and North Korea dismantling it’s existing nuclear arsenal, both prospects seems highly unlikely at the moment but still, Kim’s announcement of bringing an end to the research program for nuclear and ballistic missiles is interpreted as a trust building measure.
Throughout the world, response to the announcement has been welcoming but countries such as Australia, Britain, and Germany want to see the words taking shape of an action. Precedence in this regard has not been very promising in the past as North Korea has vowed on multiple occasions to step back from its nuclear ambitions, but has backtracked its own promises every time.
Reason, for which Kim cited to put a full stop to further testing of nuclear weapons, and their delivery mechanisms, is that his country has been able to achieve a feat which will allow the future generations to live “most dignified and happiest life on earth”. After Pyongyang went ahead with its 6th and last nuclear test back in November 2017, a fierce exchange of words took place between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
As both the world leaders are considered to be of an instinctive nature, the looming threat of nuclear fallout was thought to be as imminent as during cold war days of the 1960s. However, matter started to take a positive discourse when in his New Year’s speech of 2018, Kim hinted toward the possibility of negotiations with the South, followed by a surprising development of a summit, convening to bring leaders of the United States and North Korea to the dialogue table for the first time in history.
North Korea has pursued “byunjgin” policy for years, which aimed at simultaneous economic and military development. It is pertinent to mention here that Kim’s discontinuation of further nuclear test or even termination of the program does not guarantee denuclearization at all. In his address, he gave no such indication, but hinted otherwise by terming the nuclear weapons he possessed as “treasured sword”.
Terminating the program and dismantling the nuclear site is still far from US demand of a complete denuclearization, but an announcement such as this one before the most anticipated Kim-Trump meeting in late May has reinforced the hopes of a breakthrough.
North Korea has always maintained its nuclear and missile program to be a deterrent toward US aggression and demanded the complete withdrawal of US troops from the Korean peninsula. The stakes against which DPRK went to achieve the status of a nuclear state will make it very difficult for it to give up something which has taken years of toiling as a result of economic sanctions.
As North Korea has reached the pinnacle of military strength which it has longed for decades, now is the time of focus on the socio-economic development. This is the reason why experts are skeptical about the permanent denuclearization of the Korean peninsula as Kim will use the power in hand as a leverage to secure greater economic interests of its people from here on. An inability to export iron ore, seafood, textiles and coal which are abundant in North Korea has kept its people impoverished as compared to their southern neighbors who enjoy a much better standard of living comparatively.
Now, when Kim has built its own nuclear bomb, it can focus all his energies on the development of a strong economy. Withdrawal of US troops from South Korea and North Korea dismantling it’s existing nuclear arsenal, both prospects seems highly unlikely at the moment but still, Kim’s announcement of bringing an end to the research program for nuclear and ballistic missiles is interpreted as a trust building measure, requisite before the negotiations.