THE Singapore meeting between the leader of the DPRK Kim Jong-un and the president of the Untied States Donald Trump on June 12 was a landmark event. The joint statement issued after the summit committed the United States to provide security guarantees to the DPRK while Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his commitment to the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
The steps to be taken to achieve this have to be worked out between the two countries in the coming days. But the basis for such a negotiation has been set by the DPRK dismantling its nuclear test site and calling a halt to its missile rocket tests. In response, President Trump announced the stoppage of the annual joint military exercise by the US and South Korean armed forces.
The phrase “denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula” does not mean only denuclearisation by the DPRK but will also apply to the nuclear weapons and delivery systems on US naval ships, submarines and aircraft which visit South Korea.
The Singapore summit and the joint statement came in the wake of the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration between the leaders of the North and South Korea. This declaration has announced measures to de-escalate tensions and promote connectivity and economic ties between the two sides. The support extended by President Moon Jae-in of South Korea to the process of dialogue and détente between the two Koreas has been a crucial factor in the Singapore summit.
Kim Jong-un has been in close consultation with President Xi Jinping of China and got Chinese support for his historic endeavor as seen by his two trips to China before the summit and his third visit afterwards.
The Singapore summit is a triumph for Kim Jong-un and the DPRK. For the first time, the head of North Korea met a US president on equal terms. The significance of such an event cannot be understated. The United States and the DPRK are technically still at war. In 1953, after three years of war, the armistice agreement led to a cessation of hostilities. But there has not been a formal end to the war and the peace treaty.
In the Korean War, the US had unleashed massive carpet bombing on the North Korean cities which killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. More than two million Korean people died in this war. This explains the unrelenting opposition to the US military presence in the Korean peninsula.
Since then the United States had turned South Korea into a military fortress with 45,000 troops stationed there at the peak. At present there are 32,000 American troops posted there. Contrary to what the Western media propagates that North Korea has time and again reneged on agreements, the fact is, it is the United States that has gone back on agreements. The last being the agreement of 1994 when the United States had promised to supply two light water reactors and fuel for them in return for North Korea stopping enrichment of uranium and closing its sole nuclear reactor. Though North Korea complied with its part of the agreement by dismantling the nuclear reactor and allowing IAEA inspectors, the US failed to deliver its part of the agreement. Neither the light water reactors were supplied nor the sanctions lifted.
This agreement was signed when Bill Clinton was the president, but his successor, George Bush decided not to proceed with the agreement. On the contrary, Bush after the September 2001 terrorist attack in the US declared Korea as part of the “axis of evil”. Since then the United States has been trying by various ways to isolate and destroy North Korea.
It is to meet this threat that the DPRK under Kim Jong-il began to rebuild its nuclear technology and develop a nuclear bomb. His son Kim Jong-un has taken it forward with the development of long range missiles. From their standpoint this was the only way to secure the country from imperialist blackmail.
It is only after displaying its capacity to deliver nuclear warheads through long-range missiles that the Workers Party of Korea in its third plenary meeting of the 7th Central Committee held in Pyongyang on April 20 decided to discontinue nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic rocket test fire from April 21, 2018. The resolution adopted also declared that the nuclear test ground would be dismantled, to transparently guarantee the discontinuance of the nuclear tests.
It must be noted that the ruling party of the DPRK took this considered decision in order to pave the way for talks with South Korea and the United States. The Panmunjom Declaration and the Singapore summit were an outcome of this.
As far as the American side is concerned, Trump’s role at the Singapore summit has been met with widespread criticism at home, especially from the Democrats and those who represent the “liberal-imperialist” order. But for the world as a whole there is cause for cautious optimism that a breakthrough for peace in North East Asia is possible.
(June 20, 2018)