by Bernhard, originally published on Moon Of Alabama, June 12, 2018
The photo-op summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea went well. The visuals show North Korea and the United States as equal partners.
The atmosphere was cordial.
Both sides won.
The signed document is short. The core part:
Convinced that the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:
- The United States and the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
- The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
- Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
- The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
Both sides commit to implement the above “fully and expeditiously“. Further talks will be held at the Foreign Minister/Secretary of State level.
This is not a deal, just a declaration. The ‘denuclearization’ commitment by the DPRK is aspirational. There is no equal commitment from the U.S. side. There is no time frame. As predicted the DPRK will not give up its nukes. It had good reasons to build them and the same reasons will let it keep them.
As long as talks are ongoing the DPRK will likely hold off on further nuclear and long range missile tests. The U.S. will likely stop large scale maneuvers in and around Korea. This is the ‘freeze for freeze’ which North Korea long wanted and which China and Russia actively supported.
Further talks between the U.S. and North Korea will be slow walked and may not lead to significant progress in nuclear disarmament. Their main purpose is to hold off the U.S. while the real talks that between North and South Korea continue. This is what the “efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula” are really about.
It is disappointing that the terrible human rights record of the United States was not mentioned during the talks.
The North Korean side played its cards exceptionally well. It built its capabilities under enormous pressure and used it to elevate the country to a real player on the international stage. The “maximum pressure” sanction campaign against it is now defused. China, Russia and South Korea will again trade with North Korea.
In pressing for an early summit Trump defused a conflict that otherwise might have ruined his presidency.
The losers, for now, are the hawks in Japan, South Korea and Washington who tried their best to prevent this to happen. The winners are the people of Korea, Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. Special prizes go to President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and to Dennis Rodman who did their best to make this happen.