::: KNSI : Korea National Strategy Institute :::
::: KNSI : Korea National Strategy Institute :::
       February 27 2021
The Road to Denuclearization on Korean Peninsula and Strategic Necessity of Dialogue between North a by Bohyuk Suh
The Road to Denuclearization on Korean Peninsula and Strategic Necessity of Dialogue between North and South Korea

Bohyuk Suh (Research Fellow of KNSI, Ph. D)

North Korea recently submitted the nuclear program declaration to China, the chair country of the six-party talks, on 26 June, and destroyed the 5MW-cooling tower at Youngbyon on 27 June. In turn, the U.S. government started to take actions implementing the agreement of six-party talks, ¡°The US will begin the process of removing the designation of the DPRK as a state-sponsor of terrorism and advance the process of terminating the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act with respect to the DPRK.¡± Both President Bush and the North Korean Foreign Ministry welcomed the measures and urged respectively nuclear disarmament and the principle of ¡°action for action.¡±

The Lesson of Realization of North Korea¡¯s Nuclear Disablement: ¡°Action for Action¡±

The latest agreement is expected to have a positive impact on both countries, with the U.S. having succeeded in putting North Korea into the stage of nuclear disarmament and North Korea being open to the possibility of cooperation with international community and also improve the relationship with Washington. President Bush said that he welcomed Pyongyang¡¯s action, at the news conference held right after the North submitted its nuclear declaration on 26 June. On the other hand, North Korea demanded U.S. ¡°to withdraw its hostile policy toward North Korea fundamentally and completely,¡± referring the measure to lift two sanctions, said the spokesman of the foreign ministry of DPRK on 27 June when the North blew up its Youngbyon cooling tower. In short, the completion of the second-phase action of North Korea (the disablement of nuclear facilities and the submission of nuclear declaration) was possible because both North Korea and U.S. had observed the principle of ¡°action for action¡± and had patiently maintained dialogue. By the decision of the U.S. government to remove Pyongyang from the list of states which sponsor terrorism, the U.S. President should submit the issue to guarantee Pyongyang¡¯s measure not to support terrorism, within 45 days. And then both countries can export and import and IMF can support North Korea. Also thanks to the termination of application of the Enemy Act, the freezing of North¡¯s property in U.S., international financial trade and the operation and the admission of insurance of North Korean shipping become possible. The effect of these measures, of course, is symbolic by easement of the limit of North Korean market and the weak competitiveness of North Korean goods. In addition, the U.S. sanctions toward North Korea stay in effect in the wide range, like the sanction of the Security Council of U.N. against North Korea, which is imposed because of communism, violation of human rights, and nuclear experiment.

Nevertheless, if those two measures mentioned above are implemented and preceded to the phase of nuclear abandonment within the term of Bush administration, the political relations of Pyongyang and Washington could be changed qualitatively. If so, ¡°the directly related parties will negotiate a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula at an appropriate separate forum,¡± as it is clear on the joint statement of 9 September, 2005.

On the other hand, the abduction issue will be a variable in the relationship between North Korea and Japan. President Bush added, ¡°The United States will never forget the abduction of Japanese citizens by the North Koreans.¡± And North Korean and Japanese governments had the administrative talks on normalizing relations between the two countries and had ¡°constructive and serious dialogue.¡± According to the message from the Japanese side, ¡°North Korea did not say the abduction problem as ¡®a matter settled¡¯,¡± implying that the positive stream between two countries had produced. In this way, there is possibility to approach in the ¡®substantial¡¯ problem-solving stance. Regarding this, U.S. Secretary of States Condoleeza Rice, visited Japan to attend the G8 summit talks in Tokyo, met Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and they agreed to ¡°cooperate closely¡± for the abduction issue. On this, State Department Spokesman Tom Casey said, ¡°we will support the efforts to solve the abduction problem of Japan.¡± The relationships between North Korea and U.S. and between North Korea and Japan will be developed by the process of denuclialization, but it gives suggestion that the two bilateral relations can have different speed.

The Strategic Meaning of the North-South Dialogue

In this prospect, how South Korean unification and security policy should be proceeded? Until now, the government¡¯s direction for the related policy is presented as ¡®denuclearization-open 3000¡¯ and the strengthening of Korea-U.S. alliance. The policy toward North Korea is disappeared due to the conflict over the import of U.S. beef and mutual distrust between North and South Korea. The government should decide that it will develop its policy toward North Korea with how much importance and which direction in preparing for the realization of denuclearization on Korean Peninsula and the order on the Peninsula in post-denuclearization era.

Korea had played the role as the facilitator to maintain the momentum of the six-party talks until it reached the joint statement of 9 September 2005. Also it has done its role like suggesting the idea to destroy the cooling tower for the denuclearization of North Korea. It raises expectation to play an active role on the idea and the way of nuclear abandonment by the close discussion with related parties including U.S..

It should be noted that the contribution of South Korea for the denuclearization should be combined with the active response toward the change of order on Korean Peninsula. It is because the discussions in and out of the six-party talks on the phase of nuclear abandonment of DPRK include political discussion about the change of system on Korean Peninsula with the way to establish the peace regime, as well as the discussion of denuclearization. If South Korea does not prepare for the change of order on Korean Peninsula expected after the denuclearization, it could be behind the environmental change within the area. The worst scenario reflected that concern is the normalization both between North Korea and U.S. and between North Korea and Japan, and the continued confrontation between North and South Korea. That means the perpetuation of the division of North-South Korea by the neighboring powerful countries in the name of the stability on Korean Peninsula, and then the South Korean government at the time could bring the disgrace to its history.

On that account, the government should pump air to resume North-South dialogue and catch the opportunity and suggest the meeting ahead. It needs to deliver its will to talk, support and respect ¡®in principle¡¯ about the two summits¡¯ joint statements of 15 June, 2000 and 4 October, 2007, with making the appropriate use both public or private methods. Considering the separation of the principal respect for the two summits¡¯ joint declaration and its specific implementation, it is possible to resume the North-South talks for expression of principal respect and to discuss the specific implementation with the North in the proper level¡¯s North-South meeting.

Until August, the chance and time to contact each other are not insufficient. It is worthwhile to examine to create atmosphere for a dialogue between the authorities, delivering these will through the six-party talks, the opening ceremony of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, nongovernmental channels of North and South Korea and the establishment of secret channel, and to express the position to urge the resumption of North-South dialogue publicly on the speech of Independence Day of Korea(15 August). If these efforts bear fruit, it could prepare the ground to promote the ¡°North-South relations of life together and mutual prosperity¡± through the resumption of the dialogue between North and South Korea in the second half of the year and participate actively in nuclear abandonment of DPRK and construction of the peace regime on Korean Peninsula.

It is imperative for South Korean government to think strategically by resuming North-South talks, the omni directional diplomacy for the neighbor countries in East Asia and in particular approaching with prospect for the future order on Korean Peninsula over the nuclear issue. This is why I raise the strategic meaning of a dialogue between North and South Korea.
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