When former President Bill Clinton tried to weasel his way out of admitting some facts in relation to his affair with Monica Lewinsky, he laughingly said at one point that his lying depended on what one’s definition of “‘is’ is.” While that made more than a few people shake their heads and smirk, it is not nearly as funny when nuclear weapons and world peace are the topics needing defined. As MSN News asked today, what does “denuclearization” mean as it relates to North Korea?
This is going to matter a great deal since when North Korean despot, Kim Jong-un, meets with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in, this is going to be topic number one (even if not addressed in that order). CNN is fond of using the term and even President Donald Trump has talked denuclearization. China’s state-run media has published stories saying that the D.P.R.K. is willing to talk about the option, but does the word mean the same thing to all parties involved or is it “irreversible?”
Moon was all but ecstatic that N.K. did not demand that U.S. forces depart the peninsula in order to talk, a fact that many pundits are said to be skeptical about.
“North Korea has been saying all the right things … they want this summit to occur and they’re doing what it takes to make it happen,” opined Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists.
Kim Jong-un has said nothing concrete about the topic and it has not appeared on their state-run media to any notible degree. However, the world has not seen the temperamental leader railing against those who have made the claims, so it clearly isn’t something that he stands against.
“It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearization on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong Il,” Kim has said on March 27, as Chinese news outlet Xinhua has confirmed.
The United States and South Korea define denuclearization as “…CVID — complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of the North Korean program,” according to Josh Pollack, the senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
Alluding to the infamous dishonesty that flows from N.K., Australian Prime Minister and diplomat Kevin Rudd said, “Unless there is independent monitoring … any unilateral undertakings by the North Koreans will probably not be worth the paper they’re written on.”
Here is the problem: “to Kim, denuclearization applies to the whole peninsula, which includes the South.” North Korea feels that if they are losing their right to nuclear weapons, then there should be none on the whole of Korea proper. David Maxwell, a retired US Army Special Forces colonel and a fellow at the Institute of Korean American Studies observed this even before Moon’s statements on the matter were given.
“They really are threatened by superior American and South Korean military power, they need nuclear weapons to try and prevent an invasion in their view,” observed Pollack, voicing the concerns from the North Korean perspective. “They feel the need to equate their nuclear program with the (US and South Korean) military alliance and claims the military alliance is a nuclear threat, when there’s no real grounds for that.”
There does seem to be grounds for that, according to the Hermit Kingdom’s leadership, since the U.S. could not like another country’s wargames being conducted near California or New York City, for instance. This has long been a point of contention between N.K. and other nations.
Pollack added, “The pessimistic interpretation is that Kim is intent on making concession after concession in private to show Moon that he is the reasonable one, with the expectation that Trump will ultimately be unable or unwilling to deliver.”
Adam Cathcart, an expert on North Korea at the University of Leeds in the UK, said that it is a “utopian, really pie in the sky” fantasy to imagine that Kim Jong-un would ever give up his nation’s nuclear ambitions.
Pollack showed similar concerns as he said, “They will affirm the principle of denuclearization as they did in 2005. And the implementation will be drawn up and never happen.”
Will talks lead to greater peace? When England’s Neville Chamberlain spoke to Hitler, he was given promises that were never kept and disaster was the outcome. Russia’s Stalin found the same thing to be true as talks with the German leader were thought to be constructive and honest.
However, the Irish (I.R.A.) and the English quit bombing one another after years of turmoil almost overnight when talks took place. The Cold War ended and peace with Russia was achieved thanks to what President Ronald Reagan was able to do during talks similar to these needed today, also.
Donald Trump is quite the dealmaker, so hopefully, this will end as it did when Gorbachev sat where Kim will soon sit. That, however, remains to be seen.