U.S.-N. Korea summit should aim for road map for denuclearization

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe complete and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea should be realized in a verifiable way. Whether a road map that stipulates concrete measures and deadlines for that goal can be drawn up will determine the outcome of an upcoming historic meeting.

The first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit is now scheduled to be held on June 12 in Singapore. U.S. President Donald Trump emphasized that he and his counterpart “will both try to make it a very special moment for world peace.”

Trump once showed an interest in holding the summit in Panmunjom, where a summit of the South and North Korean leaders was held. Holding a U.S.-North Korea summit on the Korean Peninsula would give the impression that the United States has made concessions and given the initiative to North Korea. It can be said that Trump’s decision to choose a third-party country by attaching importance to neutrality was wise.

To prepare for the upcoming summit, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korea and held talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who serves as the chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea. The dialogue and confidence-building efforts that have been made between the United States and North Korea can be considered a welcome move.

The fact that three U.S. citizens who had been held in North Korea were released and returned home with Pompeo also seems to have been a key factor for a U.S.-North Korea summit to take place.

Kim expressed expectations to Pompeo over what is set to be a historic meeting. Kim’s acceptance of holding a summit in Singapore is a type of decision never made by his father, Kim Jong Il, who held the title of the party’s general secretary. Kim Jong Un apparently aims to resolve the long-standing hostile relationship with the United States all at once through top-level face-to-face negotiations.

Abe must liaise with Trump

Both Trump and Kim have set “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” as the goal of the summit. The problem, though, is that what that means differs for each of them.

The United States intends to make North Korea abandon its ballistic missiles and all of its weapons of mass destruction, including biological and chemical weapons, within a set period. This requires North Korea to make declarations on its nuclear weapons, nuclear materials and related facilities and dismantle them, and for the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct inspections and monitoring operations.

North Korea is unlikely to comply with these steps easily. There is no doubt that it will take action for denuclearization in stages, and demand such things as the easing of economic sanctions and the guaranteeing of its regime in return each time. It is possible that North Korea will call for the removal of the “nuclear umbrella” that the United States provides to South Korea.

Declaring “denuclearization” or “the end of the Korean War” alone does not mean North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats will be removed. It is imperative to draw up a road map for denuclearization and continue applying pressure on North Korea until the country actually implements it. Trump must not rush simply in pursuit of success.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he strongly expects the upcoming summit to be “an opportunity for moving forward on the nuclear issue, the missile issue and the abduction issue, which, above all, is the most important.”

By having talks with Trump at the summit of the Group of Seven major nations on June 8 and 9, Abe must elaborately coordinate regarding the stances taken by Japan and the United States.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 12, 2018)Speech


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