Denuclearization of Korean Peninsula: Post Covid-19 scenario
It was nearly two years ago when the President of the United States of America met with the President of North Korea in Singapore. This was a significant milestone for the relationship between two salient state actors of world politics because this was the first face-to-face meet up of an American President with a North Korean leader in nearly 70 years of uneasy armistice, war, misunderstanding, lack of mutual respect and nuclear standoff. Whole world has been halted due to the Corona pandemic but the leader of North Korea has been testing his missiles in a consistent basis. Post COVID-19 situation will surely create some big challenges in the issue of the denuclearization of Korean peninsula.
The nuclear proliferation of North Korea has been the center of dispute between these two hostile powers for a pretty long time. So two recent meet ups respectively in 2018 in Singapore and in 2019 in Vietnam have made some significant turn over in the whole mechanism and other issues regarding the nuclear disarmament of North Korea. Donald Trump, the President of the United States has been saying that he was the first President ever in the history of the United States of America to deal with the negotiation about true disarmament.
Though we can see so many ups and downs between the relationship of the USA and North Korea, the second meeting showed some light of hope when it was being started. Later, we observed that the bilateral relationship between Trump and Kim's administrations started to deteriorate.
The summit between the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump and the President of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un is truly an important incident of world politics because it was an unprecedented development and advancement after a year of exchanging threats from both sides. The tension rose so high that North Korea was ready to attack on the Guam Islands which is the territory of the United States located near the region of Korean Peninsula.
The pair exchanged greetings and shook hands at a hotel on Singapore's Sentosa Island before getting into the talks. After the summit we can see that the leaders signed some promising and comprehensive documents which were giving the vibe of a new mutual relationship between the two nations. Both leaders talked about how to defuse the tensions as soon as possible. The documents provided the belief that North Korea would go for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
There was another point to be taken into consideration about the assurance of maintaining a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula. Trump was deliberately talking about the 'Special Bond' with the North Korean leader and Trump invited Kim to the White House anytime soon after the conference. Kim was also giving some good vibes saying that they decided to leave the past behind and move forward for the long term betterment of the world community. It was expected to witness an epoch making the change in world politics as well as the behaviors and activities of North Korea. But we could not get to see any major changes regarding this crisis. Moreover, the tension was rising higher at a great speed. The reasons are:
* The agreement that two sides as well as two leaders signed is a vague one which does not have any detailed information.
* There was no indication about the denuclearization process and we did not have any idea if it's an irreversible one or not.
* There was no definite landmark of time when North Korea would be denuclearized.
* There was no sign of the fact that the inspectors could get into North Korea to check the nuclear program if everything's being maintained or not.
* The United States of America promised to provide security guarantees for North Korea but this point was not being clarified about how the USA was going to provide this service.
The Hanoi Summit:
The Singapore Summit of the two powerful hostile powers back in 2018 created some giddy hope for an end to the ever standing hostility between North Korea and the United States of America. This summit was expected to be a major leader-to-leader talk for resolving some of the thorniest issues such as the ballistic missile program and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. But the experts predicted that the negotiations could end anytime due to the disagreements of both in the field of sanctions imposed by the US over North Korea in a wide range of fields. Before joining the Hanoi Summit, the situation was not that bad between Washington and Pyongyang.
Trump even tweeted that Kim realized the fact better than anyone else about how his country could rise up as a great economic power without the presence of nuclear weapons. Trump also thought of the fact that Kim is a normal nationalist political leader who wants to increase and enhance the economy of North Korea getting bolstered by the United States of America. But Trump misunderstood the real intention of Kim and his administration could not make any significant turn over that could forward the talks towards the light of hope. It happened because:
* The USA deliberately failed to grasp how Kim sees the world from his point of view.
* The USA has been comparing North Korea with China, Vietnam and like any other Asian country who will catch the dose of economic proliferation instead of the nuclear program and its enrichment. This was another area of their misinterpretation about the character of North Korea as well as the Kim Jong-Un.
* The Trump administration was unable to understand that Kim has always wanted to set up a regime like the personalist dictators such as Saddam Hussain, Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar Al Assad who set up some dictatorial regime respectively in Iraq, Libya and Syria.
* Some high officials of Trump's administration like Mike Pompeo who is the Secretary of States of the United States of America have been using derogatory words to address Kim on the social media which are not readily accepted by Pyongyang as well as the Kim administration. This has also slowed down the process.
We can realize the fact that Kim Jong-Un can never be an analogous character like Den Xiao Ping of China. Kim wants to set up his authoritarian regime where he is the sole savior and the ultimate authority for the people of North Korea. He wants to maintain the legacy of his predecessors and so North Korea can never go for the denuclearization process which can enhance the threat on his territory imposed by the United States of America.
Even during this corona pandemic, North Korea has been launching short range ballistic missiles and Kim has declared again to enhance the nuclear strength of North Korea. We don't have any reliable source on which we can rely completely on the North Korean nuclear program. We only get to see the situation of Pyongyang what Kim wants us to see. A third summit must have to be initiated for the sake of the entire world as quickly as possible though it seems impossible based on the recent scenario.
The writer is a student of the Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka