Thursday, April 15, 2010

Resolving US-North Korea Nuclear Issue

A new treaty on Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms was signed recently between Russia and the United States in Prague, the Czech Republic. The treaty signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and US President Barack Obama stipulates that Russia and the United States should pare back the nuclear weapons deployed for action by approximately one-third. It is said that even if the treaty is implemented properly, as it should, Russia and the United States will still have about 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads each after seven years.

Nuclear Arms Reduction
In light of the fact that a long time has passed since the end of the Cold War and in light of the fact that the new environment in which the danger of a global nuclear war has greatly diminished, it can be said that the nuclear arms reduction has little practical significance.

Given that nuclear-armed countries, other than the two signatories to the recent treaty, have at best hundreds of nuclear warheads, Russia and the United States would still be able to retain overwhelming nuclear supremacy even if the treaty goes into effect.

It is quite natural that unlike the disarmament treaties signed during the Cold War period, the course of negotiations for signing the treaty that has just been signed and the news on the signing of it have triggered various reactions from all over the world.

The person in charge in the United States, who declared his promise to build a world free of nuclear weapons following his inauguration, has pursued the signing of a Russia-US Treaty on Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms as the first outcome of his commitment.

Pressure From Nonnuclear Countries
The United States kicked up the commotion of making the signing of the treaty a success with the intention of placating the pressure from nonnuclear countries that call for nuclear disarmament and raising its international popularity in the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation of Treaty (NPT) scheduled to be held in Washington next month.

Regardless of the background, environment, and the objective sought behind it, the latest treaty, though not satisfactory, showed that to a certain degree nuclear disarmament is possible among countries if there is confidence instead of hostile relations between them.

Witnessing the signing of the Russia-US treaty on reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms, the world is paying a great deal of attention to the issue of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula where the danger of a nuclear war is the greatest internationally.

What does the present status of the Six-Party Talks, which the wall of distrust -- called sanctions -- imposed on North Korea has kept it from being resumed, indicate? It indicates that issues cannot be resolved unless there is confidence between the parties concerned.

In order to put the process of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, which has repeatedly experienced setbacks and failures, back on track, primary attention should be paid to building mutual confidence between North Korea and the United States, the parties primarily responsible for the nuclear issue. This is the conclusion we have arrived at.

Parties to Armistice Agreement
That is the purpose for proposing to the parties to the Armistice Agreement the holding of talks at an early date to replace the Armistice Agreement with a peace agreement this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of the Korean war.

In order to build confidence between North Korea and the United States, a peace agreement should be signed first and foremost to bring an end to the state of war, the root cause of the hostile relations. The formula aimed at advancing denuclearization before discussing the issue of establishing a peace mechanism on the Korean peninsula has ended up in failure.

To speed up denuclearization by breaking the vicious circle of distrust while building confidence between North Korea and the United States, the signing of a peace agreement is the only way and there is no alternative.

The signing of a peace agreement is the only reasonable and practical method for realizing the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. There has never been a case in history, in which parties in hostilities dropped their guns before building confidence.

Denuclearization of Korean Peninsula
In a state of war, where the parties concerned have their guns trained on each other, the distrust can never be removed, nor can talks be held smoothly, let alone denuclearization. Given its peculiar necessity and urgency, the peace agreement should have been signed a long time ago independent of the nuclear issue in the first place.

Had durable peace mechanism been built on the Korean peninsula early on, neither the nuclear issue nor the issue of denuclearization would have arisen. If and when a peace agreement is signed, it would expeditiously help remove the North Korea-US hostile relations and advance the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

The holding of negotiations for concluding a peace agreement alone undoubtedly will provide an effective driving force behind the denuclearization process.

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