New era, no more war: Two Koreas agree on complete denuclearization
"South and North Korea affirmed their shared objective of achieving a nuclear-free Korean peninsula through complete denuclearization," reads the declaration signed by the leaders of the two countries, as cited by Yonhap.
“There will be no more war on the Korean peninsula, and a new age of peace has opened," the document adds.
The two sides also agreed to hold multi-party talks, involving the US and China, in their push for a full-scale truce. Pyongyang and Seoul are also to have high-level military talks in May.
In an ambitious statement after the signing ceremony, Kim said he hopes that the two Koreas will reunite. The states separated after the WWII and have remained hostile since the Korean War ended with an armistice, rather than a peace treaty, in 1953.
“Terminating the current state of the truce and establishing a firm peace regime is a historic task that [the two Koreas] can no longer delay," the leaders pointed out.
The latest attempt to ease tensions in the region comes after years of UN sanctions against the North for its repeated nuclear tests and missiles launches. Previous attempts to sit with Pyongyang at the negotiations table were made in the format of ‘Six Party Talks,’ but those many rounds gave only a temporary break in exchange for fuel aid. In 2009, the North withdrew from the negotiations and resumed nuclear tests.
The thaw in intra-Korean relations began ahead of the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea. In January, the two countries met for much anticipated talks, the first in two years, and shortly after the nations formed a joint women’s ice-hockey team and marched under a unified banner at the Olympics opening ceremony.
The rare show of unity came after months of mounting tensions in the region, including through third parties such as the US. Washington has threatened Pyongyang with “fire and fury,” sent its military armada to the region, and frequently held war games there – much to the anger of North Korea.
Summits between the leadership of the two countries are not unique, having occurred in both 2000 and 2007. This meeting has an obvious territorial deference, as the North’s leader crossed the border for the first time in more than half a century.
There is another key difference between this engagement and previous summits, however – Pyongyang has now managed to successfully develop much more powerful weapons.
“The DPRK [North Korea] came to this summit as a holder of thermonuclear weapons and intercontinental [ballistic] missiles,” Vladimir Khrustalev, an expert on North Korea’s missiles and nuclear program, told RT.
However, the declared denuclearization has no set time limits and the North is not going to bargain its arsenal away for mere promises, the analyst believes.
“In modern conditions, the rapid and irreversible elimination of real military nuclear potential in exchange for only ‘a paper with signatures’ would be a delayed suicide,” Khrustalev stated.
Still, the main outcome of the summit is that the two Koreas showed their commitment to easing tensions in the region and bilateral unwillingness to “be a consumable material for US foreign policy.”
Despite US President Donald Trump hailing the results of the talks, the peacemaking process on the peninsula does not meet the general ‘divide and rule’ principle, researcher and Asia specialist Dr. Tim Beal believes.
“Despite what Trump says, the US is unhappy about talks,” Beal told RT. The two Koreas making peace is “not welcomed in Washington, but of course they can’t admit that.”
The US leader is expected to meet his North Korean counterpart in the near future following months of harsh rhetoric between the two. Trump branded Kim “little rocket man,” receiving the famous “dotard” insult in return.
It is still hard to say what will come from the first meeting between the US president and North Korean leader, and although it will be “a great step forward,” it should not be overstated, according to Beal.
“Trump thinks he is going to a surrender ceremony…that is not going to happen,” Beal said. “Nothing will come of it. The United States is not really ready to negotiate with North Korea and the prospects for breakthrough at this meeting are fairly low.”