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Jeju Forum Alumni Newsletter
Titles [Jeju Forum Alumni Newsletter] (No.8 | December 2018) Reducing Tension and Building Confidence in the Korean Peninsula
Writer JPI  (admin)
2018-12-05 오후 5:50:40

 

 

This session focuses on areas to build confidence on the Korean Peninsula in light of the Panmunjom Declaration. Discussants talk about approaches to build confidence as well as mechanisms to deal with challenges and buffer and buttress such a process to ensure difficulties do not erode support for the agreements.

 

The following are excerpts from the final report of the Jeju Forum 2018. 

 

 

 

 

Moderator

Sonja BACHMANN Teamleader, Northeast Asia and the Pacific, Department of Political

Affairs, Asia and the Pacific Division, United Nations

 

 

  

 

Speaker

Robert CARLIN Visiting Scholar, CISAC, Stanford University

BAEK Jong Chun Chairman, The Sejong Institute

Glyn FORD Director, The Track2Asia/Former Member of the European Parliament

CHENG Xiaohe Associate Professor, School of International Studies at Renmin University of China

 

● Sonja BACHMANN Following the Panmunjom Declaration, both reducing tension and building confidence on the Korean Peninsula have become serious matters. These measures can lead to the denuclearization of North Korea. The two Koreas consider the Declaration essential for providing security guarantees. Therefore, it should be implemented accordingly. In regard to building a peace regime, which is the ultimate goal to be achieved, the Declaration lays out ways to enhance political and military confidence in detail. When focusing on building trust, the two Koreas should probably start with low-level arms control, and then if possible, move on to the gradual reduction of each other’s armed forces. As trust builds over time, the tension will further de-escalate on the Korean Peninsula. Under such circumstances, relations between the U.S. and North Korea can be normalized. Simply put, the completion of the normalization process will be a prerequisite for bringing about a stable peace regime. All of these suggest that everything must be coordinated carefully. Let us start off by assessing the Panmunjom Declaration in detail. Without the proper implementation of the measures stipulated in the Declaration, reducing tension and building confidence on the Korean Peninsula simply will be impossible. Therefore, how will the Declaration get implemented?

 

● BAEK Jong Chun The Panmunjom Declaration between the two Koreas led to the U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore. On the basis of reducing tension and building confidence, North Korea’s “complete denuclearization” will be exchanged for a U.S. security guarantee. Through the Panmunjom Declaration, the two Koreas agreed to construct a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
As the peace regime develops on the Korean Peninsula, a formal peace treaty can be negotiated and signed on the grounds that “complete denuclearization” actually takes place. However, signing a peace treaty alone does not guarantee lasting peace. Even after signing a treaty, the process of building a stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula must proceed. The prospect is looking good at the moment. Previous agreements with North Korea were made at the working level. On the contrary, recent agreements were made by the leaders themselves at the highest level possible. They still need to work out the specifics. Of course, Pyongyang will need some time to come up with the details. Once the timetable is set up, successful denuclearization will be highly likely. The issue of verification will remain a big problem. Washington should have shown strong leadership in the past. This time, I demand that the U.S. show strong leadership. China must show leadership as well.
As the peace regime develops on the Korean Peninsula, a formal peace treaty can be negotiated and signed on the grounds that “complete denuclearization” actually takes place. However, signing a peace treaty alone does not guarantee lasting peace. Even after signing a treaty, the process of building a stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula must proceed. The prospect is looking good at the moment. Previous agreements with North Korea were made at the working level. On the contrary, recent agreements were made by the leaders themselves at the highest level possible. They still need to work out the specifics. Of course, Pyongyang will need some time to come up with the details. Once the timetable is set up, successful denuclearization will be highly likely. The issue of verification will remain a big problem. Washington should have shown strong leadership in the past. This time, I demand that the U.S. show strong leadership. China must show leadership as well. ​

 

● Sonja BACHMANN Similar to inter-Korean relations, the relations between the U.S. and North Korea must improve as well in order to reduce tension and build confidence. However, it seems like Washington only cares about denuclearization. What can we learn from the past experiences?

 

● Robert CARLIN Since I am more of a carpenter or a cabinetmaker, I like dealing with details, but other panels have been more conceptual. Currently, we are Intellectually constipated. We must be prepared to go beyond the norm. The gap has been too wide between Washington and Pyongyang until now. But, the speed that we are witnessing right now should be an indication of what is possible. The process will be slowed down inevitably at some point. Considering this, we should take bigger steps and do things sooner.
There is a lot of momentum on the North Korean side. The U.S. has tendencies to slow things down when there is widespread skepticism, and this must be avoided. Let North Korea continue to make progress for us. Governments have hard time coordinating. In order to move things forward, all implementation steps are crucial. We have to stop being obsessed with the concept of denuclearization and, at the same time, keep in mind that this is a much broader process. Denuclearization is important for sure, but it is not the only thing that needs to move forward. In regard to the implementation process, there have been multiple failures in the past. However, these failures should not be considered the same.

The Agreed Framework did not fail. Instead, it was deliberately murdered it is a mistake to call it a failure. Negotiators spend a lot of time putting words on paper. Unfortunately, those who implement have a hard time understanding them. Implementing is much more complex than negotiating, and we must figure out how to integrate the two together. Lastly, it would be misleading to think that complete verification is possible. It is simply impossible! North Korea is not a conquered country. It is a sovereign state and a matter of sovereignty will come into play. We will have to settle for less somehow.


● Sonja BACHMANN What are the roles of so-called the “Big 4” countries, particularly the U.S. and China?

 

● CHENG Xiaohe We are still in the early stage of exploring key actors’ true intentions. We are moving to a good direction, but I am not sure whether North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons. Why did North Korea refuse to make new commitments at the Singapore Summit? Despite this, I believe that Washington and Pyongyang can have a breakthrough on major issues through high-level discussions. At this point, the basic framework for denuclearization is absent. Accordingly, clarifying key concepts will be very important. The two leaders must reach a minimal consensus. For example, what does CVID mean exactly? For the time being, this is more important than the implementation process. There are many lessons to be learned from the past failures. First of all, Washington and Beijing must show leadership. The U.S. once believed that China should spearhead the efforts to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea. More importantly, the process should not be a zero-sum game. The U.S. and China did not—and still do not—trust each other. When playing zero-sum games, it is extremely difficult to cooperate.
With respect to the unification issue, the two Koreas will continue to lead the way, and both the U.S. and China will play a supporting role. When it comes to the denuclearization issue, Washington and Pyongyang will play a leading role, while the roles of Seoul and Beijing remain confined. Russia and Japan will be included in the process later on, but they will play only supportive roles. Other members of the international community such as the European (EU) have a very limited say in this matter and will be so for the foreseeable future. Fi-nally, it is important to remember that securing more participants does not necessarily guarantee bringing about good results.

China’s role in dealing with North Korea has been evolving since the early 1990s. China had nothing to do with the Agreed Framework. China then joined the Four-Party Talks. Subsequently, China began to host the Six-Party Talks. China became a resolution enforcer, thereby punishing its own ally. Nonetheless, Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un met three times up until now and signaled that they have good relations, their friendship remains unchanged, and Beijing will assist Pyongyang along the tumultuous way. In other words, if North Korea really needs help, China will be there. It is evident that China will play a more important and active role.

 

● Sonja BACHMANN What can the international community do? Are there any lessons from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or other agreements? Moreover, what should we and North Korea expect from one another?

 

● Glyn FORD How did we get to this point? There are two threats to North Korea: external (i.e., the U.S., South Korea, and Japan) and internal. South Korea spends more than North Korea’s entire GDP on its military. Therefore, for North Korea, its nuclear weapons can trump everything. Kim Jong-un wants to retain his nuclear arsenal while developing his country’s backward economy, but he will be unable to do so. This is exactly why he wants CVIG. Chairman Kim wants to kick-start North Korea’s economy. We are in a sweet spot at the moment. Pyongyang is prepared to move very fast and far. We must focus on things that could further encourage North Korea to denuclearize.
For North Korea to feel sufficiently safe, a U.S. security guarantee and the entailing peace settlement should be endorsed by the UN Security Council. This endorsement by the Security Council will make any new agreement with Pyongyang more multilateral in nature similar to the JPCOA, which then would be more resilient and stronger compared to the Agreed Framework. The international community has to share the financial burden. At the same time, there should be some burden-sharing arrangements in the political arena. For instance, the EU could reengage North Korea through a human rights dialogue.
The North Koreans will want something like two light-water reactors, which would be funded mostly by South Korea. Of course, under President Trump, the U.S. will not pay a single penny. In order to develop its economy, North Korea will need help in mitigating the chronic energy supply shortages. For this particular reason, I believe that Pyongyang’s big demand will be connected to energy.
We have to make reasonable demands. North Korea is sanctioned today due to its nuclear, missile, and space programs. The international community also expressed grave concern over North Korea’s current human rights situation. If Pyongyang wants sanctions relief, it will have to comply and roll back these programs. What could North Korea expect in return? There will be a U.S. security guarantee, sanctions relief, and normalization of relations. Moreover, there will be humanitarian and development assistance.
Throughout the entire process, they have to communicate with one another. One of the problems with the Agreed Framework was that the promised Liaison Offices in Washington and Pyongyang were never established. Opening Liaison Offices therefore should be prioritized this time. These Liaison Offices will play a key role in managing the problems and disputes that may arise between the two countries.
For North Korea to feel sufficiently safe, a U.S. security guarantee and the entailing peace settlement should be endorsed by the UN Security Council. This endorsement by the Security Council will make any new agreement with Pyongyang more multilateral in nature similar to the JPCOA, which then would be more resilient and stronger compared to the Agreed Framework. The international community has to share the financial burden. At the same time, there should be some burden-sharing arrangements in the political arena. For instance, the EU could reengage North Korea through a human rights dialogue.​

 

Policy Implications

 

• Even after the inter-Korean and Singapore summits, the basic framework for denuclearization remains absent. Prior to discussing the implementation process, several key concepts such as CVID should be clarified.

 

• Although all previous negotiations with North Korea failed, there are lessons to be learned from them. It is imperative that both the U.S. and China actively take charge of the denu-clearization efforts this time.  

 

• The Agreed Framework and JPCOA will serve as good guidelines when making new agreements with Pyongyang. The key is to make them multilateral by getting them endorsed by the UN Security Council.