Dhaka, Bangladesh
Uncertainty of nuclear talks

OFF THE TRACK

Uncertainty of nuclear talks

The prospect of resuming nuclear talks between North Korea and the United States does not look good. Washington says it is ready to negotiate with Pyongyang on a working-level whenever they are ready. Two month ago, Trump said after his meeting with Kim Jong-un at Panmunjeom that Kim had agreed to hold working-level talks “in a few weeks.” The United States is still waiting to hear from the North on when or whether they will return to the table. A possible venue for such talks can be determined after the date is set. For logistical considerations (including travel cost), the North may prefer Panmunjeom for the talks. The problem is the North is not ready. In April, the North Korean leader set a deadline by the end of 2019 to wait and see “if the U.S. changes its method of calculation,” a proposition that the U.S. drops its position seeking an early big deal by which the North would denuclearize first in return for consequent sanctions relief and security guarantees. The big deal attempt was rejected and failed in Hanoi. But, Washington has not produced a transformed version of its negotiating strategy. The North is waiting to hear that the U.S. will accommodate the North Korean proposal for a phased process with reciprocal, corresponding measures toward the end state of “complete denuclearization.” In the meantime, the North has conducted a series of provocative missile launches to test newly developed short-range ballistic missiles and long-range multiple rocket launchers, all capable of striking all of South Korea and western parts of Japan. In a letter to Trump, Kim said he would stop firing missiles after the completion of joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises drills. However, It did not stop. The North continues to complain about Seoul’s acquisition of high-tech military hardware from the U.S. and its own weapons development plan. Are they scared of South Korea’s enhancing military capability? Pyongyang’s recent diatribes against Seoul focus on South Korea’s defense build-up, which they say imposes security threats to the North. But they don’t mention that their own arms build-up threatens the South. The fact is both sides’ arms build-up is inevitably threatening each other in the absence of security dialogue and confidence building between them.

Share |