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The Trump-Kim 'Historic' Encounter "

“Mutual deterrence,” among other things, eventually brought Washington to peace talks with Pyongyang.

The joint statement of United States(US) President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un at their Singapore Summit on 12 June 2018 characterises the meeting as “historic,” as has the media, repeatedly. But considering that this was the first face-to-face encounter between a US president and a North Korean top leader, the laconic joint statement issued at the end of it left a lot of questions unanswered. The essence of the statement was that Trump committed to provide “security guarantees” to North Korea, and Kim “reaffirmed” his responsibility to “complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.”

Yes, “reaffirmed,” for Kim did the same—committed to bringing about a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons—at his summit meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April 2018. The last clause of the third article of the Panmunjom Declaration of 27 April 2018 issued by the leaders of the two Koreas, “confirmed the common goal of realising, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.” And, for this, the two Koreas “agreed to actively seek the support and cooperation of the international community.” This is precisely what Kim pursued in Singapore and seems to have been promised a resolution.

At the press conference after his meeting with Kim, Trump disclosed that he had agreed to “stop the war games,” that is, the US’s joint military exercises with South Korea that repeatedly threatened North Korea with war. Incidentally, he also said that he hoped to bring the 32,000 US troops stationed in South Korea back home at some point. Also, there seemed to be no tall-talk repetition ofUS Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s insistence on “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization,” as if this could be achieved in one summit! What is heartening is that for the first time, the “imperialist top-dog” has acknowledged that North Korea’s security concerns are genuine. However, it has yet to acknowledge what it has been doing to the living conditions of the North Korean people through the imposition of extreme measures via the UN Security Council’s resolutions on sanctions.

Washington has de facto used the denial of food to the North Korean people as a weapon. Given North Korea’s limited amount of arable land (a large part of its land is mountainous terrain), it has to fill its food demand–supply gap through imports. But the sanctions have denied it around 90% of what would have been the country’s revenue from exports to finance such essential imports. What has all this got to do with the country’s nuclear programme, one might well ask? The malevolence, indeed, the vengeance of US imperialism has known no bounds.

We need to remind ourselves that it was US President Harry S Truman who announced on 30 November 1950 that Washington was prepared to use nuclear weapons in Korea, five years after the devastation caused by the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in August 1945. Since then, Washington has maintained the threat to use nuclear weapons against North Korea. Indeed, it has continued to practise its deterrence strategy after it “nuclearized” the Peninsula in 1958. It is such imperialist tactics that finally drove North Korea to develop nuclear weapons, with nuclear tests, in 2006, 2009, 2013, and 2016, thereby bringing in place “mutual deterrence.” Certainly, US President George W Bush’s listing of North Korea and Iran as members of the “Axis of Evil,” when he was seeking public support in 2002 for the invasion of Iraq that came the following year, left both those countries wondering when their turn for US military bombardment might come. But, even as North Korea went nuclear, it consistently made it clear that if Washington negotiated with it for peace in good faith, and provided credible security guarantees, it would trade its nukes for peace so that it could then focus on economic development and the well-being of its people.

US imperialism, however, continued to demonise North Korea, and this is what made it even more difficult for it to change course. But “mutual deterrence” seems to have finally forced the imperialist power, or at least the present incumbent in the Oval office, to consider a change in its Korea policy. One must also acknowledge the stellar role of South Korean President Moon in the peace process, and now it is up to Washington to bring about the demilitarisation and normalisation of its relations with Pyongyang. The opposition to Trump’s changing course on North Korea has come from the right in the Democratic Party and sections of the US establishment. An influential opinion piece in the New York Times claims that Trump has been “outfoxed” in Singapore. The House of Representatives “Minority Leader” Nancy Pelosi is upset that Trump has treated North Korea as an equal to the US and has also propped up the status quo over there.

Given the well-worn path that US imperialism has taken since 1950 with respect to Korea, the Singapore Summit notwithstanding, Pyongyang needs to be wary of Washington in the follow-on negotiations.

Updated On : 21st Jun, 2018

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