Peace on Korean Peninsula requires lasting efforts

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/1 23:03:39

South Korea and the US began the Foal Eagle annual joint military exercises on Sunday, after they were delayed about a month for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The scale of the exercises reportedly would not go beyond those in previous years, but the US reduced the number of its weapons and the drills will be shortened by half. This is considered a signal of easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula before North Korea's summit with South Korea and the US in late April and May, respectively.

For the détente unseen in nearly 10 years on the peninsula, the attitudes of relevant parties differ. Washington has presented the biggest uncertainties. While arranging for the US-North Korea summit, the Trump administration said that its maximum pressure led to Pyongyang's overture. The majority in Washington advocates continued pressure on Pyongyang.

South Korea has played a positive role in creating the thaw, but it is weak in maintaining the détente since Seoul can hardly exert influence on US hawks. If Washington goes harsh on Pyongyang, Seoul won't hold it back, but will instead be affected.

Fearful of being marginalized on the North Korea issue, Japan has greater anxiety about being embarrassed than in keeping the détente. Tokyo will find comfort if tensions arise and Seoul and Washington want its support.

It's hard to tell how much faith Pyongyang has in its talks with Seoul and Washington. The more determined the US and South Korea are in reaching a fair peace accord on the peninsula, the more expectations North Korea will hold for solving its security concerns through negotiations. Against this backdrop, although Seoul said Pyongyang found the joint drills understandable, the US and South Korea still have to keep a low-key to show sincerity.

Pyongyang develops nuclear weapons for its security. If the US and South Korea don't make concrete efforts to improve North Korea's security environment but only focus on their own security interests, the denuclearization on the peninsula will see an extremely bumpy road ahead. An agreement, if any, is unlikely to be carried out.

North Korea is forced to pay dearly to pursue nuclear weapons for a variety of reasons, such as only having a truce agreement but no peace accord on the peninsula. To completely resolve the nuclear issue requires efforts to wipe out what causes the serious insecurity Pyongyang feels and ensure a normal security environment for North Korea.

These can't be solved by a single negotiation, but entails lasting efforts from relevant parties. It's worrying that the White House does not get support from the US political system for the talks. If negotiations don't produce good outcomes and may consume the political authority of the current US government, the White House will likely change its policy on North Korea.

The vulnerable détente on the peninsula needs to be carefully maintained. All parties should stand ready for negotiations that may last long. They should work to meet each other halfway for the sake of peace and stability on the peninsula. 

Newspaper headline: Peace on peninsula requires lasting efforts

Posted in: EDITORIAL

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