Denuclearization must be top goal
The world has never seen such a crisis. North Korea not only antagonizes the US, but also pours disdain on the authority of the UN Security Council. US President Donald Trump, who may have been completely confident in handling the Korean Peninsula issue before taking office, has probably become the US president most beleaguered by the issue. Pyongyang always snubs his threats and is apathetic to his praise for restraint.
More importantly, Pyongyang has no one supporting it. Both China and Russia have imposed stringent sanctions. While Pyongyang’s nuclear capability and long-range strike capacity isn’t sophisticated enough to rival Washington, neither the US nor the whole world can figure out a solution to North Korea’s nuclear issue.
North Korea has a huge disparity in strength with the US, let alone the world. But Pyongyang has reached a kind of balance by threatening Wash- ington and the entire world.
It’s no hard thing for the US and the Security Council to bring under control a country the size of North Korea. But North Korea is an exception. All the pressure hasn’t served the goal of denuclearization. Denuclearizing the peninsula is just a slogan from which a number of aims have been derived and disturbed international efforts, enabling North Korea to maneuver and maintain its nuclear development.
It is probably only China that wants denuclearization since the US has been of two minds since the start. The administrations of Bill Clinton and George W Bush have backtracked on their deals with Pyongyang, and since then North Korea has had trust in neither the US nor international negotiations.
The US and South Korea have been averse to the North Korean regime. Given Seoul’s target of peninsula unification, both countries hope to trigger civil strife and bring down the regime in North Korea. Their attempts appear evident on various occasions.
Pyongyang will want more as its nuclear development advances. North Korea started developing nuclear arms to deter possible subversion by Seoul and Washington, hence its insistence on an explicit security guarantee from Washington in early Six-Party Talks. But today, Pyongyang won’t stop at simply demanding no US attacks. It wants international rights and development opportunities commensurate with its status as a “nuclear power.”
Pyongyang, which owns nuclear weapons and missiles that allegedly can hit the US continent, has more bargaining chips.
It involves more political cost today for the US and its allies to make North Korea renounce its nuclear weapons and intermediate and long-range missiles than 10 years ago as they don’t want to adjust their old-fashioned mind-set of simply pressuring Pyongyang militarily.
The US and South Korea seek to solve the peninsula nuclear issue with little political concessions and at little economic cost. They even have other aims in this process, such as strengthening military cooperation with Japan, expanding the US global anti-missile system and denting China’s regional clout.
Northeast Asia may never go back what it was. To reach a new stable state requires all parties involved to accept some losses and pay for the turbulence of the past decade.
No one should try to be the biggest winner. Instead all should aim to compromise and prevent the worse from happening.
War is the worst scenario. Simmering tensions will destabilize Northeast Asia and put Washington in an awkward position. All relevant parties should return to their primary aims.