Future of North Korean nuclear program

By Beenish Altaf

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, recently showed his willingness to have a second summit meeting with the United States President Trump. However he conditioned the offer that he will only cooperate if the US will remove international sanctions against his country, otherwise the North Korea will be left with no choice then to return to the nuclear option.

The North Korean leader in his New Year Day’s speech said that “he is willing to meet the United States president at any time for the betterment of our international community. However, if the United States does not keep its promise in our international community and misinterprets our patience and intention and continues with the sanctions, then we have no choice for the sake of our national interest and peace of the Korean Peninsula but to come up with new initiatives and new measures.”

Previously, the same country that was once annoyed strongly against a state, cause of its nuclear buildup, was impressed from its diplomatic twist to the extent that it decided to change its decisions favoring it. At that time point in time, President Donald Trump reversed its decision of military exercises with South Korea by calling it as “waste of money”.  That happened in the backdrop of a Summit held-in between the US and North Korea on June 12, 2018 in Singapore. Since the Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong welcomed the meeting open-heartedly, the role of the country, was fairly vital in carrying out parlays among both the leaders, North Korean Kim Jong-un and the US Donald Trump. Critically it was believed to be the first remarkable deal in many years among both the countries. Regarding its agenda, largely denuclearization was on the top most priority list in the summit.

Despite the fact, that some were anticipating the results of the deal quite positive as a step building good relationship between the US and North Korea, likewise others were apprehensive of it. Paradoxically, the country habitual of military solutions, is evidently foreseeing a “good feeling” for North Korea this time; with reference to the June’s summit.

The Rodong Sinmun of Pyongyang on the other hand said that “broad and in-depth opinions would be exchange to establish a permanent and peaceful regime in the Korean Peninsula and to solve problems that are of common concern, including issues to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Formerly relationship of the US and North Korea has remained on the edge and tensed to the extent of transferring harsh and threatening statements to each other at the state level. It was followed by several missile tests from North Korean side, who up till now conducted six nuclear tests too (the latest of which was in September 2017). North Korea offered a frightening and alarming demonstration over the precedent months of its capability to deliver warheads, using missiles that could easily strike South Korea, Japan and the United States territory. It was actually exasperated by the US plan of installing anti-missile defence system in the South, which resulted in further evoked concerns in the North Korean.

Pakistan always condemned North Korean nuclear ambitions because it damages the global objective of making Korean a nuclear weapons free peninsula. More precisely, all that Pakistan wants is peace in Korean Peninsula. It was always desired that all the countries in the region including North and South Korea, Japan, China and the US, manage the situation diplomatically with utmost responsibility.

However, if look with the lens of a victory, several conclusions could be drawn including: a durable peace is anticipated as the best outcome as North Korea is now trying to develop good ties with South Korea. The top leader, Kim met President Moon Jae-In and discussed areas of mutual interests. Besides, the next summit could be a step-up for international community’s disarmament goal that is the denuclearization of Korean Peninsula, ironically, the time frame of which cannot be measured at this point of time. Another gain for North Korea could be the removal of sanctions from the American side that will be a further aid in the development of good bilateral relations. However, till present there is nothing substantial outcome as the US is stick to its military presence in and around Korea likewise the North Korea is also stuck to its condition of removal or lifting of sanctions first before any solid step towards dismantling its nukes.

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Beenish Altaf

Beenish Altaf is working as a Research Associate at the Strategic Vision Institute, an Islamabad based think tank. Her areas of research are nuclear non-proliferation and strategic issues of South Asia. She has a masters degree in Defence and Diplomatic Studies from Fatima Jinnah Women University.

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