South Korean President Moon Jae-in has
embarked on a dangerous gamble, analysts said, after he secured only
minimal concessions from Kim Jong Un to reboot the North's nuclear
negotiations with Washington.
Moon flew to Pyongyang this week for his third summit with Kim seeking a
concrete gesture to rekindle the stalled denuclearisation talks between the
United States and the North.
But he returned Thursday with agreements that fell far short of US demands
for a final, fully verified denuclearisation of North Korea.
The South Korean leader prioritised Seoul's trust-building process with
Pyongyang over denuclearisation, said Shin Beom-cheol, an analyst at the Asan
Institute of Policy Studies.
It's a dangerous gamble, Shin said, adding that Seoul's emollient
approach could facilitate efforts by the North to hold on to its nuclear
South Korea will be blamed if Pyongyang does not denuclearise, he said,
adding: It will put cracks in its alliance with Washington and Seoul will
Moon, who also met the North Korean leader in April and May this year, was
instrumental in brokering the historic Singapore summit between US President
Donald Trump and Kim in June.
Kim backed the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula after meeting
Trump, but no details were agreed and Washington and Pyongyang have since
sparred over what that means and how it will be achieved.
� 'Sleight of hand' �
At the Pyongyang summit, Kim agreed to permanently close the North's
Tongchang-ri missile engine test site and launch pad under the eyes of
Analysts quickly dismissed the promise, saying the facility was outdated
and no longer needed as the already existing missiles were produced
The North Korean leader also offered to take further steps such dismantling
the country's best known nuclear facility in Yongbyon, if the US carried out
Pyongyang is believed to have produced its plutonium at Yongbyon, which is
also known to house a uranium enrichment plant.
But Sung-yoon Lee of the Fletcher School at Tufts University noted that
Yongbyon has been mothballed before, only to be reactivated when negotiations
with the US fell through.
The closure of Yongbyon, even were it actually to take place, does not
mean a major concession for Kim has alternate means to building more bombs by
enriching uranium, Lee added.
Kim had already declared the North's nuclear development complete and the
moves were a sleight of hand for ensnaring the US which will enable Kim
to buy more time and money with which to perfect his own nuclear posture,
Lee told AFP.
Rather than shuttering outdated testing facilities, North Korea needed to
provide a comprehensive list of its nuclear assets, said Cha Du-hyeogn of the
Right now it's just offering to showcase known facilities and that's
unacceptable, he added.
� Trump-Kim: Round Two �
The US welcomed Kim's latest promise, saying it was ready for immediate
talks aimed at denuclearising the North with Trump quickly tweeting: Very
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo whose visit to Pyongyang last month was
abruptly cancelled by Trump � also praised Kim's important commitments and
offered to meet his North Korean counterpart in New York, but analysts noted
that Washington was acting with caution.
The issue is whether Pompeo will return to North Korea but that's not
immediately happening, Cha said.
But maintaining the momentum for denuclearisation talks was vital, said Kim
Heung-kyu, a professor at Ajou University, calling the Pyongyang statement a
very significant achievement.
The new impetus will be a relief for Trump who is embroiled in multiple
scandals ahead of the US midterm elections in November, he noted, saying
developments with North Korea will help divert attention.
Moon probably convinced Kim by telling him that there was not a lot of time
left until Trump's political interest drifted elsewhere, he added. If it
wasn't for this, both Kim and Trump would not have budged.
The biggest challenge may come soon, if the two mercurial leaders reunite
for a second headline-grabbing meeting.
Moon said after his Pyongyang trip that Kim was hoping for another summit
with Trump at an early date.
The real problem is Trump himself is eager for a follow-up meeting with
Kim, said Lee of Tufts University.
That will entail more concessions, he added, such as further relaxation
of sanctions enforcement and normalisation of Kim's image and stature.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)