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Revitalizing North Korea Talks With U.S. After Failed Hanoi Summit

“North Korea is proposing a ‘nuclear-free zone of the Korean peninsula,’” he said. It’s a concept first introduced by Kim Il Sung 30 years ago.

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President Donald Trump hands a pen to South Korean President Moon Jae-In during a signing ceremony for the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement during the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in New York. VOA

South Korean President Moon Jae-in heads for Washington Wednesday, where he will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday. Moon said previously he hoped his trip to the United States will revitalize stalled talks with North Korea that collapsed after Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to reach an agreement during their February summit in Hanoi.

Harry Kazianis, director of Korean Studies at the Center of the National Interest, told VOA Moon’s Washington trip serves two purposes.

First, Kazianis said, Moon “wants to make sure that the talks [between Pyongyang and Washington] continue.”

He said the “bare minimum” Moon needs to accomplish during his trip is “to keep both sides sort of engaged” and “smooth over” any rough patches.

“I think what he’s really going to try and do is to see if both parties can split the difference,” said Kazianis.

That’s something that may be possible. Speaking last week on the televised news program CBS This Morning, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said diplomatic channels remained open and there had been ongoing “conversations after Hanoi about how to move forward.”

In addition, Pompeo said he was “confident” there would be a third summit between the two leaders, possibly in the coming months; however, he gave no details.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during their meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Oct. 7, 2018.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during their meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Oct. 7, 2018.

​Cheon Seong Whon, a visiting research fellow at The Asan Institute for Policy Studies, was not as optimistic about fruitful discussions with Pyongyang.

“[The United States] cannot dampen the mood on talks; therefore the emphasis on [Pompeo’s] positive remarks,” said Cheon. “I do not think they are seriously considering that North Korea will give up their nukes [because] North Korea has never said that they will stop nuclear and missile development.”

Sanctions relief

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has advocated for inter-Korean projects as a way to further peace on the Korean peninsula. These efforts include reopening the joint industrial complex in Kaesong and resuming tours at Mount Kumgang, but doing so would run afoul of international sanctions.

Pompeo said economic sanctions on North Korea would not be lifted until Pyongyang abandoned its nuclear weapons; nevertheless, local South Korean media reports that Moon will propose easing sanctions on North Korea when he meets with President Trump.

“Kim is obviously not going to fully denuclearize right away,” said Kazianis, noting that the United States would probably not drop its sanctions against North Korea if Kim made a “small move.”

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Pompeo said economic sanctions on North Korea would not be lifted until Pyongyang abandoned its nuclear weapons; nevertheless, local South Korean media reports that Moon will propose easing sanctions on North Korea when he meets with President Trump. VOA

Therefore, Kazianis envisions a situation where the United States would temporarily drop sanctions if North Korea would completely abandon the Yongbyon nuclear facility.

“That allows both sides to continue on in the process, and I think that’s something Moon can do,” he said.

Cheon is unsure an easing of sanctions will bring about the desired results on the peninsula.

“From 1991, when the North Korean nuclear issue began, to the current sanction, the [South] Korean and U.S. governments have participated” in a repetitive cycle, he said.

Seoul and Washington have attempted to create a “virtuous cycle” where incentives were given to North Korea in exchange for a decrease in threatening behavior, said Cheon, calling the practice a “historically proven failure.”

Unlike Presidents Trump and Moon, Kim Jong Un can “wait things out” since the United States and South Korea have fixed terms for their leaders, Kazianis asserted.

“So if Trump and Moon are serious [about negotiating with Kim about denuclearization], they’re going to have to put their best package together pretty soon, then I think we’re going to be able to find out if Kim is serious,” he said.

Kazianis added, “If that’s not the case, then we’re going to have to move to probably tougher position.”

That’s something that may be necessary said Cheon.

“North Korea is proposing a ‘nuclear-free zone of the Korean peninsula,’” he said. It’s a concept first introduced by Kim Il Sung 30 years ago.

Cheon explained that North Korea is seeking to remove South Korea from the United States’ nuclear umbrella, prohibit the deployment of nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula, withdraw U.S. forces, and prohibit the deployment of strategic assets.

Also Read: Reports on Illegal Activity in Nation Will Be Rewarded By North Korea’s Government

“South Korea and the U.S. should establish their positions and develop a stable alliance to ensure North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons,” urged Cheon.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in departed Seoul April 10 and meets in Washington with U.S. President Donald Trump, Thursday, April 11. (VOA)

Next Story

U.S. Pentagon Emits More Greenhouse Gases Than Portugal, Study Finds

The Pentagon, which oversees the U.S. military, released about 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide

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U.S., Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases
FILE - The Pentagon building is seen in Washington. VOA

The United States creates more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions through its defense operations alone than industrialized countries such as Sweden and Portugal, researchers said Wednesday.

The Pentagon, which oversees the U.S. military, released about 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in 2017, according to the first study to compile such comprehensive data, published by Brown University.

The Pentagon’s emissions were “in any one year … greater than many smaller countries’ greenhouse gas emissions,” the study said.

If it were a country, its emissions would make it the world’s 55th-largest contributor, said Neta Crawford, the study’s author and a political scientist at Boston University.

U.S., Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases
FILE – Air pollution hangs over the skyline as the sun rises over Beijing’s central business district, Jan. 14, 2013. VOA

“There is a lot of room here to reduce emissions,” Crawford said.

Request for comments to the Pentagon went unanswered.

Troop movements

Using and moving troops and weapons accounted for about 70% of its energy consumption, mostly due to the burning of jet and diesel fuel, Crawford said.

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It dwarfed yearly emissions by Sweden, which the international research project Global Carbon Atlas ranks 65th worldwide for its of CO2 emissions.

Pentagon emissions were higher than those of Portugal, ranked 57th by the Global Carbon Atlas, said Crawford.

China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main gas responsible for climate change, followed by the United States.

The Pentagon called climate change “a national security issue” in a January report to Congress and has launched multiple initiatives to prepare for its impact.

U.S., Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases
The United States creates more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Pixabay

Global temperatures are on course for an increase of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius (5.4-9.0 degrees Fahrenheit) this century, far overshooting a global target of limiting the increase to 2 C or less, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization said in November.

Four degrees Celsius of warming would increase more than five times the influence of climate on conflict, according to a study published in Nature magazine on Wednesday.

Improvements

Crawford said the Pentagon had reduced its fuel consumption significantly since 2009, including by making its vehicles more efficient and moving to cleaner sources of energy at bases.

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It could reduce them further by cutting fuel-heavy missions to the Persian Gulf to protect access to oil, which were no longer a top priority as renewable energy gained ground, she said.

“Many missions could actually be rethought, and it would make the world safer,” she said. (VOA)