International Current Affairs

Looking forward after Trump-Kim summit breaks down

Hanoi Summit

A summit between Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended (February 28, 2019) without agreement after the US refused North Korean demands for sanctions relief. The Hanoi Summit, was a two-day summit meeting between North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump, held at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam. According to US President North Korea wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, but the US did not want to do that. On the other hand North Korea claimed that it had made “realistic proposals” at the summit. The summit had been called with an aim that the two leaders would announce progress on denuclearization, but expectations were belied as the talks broke. Later the US President said, “Sometimes you have to walk and this was one of those times.”

According to a BBC report, the original White House programme for the day had planned for a “joint agreement signing ceremony” as well as a working lunch for the two leaders, but expectations were abruptly dashed with the cancellation of both. Even after this the United States, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was very hopeful that officials from both sides could resume talks before too long.

The two countries were not able to resolve the differences as they were rigid on their stances, but negotiations require proportionate give and take to succeed. The media reports pointed out that Mr Kim made a significant offer – to dismantle all of the Yongbyon complex, the research and production facility at the heart of North Korea’s nuclear programme and in lieu it wanted all sanctions on North Korea lifted, something the US was not prepared to offer. US thinks that there are nuclear network of facilities that extend beyond Yongbyon. Earlier, Stephen Biegun, the US state department special representative for North Korea had claimed that North Korea had committed in pre-summit talks to destroy all of the nation’s plutonium- and uranium-enrichment facilities, dependent on unspecified US measures in return. Yongbyon is North Korea’s only known source of plutonium but the country is believed to have at least two other facilities where uranium is enriched.

After the talks break down

The Guardian reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin in his meeting with Kim who was visiting Russia on April 25, 2019 said that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would require “security guarantees” in order to abandon his nuclear program, following the first ever summit between the two leaders. Putin and Kim promised to forge stronger ties during a two-hour meeting in the Russian city of Vladivostok, where the Russian president also offered to help break the deadlock over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme. Kim, who arrived in Russia on April 24, by armoured train, called the talks “very meaningful”. The leaders did not immediately announce any agreements and analysts cautioned that Russia could only offer modest diplomatic and economic support to North Korea. But the friendly tone contrasted with that of the failed summit between Kim and the US president, Donald Trump, in February.

Firing of two missiles without any provocation

North Korea fired two rounds of missiles on May 2, 2019, its second launch in a week. According to the South Korean authorities the missiles were fired east “from Sinori area located in Northern Pyongan Province” about 4:29 p.m. and 4:49 p.m. local time on May 2 . The launch came just days after North Korea on Saturday fired what were described as several short-range projectiles. A South Korean military official has said that the launch was thought to involve multiple rocket launchers, including “new tactical guidance weapons.”After Pyongyang’s firing of missiles, the president of South Korea said he believes his country’s northern neighbor is unhappy that a summit with President Donald Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam, fell apart earlier this year. South Korea President Moon Jae-in said in an interview that “If they have any discontent, North Korea should talk about it,” Moon said. “By acting like this, misinterpretations can accumulate, and this could aggravate the dialogue or negotiation mood, and we would like to let them know about this message.”

Revival of Six-party dialogue: An option?

It may be recalled that President Vladimir Putin was reportedly considering (proposing a revival of the six-party talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear program while meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on April 25.Russia has reportedly informed the United States and China of its intention to make the proposal. It may be recalled that the six-party talks were chaired by China and started in 2003. The other participants are the US, North Korea, Japan, South Korea and Russia. But the US and North Korea became increasingly at odds over how to verify Pyongyang’s commitment to scrap its nuclear development program. The talks have been stalled since December 2008.

Notwithstanding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s call for multilateral dialogue to provide an international security guarantee for North Korea through resuming six-party talks, experts opine that this is highly unlikely.US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton, however, rejected a return to six-party talks just after Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held their first summit in Vladivostok. He said that the US president was not trying to exclude other countries from the nuclear talks but “I think it’s not our preference.” He expressed hope that there is still possibility of a third summit with Kim.

Uncertain future

The future still looks uncertain although nuclear power falling into the hands of impulsive leaders or irresponsible hands is a real fear. The US regime is taking tough stands on many issues in the belief that it will get the desired results on its own terms. The geopolitics, nevertheless, is now not uni-polar. Negotiations are not possible in a hegemony framework. Powers like Russia and China have their own reasons to back North Korea in a subtle way. Meanwhile the nucler issue with North Korea and Iran are again appearing to have slipped at the same level of uncertainty.

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