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Appropriate response required to advance peninsula peace

China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-23 07:31
Shi Yu / China Daily

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea said on Saturday that it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests and plans to close its northern nuclear test site. According to its official Korean Central News Agency it has vowed to actively engage with the international community to secure peace on the Korean Peninsula and create an optimal environment to improve its economy. Three experts from Jilin University shared their views on the DPRK's announcement with China Daily's Pan Yixuan.

National security remains priority for Pyongyang

Though progress has been made in the DPRK's talks with the Republic of Korea and the United States, the announcement was still a surprise. It came just six days before the summit between DPRK leader Kim Jong-un and Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in.

National security has been the sine qua non for Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program so it is impossible for this to be an unconditional concession. Therefore, it is most likely that the US met some conditions to comply with the DPRK's need to protect its national security during the recent talks between the head of the CIA and secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo and Kim.

The DPRK said it will pay more attention to economic development, which is a policy change that could only be made on the premise of guaranteed security. The US and the ROK now have to give a positive response because the DPRK has met one of their conditions.

However, whether the peninsula's peace process can be maintained relies on effective implementation of the promises the three countries have made and will make in their upcoming meetings.

Liu Xuelian, head of the Institute of Northeast Asian Geopolitics and Economics, Jilin University

US and ROK now need to make reciprocal response

Pyongyang has extended an olive branch to Washington that has long insisted on strict sanctions against Pyongyang until it agrees to denuclearization.

The ever tougher sanctions imposed by the United Nations had a great impact on the DPRK's economy, and the worldwide opposition against Pyongyang's nuclear tests added political pressure that has prompted Pyongyang to seriously consider denuclearization.

Pyongyang is showing great sincerity and determination to promote peaceful talks with the ROK and the US to realize development.

But Pyongyang agreed to cease nuclear tests instead of giving them up. Whether the peace process on the Korean Peninsula will advance requires Washington and Seoul to give positive responses to Pyongyang's concession. Otherwise, Pyongyang will have no option but to restart its nuclear and missile tests.

Wang Sheng, a researcher at the Co-Innovation Center for Korean Peninsula Studies and professor of International Politics at Jilin University

Nuclear weapons have weakened DPRK's security

In its announcement, Pyongyang also said it would shift its focus to economic development. In the face of the UN sanctions and the objections of the international community, the DPRK needs to ease tensions to improve its sluggish economy.

Besides, its immature nuclear technology has actually decreased Pyongyang's sense of security as it has increased tensions with a much stronger military power. Trump tweeted that the US would end talks with Pyongyang if it saw no potential for the DPRK to end its nuclear weapons program.

The attacks by the US and two of its allies against Syria might also have had a spillover effect prompting Pyongyang to suspend its nuclear missile tests.

And it seems Kim and Pompeo reached an agreement on the DPRK's national security in exchange for denuclearization. Trump's praise on Twitter for Kim's decision can be regarded as an increasing willingness of the US to talk at the end of May or the beginning of June.

It can be inferred from the DPRK's announcement that having considered the costs and benefits, Pyongyang is sincere about seizing this historic opportunity to negotiate on denuclearization and restore peace on the peninsula to boost its economic development.

Ba Dianjun, head of the Institute of International Politics at the Northeast Asian Studies College, Jilin University

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