Are North Korea’s Nuclear Tests Promises That Promising?

Kim Jong Un announced North Korea’s halt in their nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) launch, starting from the 21st of April onwards. Consecutively, Mr. Kim announced the shutting down of a test site of theirs. While the announcements were long-awaited good news by the international community in their path a denuclearized world, there are contrary views to Mr. Kim’s actual intention. Doubts were further cast when there was news of a suspicious factory near the Chinese border. However, this article does not aim to pass a judgment on Mr. Kim’s plans, but, rather, purported to press the importance of the international community to continue being cautious and making sure that Mr. Kim follows through his promises to secure a nuclear-free future.

On the face of it, many countries welcomed this piece of good news. Starting with the closest neighbor of the North, the South Korean’s presidential office praised the North’s decision as promoting a ‘positive environment’ for the 2 upcoming summits, one between the South and North while the other between the North and United States. From there, the United States President, Donald Trump welcomed the good news and expressed his enthusiasm in meeting Mr. Kim in June on Twitter. The European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini commended this move as an evolutionary step in predicting a “verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation”.

However, some countries took the more practical approach to being wary of Mr. Kim’s announcements. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded by emphasizing the importance of the actual progress of Mr. Kim’s promises to the development of a “complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of nuclear arms, weapons of mass destruction and missiles”.

There are three reasons why the international community should do their part in participating the North’s denuclearization plans. Firstly, North Korea has an established reputation for going back on their promises. Although UN said that their strict sanctions had successfully pushed North Korea into compromising, UN should continue a lighter sanction to keep the North on their toes.

Secondly, Mr. Kim was reported to fall short on his denuclearisation announcements as he did not mention any plans in giving up the country’s nuclear stockpile. Mr. Kim’s comments on freezing the nuclear tests contrastingly add worry to the international community. Mr. Kim added in his announcements that the freeze on nuclear tests was possible since they had “verified the completion of nuclear weapons”, thereby establishing themselves as a full-fledged nuclear weapons state.

Thirdly, there are reports of the suspicious factory near the Chinese borders which increases distrust. Analysts have suspected that the factory produces an ultrapure form of graphite, a material essential in making nuclear reactors of the kind North Korea uses domestically. Additionally, Pyongyang was reported in attempting to sell the same nuclear-grade graphite overseas.

Luckily, some countries are taking the initiative to suggest propositions and regimes aid Mr. Kim. German’s Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas suggested North Korea to fully disclose their nuclear and missiles programmes “in a verifiable way”. Australia adds in their opinion by encouraging steps to verify North Korea’s actual progress to confirm that the tests are indeed stopped. Additionally, Margot Wallstrom, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said that their sanctions and other regimes will continue to remain the pressure up on the North.

Overall, the announcements are an encouraging move for the international community in realizing the dream of ‘denuclearisation goal’. Therefore, the international community plays a part in ensuring that the tests do stop for further progress for a world free from nuclear arms threat.

Cherie Gan

Gan Cherie is currently a third year law student at the University of Tasmania. Through the OWP, she aims to assist advocates in finding peaceful alternatives to combative situations of today.
Cherie Gan

About Cherie Gan

Gan Cherie is currently a third year law student at the University of Tasmania. Through the OWP, she aims to assist advocates in finding peaceful alternatives to combative situations of today.