President Donald Trump plans to visit South Korea this weekend in hopes of resuming talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to shut down North Korea’s nuclear program. President Trump will also meet with South Korean president Moon Jae-in and foster “in-depth discussions on ways to work together to ensure lasting peace,” according to Moon’s spokesperson.
The planned visit follows a letter from Trump to Kim intended to convince the North Korean leader to resume talks after a failed summit between the two leaders that took place in February. The first meeting between the two leaders took place in June 2018 in Singapore, and the two met again in February. The Vietnam summit was unsuccessful, as Kim refused to dismantle the nation’s nuclear weapons program in return for a lift in sanctions. President Trump offered to remove these sanctions only once North Korea expedites the complete dismantling of its nuclear weapons program, but Kim only agreed to shut down one major weapons facility.
Despite the lack of progress made at the February summit, President Trump claims to have a very friendly relationship with the North Korean leader. United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo stated that he believes that Trump’s letter to Kim “will provide a good foundation for us to begin…these important discussions with the North Koreans,” and Washington is ready to begin talks with North Korea immediately. According to the North Korean Central News Agency, Kim Jong Un “said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content”, Trump displayed “extraordinary courage” and Kim “would seriously contemplate the [letter’s] interesting content.” This statement has led policy experts to predict an upcoming meeting between the leaders to occur in the next few days or weeks.
Foreign policy experts expect a third summit between the leaders to occur in the near future, and while the United States appears eager to participate in such talks, it is unclear whether or not substantial progress will be made. Lieutenant General Robert Ashley, director of the United States Defense Intelligence Agency stated that his agency does not believe that Kim will be willing to give up his nuclear weapons, despite the effects that the sanctions have had on North Korea’s economy. According to the New York Times, Kim’s eagerness to consider the content of Trump’s letter stems directly from the harm caused by the United States’ intense sanctions.
Additionally, continued North Korean missile tests, some as recent as last month, have contributed to the tension between the United States, South Korea, and North Korea. These short-range tests demonstrate how dangerous North Korea’s nuclear weapon program could be. It is extremely difficult to incentivize a nation to simply get rid of such a powerful program, and while easing sanctions may be desirable to Kim Jong Un, given North Korea’s current economic situation, it may not always be the most effective strategy in the future. Waiting for North Korea to proceed with discussions on their own terms may not lead to a desirable result, so the United States must be more forceful in restarting negotiations.
The United States is currently displaying an eagerness to restart talks with North Korea regarding the issue and seems to be continuing to pursue sanctions as a negotiating tool. However, President Trump has previously been open about his willingness to retaliate against North Korea with nuclear weapons of his own, and a 2018 tweet by President Trump boasted about his “much bigger” and “more powerful” arsenal of nuclear weapons. This is not an effective strategy and only contributes to the heightened worldwide fear of a potential nuclear war due to a feud between Trump and Kim.
Another concern is ensuring that if a deal is agreed upon, both North Korea and the United States hold up their ends of the deal. It will be difficult to hold North Korea accountable and ensure that their nuclear weapons program is actually shut down, since the government censors almost all of the nation’s news is secretive about its proceedings. It will be important to make sure that the deal is followed through without causing any additional tension between North Korea and other nations.
This issue is especially complex, given that North Korea’s government and the news is almost entirely closed off from the outside world, so there are many options to consider in order to address how to best solve the problem. Convincing North Korea to shut down their nuclear weapons program will be difficult, especially since so many other countries have nuclear arsenals of their own. Nuclear weapons give militaries a sense of strength and power, so North Korea will likely feel threatened and in danger, if they give up their weapons. Ideally, all nations should shut down their nuclear weapons program, but this process will take a long time. In the effort to eliminate the world’s nuclear weapons, North Korea’s program is a good starting point because shutting it down will relieve threats of danger and war worldwide. North Korea’s nuclear launches have instilled fear in many people, and the idea of a country as isolated as North Korea having nuclear weapons makes much of the world feel as if their own lives could be in significant danger. Despite the challenge of convincing a nation to give up something that it believes holds a great amount of power, it is still possible to make progress in shutting down North Korea’s nuclear weapons program without resorting to violence.
The economic sanction route that the United States has been pursuing may finally be working, as North Korea is finally feeling pressure to give up their nuclear weapons in order to relieve these sanctions. It is important to take advantage of the current circumstances and continue to use the pressure of sanctions, rather than threats of violence, as these sanctions may be more effective now than ever before. While this is a promising sign, it is important to take into better consideration how North Korea will be incentivized to give up their nuclear weapons. Instead of punishing North Korea for having these weapons, President Trump and other leaders could consider how the nation could be rewarded for scaling back, and ultimately eliminating, the program. Whenever the next summit occurs, President Trump should make sure that the talks do not fail like those in February. Any reduction in North Korea’s nuclear arsenal makes the entire world a safer place and is better than no reduction at all. It is acceptable, and in fact understandable, for the North Korean government to take small steps in shutting down their nuclear program. However, it is essential that these small steps happen continuously and are aimed towards a complete shutdown of the program as quickly as possible.
Ideally, the promise of sanction relief would incentivize North Korea to completely shut down its nuclear weapons program, which would solve the current problem. Sanctions would be a strong enough bargaining chip to convince North Korea that their economy would be much better off with the sanctions lifted and that the overall benefit of this will be significantly greater than the perceived assurance of safety they keep by continuing to run their nuclear weapon program. However, it is also important to consider how North Korea could respond to ways in which the United States and other nations hold North Korea accountable without aggravating Kim and his government. The United States, South Korea, and other nations such as China would have to work together with North Korea to decide on not only a strategy to dismantle the program but to assure and prove that the North Korean government has kept their promises.
It is essential to limit the number of nuclear weapons worldwide, as they are extremely dangerous and cause worldwide fear. The Cold War clearly established how nuclear weapons cause worldwide tension due to the constant threat of war between the Soviet Union and the United States, and it is important to prevent a similar situation from occurring again. The threat of nuclear war is extremely anxiety-inducing to citizens across the world because these missiles can be fired at large distances and will cause massive amounts of death and destruction. Dismantling North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is an important step in eliminating the use and testing of nuclear weapons around the world, and ultimately makes the world a safer place for everyone. Additionally, if North Korea can prove that they have actually gotten rid of their weapons, other nations with a nuclear arsenal may be incentivized to scale back their own programs because they no longer feel threatened. This ripple effect will be a huge step forward for humanity, and life all over the globe will become much more peaceful without the threat of deadly nuclear weapons.
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