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Millennium Post

In wait of a real summit!

In wait of a  real summit!
The world may be beaming with optimism after South Korean President Moon Jae-in embraced North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un after signing the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity, and Unification of the Korean Peninsula but there is nothing to be ecstatic about yet. For all practical purposes, it is a prelude to the grand summit that awaits Kim when U.S. President Donald Trump enters the scene. Indeed, the joint declaration was carefully formulated to set the stage for the upcoming summit between North Korea and the United States. Unfortunately, peace and denuclearisation are still a long way off. Incidentally, Kim Jong-il had also promised to freeze North Korea's nuclear programme in 1994 and shut down nuclear facilities in 2007. This promise went as far as having IAEA inspectors on the ground overseeing the dismantling of the Yongbyon nuclear complex. Nevertheless, the peace process failed upon discovery that the North Koreans were still enriching uranium. So, suspicions remain. There is an eerie similarity between the joint Panmunjom agreement and its predecessors'. In 2000, Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il had also agreed to "end hostility and open a new era of reconciliation and cooperation" between the two Koreas, just as their successors did. And that particular summit ended with the South-North Joint Declaration, harbouring similar feelgood promises. In other words, this summit, in so many ways, was back to square one. The optimism bubbling out of the Korean peninsula is a welcome change from the familiar stories of underground nuclear detonations, ballistic missile tests, and "fire and fury." During his election campaign, Moon made engagement with North Korea a cornerstone of his foreign policy and President Donald Trump is hungry to cement his legacy as the U.S. President that brought peace on the Korean peninsula. The first summit kicked things off with a great start. So can this really make way for lasting peace? Despite all positive developments, the strategic context remains unchanged. North Korea still remains a poor, weak country, acutely vulnerable to U.S. and South Korean invasion and nuclear weapons continue to serve as an effective deterrent. Given these conditions, taking North Korea's charm offensive at face value is unwise. Everything North Korea does is designed to achieve two things: ensure regime survival and pry South Korea away from the United States, eventually leading to complete U.S. withdrawal from the region. As for the next summit between Trump and Kim, North Korea seems to be pulling from a playbook it has already used in the past but this time, its adversary is one of the most inept, distracted and fractured administrations in U.S. history. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Pyongyang finds this particular administration, at this particular moment in history, to be the opportune moment to execute whatever machinations they have prepared.
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