The Korean Peninsula: Dialogue Without Preconditions

Tougher sanctions against North Korea are useless

The situation around the Korean Peninsula, despite the close attention of leading world powers, is still far from stability and predictability. New tensions can be caused by North Korea's latest missile launch on 4 July 2017, which is positioned by DPRK as “intercontinental”. Two weeks earlier, Vice-President M. Pence warned Pyongyang about the ending of “strategic patience” because of the Korean nuclear missile program.

It should be recalled that some normalization of inter-Korean relations has become possible after the end of the cold war in the early 1990-ies. Then the Republic of Korea and the DPRK signed a joint Declaration on a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and the agreement on reconciliation, nonaggression, exchanges, and cooperation. In 1997-1999 in Geneva with the participation of the DPRK, the ROK, the US, and China hold peace treaty talks, though they were unsuccessful because of too various positions. Later, in 2000 and 2007 the meeting of heads of the ROK and the DPRK took place, during which were discussed issues of preparation of the Declaration of the end of the war.

Russia, China, USA, and Japan were actively involved in the format of so-called “six-party talks” on resolving the situation during 2003-2008. In September 2005, in Beijing was adopted a joint statement, providing for mutual recognition and normalization of relations between the DPRK and the United States and Japan, Pyongyang's refusal of nuclear weapons with providing him the right to develop nuclear energy under IAEA control. These provisions are recognized by all parties today as the basis for crisis settlement.

But the further policy of Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo did not contribute to the peace process. Regular large-scale military exercises near the Korean Peninsula and calls for the overthrow of the Korean regime actually have left North Korea's leaders no choice but to deter possible aggression. Since 2006, Pyongyang conducted five tests of nuclear explosive devices. In May 2016, at the VII Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea was discussed the following development of the nuclear program.

The U.S. administration seriously feared that the DPRK will hold at the Day of the Sun (April 15, 2017, the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung) another nuclear test. Washington once again declared intention to resolve the North Korean issue with the help of military pressure, including the use of force.

In its turn, Pyongyang took a rather ambiguous stance. From the beginning of 2017 North Korea has already made several tests of ballistic missiles of various classes, which contradicts the requirements of Security Council resolutions. It is noteworthy that the missile, launched on May 14, according to CNN, has fallen 60 miles from Vladivostok. But, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the missile was destroyed in the Sea of Japan at a distance of 500 km from the Russian border, and didn’t constitute any danger.

A similar situation was observed with the test missiles “Hwasong 12”, held on 4 July 2017 at the anniversary celebration of the US Independence Day and during the arrival of the Chinese leader to Moscow. According to the KCNA statement, publicized in the global media, the new missile “has hit a given target” at 933 km from the start. Although the data of the Russian Ministry of Defense showed much more modest parameters – 510 km, which is acceptable for medium-range missiles.

Undoubtedly, the military-political leadership of the DPRK in the conditions of international isolation and growth of military activity of the US and its allies in the region found the most logical decision is combination of the strategies of “unacceptable damage” with scare tactics with elements of bluff. But we can’t ignore the readiness of Pyongyang for talks with Washington. Since 2010, the DPRK has repeatedly announced its intention to negotiate the terms of a peace treaty with the United States. The key precondition of the North Korean leadership is to cease military exercises and the deployment of troops directed against the DPRK.

According to the permanent representative of the USA in the UN Security Council N.Haley, Washington is ready for dialogue with Pyongyang if the latter will stop its nuclear and missile tests. However, the Trump administration has not yet developed a clear stance regarding the Korean Peninsula. The emotionality of the American President, coupled with the lack of qualified personnel in his team, as well as a clear provocation of his political opponents, would destroy the delicate balance on the Korean Peninsula, continuing for more than 60 years, thanks largely to the efforts of Moscow and Washington. In this regard, decision on deployment in Kazakhstan the batteries of the THAAD missile complex, flights of strategic bombers, as well as other steps to strengthen American military capabilities in the region do not help reduce tensions.

The position of Russia regarding the DPRK remains unchanged – Moscow strongly condemns the nuclear missile program of North Korea, and fully supports the terms of UN Security Council Resolutions. As it was noted by the President of Russia Vladimir Putin at a press conference in Beijing on 15 May 2017, “we are against the expansion of the club of nuclear powers, against the missile tests, but we need to stop to intimidate North Korea and to begin negotiations.”

Moscow and Beijing have developed key provisions of the “road map” for solving the problem of the DPRK. According to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia I. Morgulov, we should, without preconditions, move to dialogue, starting with a commitment of mutual restraint. China has put forward a proposal for “double freezing” – the missile and nuclear tests by Pyongyang and U.S.-South Korean military exercises, as well as “parallel promotion” to the denuclearization and establishment of peace and security in Northeast Asia.

Despite the course of Kim Jong-UN on improvement of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery, a further strengthening of international sanctions is meaningless. Much more productive seems to be the practice of gradual inclusion of the DPRK in international economic projects (transport corridors, mining, organization of production, etc.) after the fundamental decisions of the national security of the country. The latter is possible only by concluding a series of agreements between all parties involved in the crisis, including the “freeze” of Pyongyang's military nuclear activities. Given the Washington’s unwillingness to solve the problems in this way, with the apparent interest of its allies in Seoul and Tokyo in a peaceful outcome, it is likely that the initiative to promote stability on the Korean Peninsula should be implemented by the two strategic partners – Moscow and Beijing.

weapons missile DPRK