Is a peace treaty on the Trump-Kim summit agenda?
Wang Xinyan

U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed on Tuesday that he would meet the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi. What might come of the February 27-28 meeting? Is a peace treaty possible?

Evans J.R. Revere, a senior fellow at the Center for East Asia Policy Studies, holds a pessimistic view. Writing for Brookings Institution, he advised those who believe the next summit between Trump and Kim will move the DPRK closer to ending its nuclear weapons program to lower their expectations.

In Revere's opinion, Washington now believes the initial, more ambitious denuclearization goals cannot be attained. He added that Kim knows that, "Seoul is prioritizing reconciliation over denuclearization. Beijing and Moscow appear content with Pyongyang's nuclear-armed status quo as long as North Korea (the DPRK) is not testing."

Revere thinks Kim aims to "create the illusion of denuclearization" and knows all the nuclear and missile measures he has taken or might propose at the summit are easily reversible. Therefore, Kim may offer “concessions” to support that illusion, but will not move to end his nuclear weapons program.

Revere is not alone. Su Xiaohui, the deputy director of the Institute of International Strategy of the China Institute of International Studies, told CCTV that "three feet of ice does not form in a single day," suggesting deep-rooted problems between the two countries cannot be solved quickly.

The Straits Times also said the possibility of reaching a deal is very low, given the complexity of the issue. "A full peace treaty poses many complications, and will need extensive negotiations."        

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders speaks to reporters at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2019. /VCG Photo

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders speaks to reporters at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2019. /VCG Photo

Professor Koo of the University of North Korean Studies told the Straits Times that the deal would require major work, "from amending the constitutions of the two Koreas and re-addressing the role of the U.S. troops."

Kim Dong-yub, an analyst at the Seoul-based Institute for Far Eastern Studies, added that negotiations for such a treaty might need more than three years. "The more likely scenario is for the concerned parties - North and South Korea, the U.S., and China - to declare a formal end to the war as a political statement."

Though a full peace treaty may be unlikely, some consensus could be achieved.

DPRK leader Kim Jong Un (R) talking with Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of the WPK Central Committee and delegation leader of the second U.S.-DPRK high-level talks to be held in Washington DC, on January 24, 2019.  Photo released by the DPRK's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). /VCG Photo

DPRK leader Kim Jong Un (R) talking with Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of the WPK Central Committee and delegation leader of the second U.S.-DPRK high-level talks to be held in Washington DC, on January 24, 2019.  Photo released by the DPRK's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). /VCG Photo

Ruan Zongze, deputy director of China Institute of International Studies, told CCTV: "The United States has always valued the specific situation of the DPRK's nuclear facilities and ballistic missile facilities, and senior officials from both countries have been communicating this issue, while the DPRK requires the United States to provide economic compensation and benefits. In this regard, they may compromise and reach an agreement.

"The United States says that UN sanctions will not be lifted, but it can consider providing humanitarian assistance to the DPRK. At the same time, the United States has further loosened and even encouraged the development of relations between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea." 

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