Moon Jae-in wants to formally end the Korean War. Can it bring peace? | Nuclear Weapons News

that day in korea test shot For the first missile of the year, South Korean President Moon Jae-in attended the groundbreaking ceremony in the border town of Goseong for a railway line he hopes will one day reconnect the divided Korean peninsula.

Moon Jae-in worries that the Jan. 5 nuclear test could further destabilize inter-Korean relations, stressing that his government will not give up hope of resuming peace talks.

Only dialogue can “fundamentally overcome this situation,” the South Korean president said. “If the two Koreas work together and build trust, peace will come one day.”

Moon Jae-in has made an unprecedented effort to engage North Korea’s Kim Jong Un since taking office five years ago.the two meet three times 2018, promise declare korean war – ended not with a peace treaty, but with the armistice of 1953 – by the end of the year.

But the bid, along with talks to dismantle Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal and free it from punitive global sanctions, stand still The following year, a summit between Kim Jong Un and former U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital, broke down.

Kim has since refused discount Negotiations resume unconditionally from Trump’s successor.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, wearing a long black fur coat, talks to two officials as he oversees the launch of a hypersonic missileNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un talks with officials during a test of a hypersonic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea reported by state media on January 11, 2022 [KCNA via Reuters]

In recent months, Wen, who was due to step down in May, has strengthen Efforts to get the peace process back on track have lobbied the United States and China, both involved in the Korean War, to support a formal declaration of the conflict over.

Speaking to the UN General Assembly recently, Moon said that if all the main parties to the conflict “declare an end to the war, I believe we can make irreversible progress in denuclearization and usher in an era of complete peace”.

The proposal has the support of a majority of the South Korean public, but experts are divided. Some said it could help break the diplomatic deadlock on the Korean peninsula, while others feared it could threaten South Korea’s security, including undermining its defense alliance with the United States.

“Political Symbolic Measures”

Proponents of the end-of-war declaration say only diplomacy has so far helped ease tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Christine Ahn, executive director of advocacy group Women Cross DMZ, noted that summits between leaders of the United States, South Korea and North Korea in 2018 and 2019 led to Kim’s pause With regard to nuclear tests and long-range missile tests, release Of the three Americans detained, mine clearance part of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two North Koreas, and reunion of separated families.

“It is time to stop the use of force,” Ann said, describing the proposed end-of-war declaration as a “symbolic measure of politics” that could build confidence and create momentum for a return to negotiations.

But to be effective, she said the statement must be accompanied by “a fundamental shift in U.S. policy and a commitment by all parties to reduce hostilities.” This could include measures such as lifting sanctions and scaling back sanctions imposed by the United States and South Korea. Military exercises, and the lifting of the U.S. Travel ban North Korea allows family reunions.

An said the signing of the declaration of the end of the war would allow diplomats to “start work, restart where negotiations have been interrupted since Hanoi, and start working on a timetable for disarmament”.

Those who objected to such a statement did not offer a viable alternative, she added.

“Merely insisting that North Korea bow to U.S. demands for denuclearization, believing that more pressure-based tactics will achieve those goals without evidence to the contrary, is not a viable solution,” she said.

The United States has yet to confirm the level of its support for Moon’s push for peace, with national security adviser Jack Sullivan saying in October that Seoul and Washington “have some different views on the exact sequence, timing or conditions” of the proposed treaty.

Washington has made little comment on the proposal since then, although South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong said on Dec. 29 that Seoul and Washington had “actually reached an agreement on its draft text.”

South Korea’s foreign ministry also said earlier this month that China supported its initiative, citing a senior Chinese official as saying Beijing believed the move “will help promote peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.”

Diplomatic ruse?

So far, however, North Korea’s response has only been tepid.

Kim’s powerful sister Kim Yoo Jong, Call Last year’s proposal was “interesting and admirable,” but she said the conditions were inappropriate because of Seoul’s “hostile” policy – a reference to economic sanctions and annual U.S.-South Korea military exercises that Pyongyang called a rehearsal for the invasion.

And Kim, in his New Year’s speech This year, the South Korean proposal was silent.

Sung-yoon Lee, a North Korea expert at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, believes North Korea has been pushing to declare the war over since the 1970s, when the U.S. was just “pretending not to be interested.” Signed a peace agreement to end the Vietnam War.

“In the long run, North Korea is considering a complete de-escalation and withdrawal of U.S. military support to South Korea. Declaring the end of the war is just a baby step, but an important step in that direction,” he said.

About 28,500 U.S. troops are currently stationed in South Korea, and the Moon Jae-in administration has said the declaration of the end of the war will not affect the alliance between the two countries.It also said the proposal does not imply “legal, structural changes to the current armistice regime,” including a U.S.-led status United Nations Command (UNC), the multinational military force that helped repel the 1953 North Korean invasion, is now tasked with enforcing the armistice.

But Lee said the declaration of the end of the war “arguably makes the UN Security Council illegitimate and must be disbanded,” while also raising questions on the Korean peninsula and the United States about the need for a military presence in South Korea.

“The most attractive model for North Korea was the Paris Peace Accords of January 1973, which ended the Vietnam War and led to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Vietnam,” Lee said. “It was called a peace treaty, a peace agreement, but a few days later there was war, and in 1975 the North unified Vietnam, led by a communist government.”

He added: “So all these pleasant-sounding, peaceful-sounding agreements are only good if both parties or all signatories have the will to keep the peace. Sometimes it’s a diplomatic rumor, it’s a kind of subterfuge, to achieve the exact opposite, to gain control, and to acquire territory in a non-peaceful manner.”

‘Long Shot’

Despite all the advantages and risks of the South Korean proposal, its fate remains uncertain.

With Moon’s single five-year term due to expire in less than five months, the race for the presidency is shaping up to be a tight race.

Moon Jae-in’s party candidate Lee Jae-myung supports the plan, but his main opponent, Yoon Sek-yul, has spoken out against it, saying an end-of-war declaration could weaken the U.N. Security Council and weaken domestic support for the U.S. military presence in South Korea.

While Seoul claims the U.S. and China back the proposed statement, experts say the international side is unclear.

Bong Yong-sik, a researcher at the Institute of Korean Studies at Yonsei University in Seoul, said the United States and North Korea wanted different outcomes from the declaration of the end of the war.

“For the United States, if the joint statement can make meaningful and substantial progress on North Korea’s denuclearization, then it is acceptable. But the statement is not really closely related to making progress on that front,” he said. .

“For North Korea, there must be some substantial benefits to agreeing on a joint statement. What North Korea wants most is the lifting of sanctions. But this is not something the South Korean government can decide. So unless there is a guaranteed interest, the North Korean government The proposal would not be considered attractive.

“It was a long take, very long from the start.”