Too early to award Peace Prize for Korean "nuclear settlement"
Statements about the nomination of U.S. President Donald Trump, and some even say – about the nomination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – for this year's Nobel Peace Prize is just a curtsey made ahead of the meeting between the two top officials. In fact, only the outcome of this summit will tell whether they are able to move from a deadlock the issue of settlement of the Korean issue and the signing of a peace agreement between the United States and DPRK.
At the moment, there are reasons to believe that such an agreement can actually be signed off. But it would be too early to say that it will lead to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. This is still a big question, since North Korea has created a nuclear arsenal not to surrender it under certain conditions.
Declarations of unconditional disarmament of the DPRK are fake and do not correspond to reality. After all, the basic condition set forward by North Korea was the complete elimination of the U.S. threat and withdrawal of American troops from the region. At the moment, this is impossible under the existing geopolitical circumstances. Therefore, the requirement will not be met.
Declarations of unconditional disarmament of the DPRK are fake and do not correspond to reality
The only thing that the United States can achieve in these developments is the halt to nuclear tests and a f the whole missile program in DPRK. But this will allow North Korea to maintain its nuclear arsenal, and then (when the circumstances that the DPRK can treat as a threat or conditions for a threat to the political regime in Pyongyang) will renew these tests.
For Kim Jong-un, nuclear weapons are a deterrent against external threats to interference in the internal affairs of North Korea. He can go for suspending nuclear missile tests, rolling down the missile program for some time, and even allowing IAEA experts to visit some of the sites, partially and selectively, and returning to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But Pyongyang does not even speak about the destruction of and complete refusal from nuclear arms, because they have seen the experience of Libya and Ukraine. There's even a joke there that in exchange for denuclearization, Trump will have to sign another Budapest Memorandum. So I think that Pyongyang understood all these risks and will not go for it.
By the way, there are certain questions to the Trump-Kim summit as well. At the moment, there are several possible options for the location to choose. But there is the position of "heavyweights" of U.S. policy, the "hawks," who find such summit inappropriate until North Korea takes concrete steps. And DPRK just won't. Therefore, there is a probability (somewhere around 20%) that the summit may not take place at all.
For Kim Jong-un, nuclear weapons are a deterrent against external threats to interference in the internal affairs of North Korea
We should wait for further developments. But today, there is neither reason nor sense to award a peace prize to anyone because there is no dry balance and no arrangements in place. The only agreement is to halt hostile actions at the 38th parallel and to restore contacts between South and North Koreas; possibly a restoration of the activities of the Kaisan Industrial Zone, and family reunification. But these are small steps that do not solve the Korean reconciliation issue in any way.
Regarding the role of South Korean leader Moon Jae-in in this whole story, it should be noted that it was not he who persuaded Kim Jong-un to negotiate with Trump. There is a whole range of processes that has led to the actualization of the possibility of holding such a summit: it's the negotiations between Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un, consultations with Russia, and talks with other countries' leaders, as well as the visit of Mike Pompeo... It's about a large complex of diplomatic efforts. So here the role of Moon Jae-in is far from being the main one. Although, of course, he did everything possible under the conditions South Korea is in. But he is not the main player in this story.
Contacts between South and North Koreas are important because they removed the key tension and created an atmosphere for the upcoming summit. However, the basic arrangements are possible only in the North Korea – U.S. format.
Vitaliy Kulyk is a Director of the Center for the Study of Civil Society Problems