- Tough equation: security guarantees vs total de-nuclearization
At last, they met. After months of threats and counter threats, taunts, fiery rhetoric of ‘bigger buttons’ ‘begging for war’, and unleashing annihilating nuclear war, the equally unpredictable leaders of the US and North Korea faced each other, not in battle stations, but across the negotiating table in an ostensible spirit of bonhomie, promising hopes of peace in the future for nearly 76million people of the Korean peninsula, an equal number in Japan, and 75,000-plus US troops stationed in the region. The audible sigh of relief among those long living under the unbearable strain of missiles regularly flying overhead, of sudden conflagration and nuclear Armageddon, would no doubt be heard across the tension-ridden area after positive vibes emanating from the Trump-Kim rendezvous, which reportedly cost the prosperous city-state a cool $20 million. But so far, it can be said, with fingers crossed and duly qualified with the weasel word, ‘apparently’, that it was money well spent, and that at least immediate tensions stand defused.
Despite outward nervousness, the first meeting between a sitting US president and reclusive North Korean leader claiming sacred dynastic ancestry, went off remarkably well, with the former effusive and optimistic in his comments, the latter more wary and subdued, but both apparently hitting it off personally, and producing after the official parleys, a ‘comprehensive’ document, but without the detail and fine print, Trump offering ‘security guarantees’ to regime-change shy, almost paranoid, Kim Jon-Un, and the latter significantly ‘reaffirming his firm and unwavering commitment to complete de-nuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula’, in practice, a task easier said than done, considering the terrible fate of Libya’s Colonel Qaddafi who, some believe, foolishly forsook his nuclear-chemical weapons programmes to appease the West. Terming the meeting ‘fantastic’, the US president was all praise for the Korean dictator, ‘very smart… hard negotiator…talented man’, calling the summit a ‘good prelude for peace’ and getting rid of a ‘very dangerous world problem’, and promising early ‘follow –on negotiations’ and a White House visit. However, the immediate needs include a peace treaty formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War, reassuring Kim by lifting crippling international sanctions, and avoiding provocative statements by US hardliners.