Skip to content

Pyongyang Declaration: The Renewed Optimism

Pyongyang Declaration is an outcome of series of high voltage diplomatic processes that has taken place in the last six months. It has evoked fresh sense of optimism

The current development in the Korean peninsula reminds us of the famous phrase “We have been here before.” Albeit with little more certainty. The denuclearisation process of North Korea has witnessed its own share of crest and trough putting the international community on series of sense of optimism and pessimism. The year 2018 hasobserved some unprecedented overtures by both the US and North Korea over the sensitive issue, the materialisation of which will depend upon a long torturous process fraught with uncertainty.

US President Donald Trump has said that he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un soon. Trump’s declaration came hours after Pyongyang Declaration which opens fresh opportunity to dismantle North Korean nuclear test site and allow inspections. In a joint statement signed by South Korean leader Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on 19 September, North Korean leader Kim Jong has offered to welcome international ‘inspectors’ to oversee the “permanent” dismantling of its missile-engine test site, and also to shut down its main nuclear complex at Yongbyon, conditional upon the US taking undefined “corresponding measures.” According to analyst Andrew Salmon, offer is potentially the biggest move North Korea could make on denuclearisation. However other analysts have highlighted some of the anomalies in the Pyongyang Declaration. Vipin Narang, Associate Professor of political science at MIT, suggest the site chosen for the denuclearisation to be a meaningless engine testing site. Secondly, the declaration has not used the word inspectors but observers. It does not mention specifically under whose watch the dismantling will take place, certainly no mention of the US or the IAEA. The word “corresponding measures” again doesn’t fit well within the framework of formal declaration, as it leaves ample space for manipulation and maneuvering. Finally, there are historical evidences of North Korea backing out of the agreement.

The recent declaration is an outcome of series of high voltage diplomatic processes that has taken place in the last six months. In June, US President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un had met in Singapore for a high-stakes summit, months after the United Nations Security Council announced fresh sanctions against North Korea. South Korea another crucial stakeholder in the process has upped its ante for the complete denuclearisation of the peninsula. Its President Moon had held two consecutive meetings with Kim in the border village of Panmunjom on April 27 and May 26 which helped in finalising Trump-Kim meet. However, things didn’t work out the way US has expected and the it had to cancel Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s trip to North Korea. Last week Mike Pompeo had blamed Russia and China for helping North Korea circumvent US led sanction against it. After the declaration, he has suggested that the North Korea nuclear talks may be completed by January 2021. The renewed sense of optimism may not be necessarily infelicitous, but certainly is exaggerated–as we have been here before.

383 Total Views 1 Views Today