November 20, 2019

Don’t Get Too Excited the Latest North Korean “Breakthrough”

“Following their third summit in less than a year, South Korea’s President Moon Jae In and North Korea’s premier Kim Jong Un have made a number of important announcements, including a reduction in forces along the intra-Korean border and a North Korean pledge to shut down the facilities at Yongbyon that makes fissile material for nuclear weapons, at a historic summit in Pyongyang. At the same time, the agreements, as they stand now, would do little to impede North Korea’s continued growth as a nuclear power and have no clear mechanisms so far to verify that they are holding up their end of any arrangements. The outcome of this latest meeting also raises serious questions about whether the South Koreans are on the same page policy-wise as their American counterparts, which could impact the prospects for future U.S. government negotiations with Pyongyang.

Moon and Kim held three days of meetings in the North Korean capital between Sept. 17 and Sept. 19, 2018, before signing what they called the Pyongyang Joint Declaration of September 2018. South Korean Defense Minister Song Young Moo and his North Korean counterpart Rho Kwang Chul also signed a separate document. The two countries’ leaders met for the first time in a historic summit at the border enclave of Panmunjom in April 2018. The two returned to the village the next month for further talks.”

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