Korea United States

North Korea’s definition of ‘denuclearization’ is very different from United States’

Written by Anna Fifield

The White House is gearing up for President Trump to discuss denuclearization with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at their much anticipated summit next month. But what does “denuclearization” mean?

It depends on whom you are asking. To some in Washington, “the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” as Trump tweeted late last month, means Kim handing over his nuclear weapons and missile systems and allowing international inspectors to check that the regime is keeping its word.

To Pyongyang, it means something very, very different. It means mutual steps to get rid of nuclear weapons, including requiring the United States to take down the nuclear umbrella it has put up over South Korea and Japan.

That is a difference in definition that could toll a death knell for the summit before it even starts.

“The danger is entering into negotiations with unrealistic expectations that Kim is just going to hand over the keys to his nuclear kingdom. He won’t,” said Vipin Narang, an expert on nuclear nonproliferation at MIT.

At the very least, Kim would agree to relinquish his weapons only if the United States agreed to end its military alliance with South Korea, in place since the 1950-53 Korean War, Narang said. He would also likely insist the United States end its commitment to “extended deterrence” in South Korea and Japan — its threat of nuclear retaliation if its allies in Asia come under attack from North Korea.

Read more at The Washington Post

About the author

Anna Fifield

Education: University of Canterbury, New Zealand, postgraduate diploma in journalism; Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, BA Anna Fifield is the Tokyo bureau chief for The Washington Post, focusing on Japan and the Koreas but periodically reporting from other parts of the region. She concentrates on North Korea, trying to shed light on the lives of ordinary people there and also on how the regime manages to stay in power. She started as a journalist in her home country of New Zealand, then worked for the Financial Times for 13 years. During her time there, she reported from almost 20 countries, from Iran and Libya to North Korea and Australia. During the 2013-2014 academic year, she was a Nieman journalism fellow at Harvard, studying how change happens in closed societies. Honors & Awards: Finalist, Asia Society's Osborn Elliott Prize, 2017 Nieman Journalism Fellow, Harvard University, 2013-2014