The leaders of North Korea and South Korea met recently for a very rare set of meetings discussing many topics concerning both nations on the Korean Peninsula.
The two leaders signed a reconciliation pact that covered a wide range of issues. Not the least of which is the fact that they are finally going to try to replace the cease-fire that stopped the fighting of the Korean War in 1953. Offically, the war never ended, according to The Associated Press.
This pact came the day after North Korea made its firmest commitment to nuclear disarmament yet. This would have the country’s nuclear program completely dismantled by the end of the year, if everything goes according to plan.
According to The AP, this pact states that “the South and North shared the view that they should end the current armistice regime and establish a permanent peace regime.” The two countries also “agreed to cooperate to push for the issue of declaring the end” of the Korean War.
This pact is very beneficial for Asia, especially South Korea, who invested a significant amount of money in North Korea’s economy and has a vested interest in it’s future.
“South Korea does not want either North Korean troops nor do they want North Korean refugees,” said Pamela Mason, professor of political science at John Carroll University.
China also has a great deal of interest in the outcome of North Korea. They are the only country with any leverage left, because they are one of the only nation’s that has a non-aggressive relationship with North Korea.
They also supply them with oil and some food. One part of the pact that is unclear is what will happen to the weapons-grade enriched plutonium that will be left with North Korea. An editorial in the Oct. 8 The New York Times suggested that China take physical possession of the 50 Kilo’s of plutonium. “China is better than leaving it with Korea,” Mason said.
The other option is the International Atomic Energy Agency, but North Korea does not trust them, according to The AP.
There is some concern that if left in Korea, their leader Kim Jong Il would try to sell the plutonium. North Korea also does not trust the United States. “We [The U.S.] have in some ways boxed ourselves in a corner with a policy of advocating regime change, not only in Korea, but in other countries too,” said Mason.
“North Korea is blackmailing the world and that’s something that needs to be understood,” said Roger Purdy, associate professor of history. “The United States doesn’t like to be blackmailed and the current administration isn’t willing to be blackmailed.”