US, allies must react positively to NK move

North Korea announced a halt to its nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches Saturday. This was unimaginable six moths ago. Yet, this major leap happened right before our eyes. All parties, including the US, South Korea and Japan should cherish this hard-won state of affairs.

All relevant parties should make continuous efforts to lead the peninsula into a state of permanent peace and denuclearization, rather than seeing today’s achievements slip through their fingers and witness a resumption in the fierce confrontations of last year.

There is still a long way to go to realize full denuclearization on the peninsula. But since Pyongyang showed a willingness to talk, the goal should be achievable.

North Korea has made the decision to shift its focus to economic construction. This seems to be its strategic determination. International society, first of all, the US, South Korea, Japan and the West, should rid themselves of their stereotyped view about a “demon” North Korea and deal with it as a normal country to push it to abandon its nuclear programs.

Washington should not regard North Korea’s halt to nuclear and missile tests as a result of its maximum pressure. It must be attributed to multiple factors, one of which is that Pyongyang has mastered certain advanced nuclear technologies and successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of more than 10,000 kilometers.

If Washington still wants to coerce Pyongyang to abandon nuclear weapons with maximum pressure, it will be dangerous, and neither China nor South Korea will agree to such an approach. It will probably herald a return to even more intense turmoil.

The international community should encourage North Korea by lifting some sanctions and resuming certain exchanges, showing North Korea the huge benefits its return to the international fold will bring, and the significance abandoning its nuclear weapons will have on its security.

Pyongyang has paid a hefty price for its pursuit of nuclear weapons. It will only abandon its weapons program if it believes that giving it up will bring more benefits than keeping it.

Nuclear weapons are the cornerstone of the deterrence of major powers. But they are rarely used as a daily tool for strategic competition. If it had not been squeezed by the US-South Korea alliance in security, nuclear weapons would not have been so attractive to North Korea.

As long as the security improves, North Korea, which hopes to accelerate economic development, will come to feel that their nuclear arsenal is a burden.

North Korea has been locked into a competition for military deterrence. The US-South Korea alliance is primarily responsible for this.

In the future, Pyongyang should be pushed to engage in an economic competition in Northeast Asia. Pyongyang is unable to realize this change by itself, so to a certain extent, it regarded its nuclear cache as a way to achieve peace and prosperity.

The US is still key to the future peninsula situation, and South Korea wields influence on the US’ attitude. Seoul has played a role since the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, and it needs to urge Washington to continue making adjustments.

Source: Global Times