05 Sep 2018
Korean Peninsula has been ravaged by war for almost 65 years. Armistice efforts throughout the decades’ long war have been unsuccessful, partly owing to the involvement of many parties, including the United States, China, and Russia. Hope for the contested border is on the horizon following a historic summitbetween leaders of the North and South. Kim Jong-Un and Moon Jae-in agreed to work towards a peace deal that would formally bring an end to the conflict. The deal is set to be announced later in 2018.
- Complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,
- Phased military arms reduction,
- Cessation of hostile acts,
- Transformation of the fortified border into a peace zone, and
- Seeking of multilateral talks with other countries
Establishment of a “permanent” and “solid” peace would have immense ramifications for the Peninsula border. Making up for over 70 years of breakup due to conflict is no small feat. The initial armistice in 1953 failed to yield a lasting solution because there was no agreement on a peace treaty.
The face of newfound peace
Peace at the Korean Peninsula will be defined by tensions from both sides and allies. This is bound to happen despite the pledge to ease military tension, a process that involves a return of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) to its original state. Such a declaration would raise pertinent questions about the North’s nuclear programs. The tension would be an outcome of distrust and discord given the possibility of an agreement for the two countries to pull back force from the border.
The gesture would establish a system that allows inspections of each side to ascertain compliance.
A deal may also be struck to set up joint teams to clear the area of landmines in the DMZ. The zone is rich in wildlife and could serve as a park and a destination for tourist from the North and South. Having experienced decades of conflict, the region has plenty of approaches and opportunities exist to create tolerance and trust.
Possible economic ties
Economic prosperity following a peace deal in the Korean Peninsula is unlikely. The conflict damaged economic ties between the North and South irreparably. The South’s strong stance to refuse economic would persist unless America agrees to relax sanctions and the North follows through with complete denuclearization.
Initial efforts at peace in 2007 collapsed during negotiations in 2008 following North Korea’s refusal to allow inspectors into its nuclear facilities. The perception of economic ties as a distant goal stems from varied understandings of what denuclearization, a central aspect of the peace deal, means to the different parties involved.
North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, and the US all have interests in the Peninsula peace deal.
Peace and denuclearization are the first items on the agenda.
However, the North’s stance is that it will only give up its nukes if the U.S. removes its own from the region. On the other hand, the North’s long-term objective is economic prosperity and nukes are necessary leverage to bring the west to the table. Calls to get rid of the sanctions are a testament to this.
China shares similar sentiments driven by the desire to weaken the influence of the U.S. in the region. On the contrary, the South is insistent on denuclearization of the North and increased U.S protection. The South’s needs resonate with those of the U.S., a party faulted for seeking domination in the region.
Peace on the Korean Peninsula is every country’s aspiration. However, fears of the possibility of the North to renegade on the deal exist. After all, it will not be the first time. On the other hand, a successful peace treaty would open the region to economic ties following the removal of sanctions.