For real peace in Korean Peninsula

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IRAQIS know that the US can totally destroy a country with conventional weapons or bomb it into Stone Age. Iraq was a weak enemy unlike North Korea, which, for all practical purposes, is a member of the nuclear family. The North knows only too well that in case of a war, nuclear or conventional, it will be wiped off the face of the earth.

So there is no need for President Donald Trump or Nikki Haley, his ambassador to the UN, to remind North Koreans every now and then of the fate that awaits them in case of a war.

But there is no dearth of warnings from Washington.

On Wednesday, Haley issued another warning to North Korea that should its actions draw the US into war, it would be “utterly destroyed.” If war does come, it will be “because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed yesterday,” Haley told the UN Security Council, referring to Pyongyang’s ballistic missile launch the previous day.

This missile may or may not be capable of reaching the US mainland, but there is no doubt that the launch was a significant step forward in the North’s missile development. The East Asian country has conducted 20 missile tests this year alone.

After the latest launch or provocation, Trump called China’s President Xi Jinping. On Thursday, he criticized the Chinese envoy to North Korea as having ”no impact on Little Rocket Man” and vowed to “take care of it.” Trump has previously threatened that North Korea will be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

But the North remains unperturbed. This despite the fact that Germany has announced the withdrawal of a third diplomat from its embassy in Pyongyang over mounting tension in the Korean Peninsula.

Is a war imminent? In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the refrain in Washington was that “doing nothing is not an option”. But in the case of North Korea, “doing nothing” seems to be the only option available to Trump now.

Some in America and outside, considering Trump’s psychological instability and unpredictable behavior, may fear that he may order a strike against North Korea any time. But contrary to popular perceptions, he is anything but reckless when it comes to North Korea. Trump may say, the North’s leaders “only understand one thing!” and threaten that, “They won’t be around much longer!” but he is fully aware of the limitations of an American president in this respect.

If anything, he has more limitations for three reasons. One, North Korea has gone far ahead in its nuclearization drive. This means the only way to really eliminate the program is to go to the high level use of nuclear weapons. Second, because of this, some in America’s political establishment are seriously thinking of curtailing president’s war-making powers. Third, this president has been issuing so many threats to North Korea that they have ceased to be effective deterrents. An impression is gaining that Trump’s tweets do not mean anything. After all, didn’t he threat to halt US trade with China? The fact is Trump has painted himself into a corner while the “Sick Puppy” in North Korea barks with new and more powerful missiles.

So the only solution is to accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed country with enough safeguards to check the spread of nuclear technology to the North’s neighbors or other countries. US should give up its long-standing position that there will be no peace talks until the North takes irreversible steps toward denuclearization. It will also have to agree to a peace treaty to resolve the many issues that the 1953 armistice has left unaddressed. The Korean War, which raged from 1950 to 1953, was suspended with a ceasefire agreement. The war should come to a formal end if the Korean Peninsula is to enjoy real peace and stability.


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