‘Denuclearization’: More Than Just Two Divergent Conceptions

‘Denuclearization’: More Than Just Two Divergent Conceptions
AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

Introduction

With the forthcoming April 27th inter-Korean summit meeting and a potential U.S.-North Korea summit meeting in May, there is growing hope of realizing a nuclear-free and peaceful Korean peninsula. Since North Korea's nuclear weapons program is what has brought about these historic opportunities, there is no doubt that the main agenda of the two summits should be denuclearization. The fact that there exist two divergent conceptions of denuclearization will be a critical obstacle to the success of the summits. While South Korea and the United States' denuclearization means the two Koreas' renunciation of nuclear weapons programs and nothing more, North Korea's denuclearization aims at prohibiting South Korea's nuclear development, pushing American forces out of the peninsula, and breaking up the ROK-U.S. alliance. The two sides pursue starkly different objectives under the same banner of denuclearization; we are two different people wearing the same hat.

This fundamental conceptual difference is not well understood because it was forged about 30 years ago when the North Korean nuclear issue first arose. Carrying the banner of denuclearization, North Korea has created smoke screens by pretending to give up its nuclear development. It has purposefully confused the original meaning of denuclearization and deceived South Korea and the United States. Whenever signing major agreements on denuclearization, Pyongyang lured Seoul and Washington into believing that it would dismantle its nuclear programs, while never giving up the ultimate objectives of its nuclear program: domination over South Korea, eviction of U.S. forces from the peninsula, and the destruction of the ROK-US alliance. North Korea and the ROK-U.S. alliance are dreaming two different dreams while lying in the same bed.

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