Just the Facts

Five Facts on What's at Stake at the North Korea Summit

By No Labels
June 8, 2018 | Blog

On June 12 President Trump will hold a landmark summit with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un.  While the talks will not include leaders from other nations, several countries around the world have important national security and economic interests that are heavily dependent on the outcome of the summit.  Here are 5 facts to know about the summit:

America’s primary objective for the June summit is the denuclearization of North Korea

President Trump has stated that North Korea must be willing to denuclearize and that he is prepared to walk away from the summit if he feels the North is not receptive to his demands. In addition, he hopes to normalize the strained relations between the United States and North Korea and is in favor of formally bringing the Korean War to an end, provided North Korea is prepared to meet the U.S.’s conditions.

South Korea hopes that the ongoing talks with North Korea will bring about an end in hostilities between the two countries and the denuclearization of North Korea

Current South Korean President Moon Jae-in, has expressed his desire to establish sustainable diplomatic relations with the North. In a monumental step, leaders from the two nations recently released a joint statement affirming their commitment to bringing about an official end to the Korean War and to remove all nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula.

While China supports attempts to denuclearize North Korea, it is intent on sustaining its influence over the country

China has been one of North Korea’s most trusted allies since the Korean War. For years, the Chinese have opposed harsh sanctions on North Korea and worked to prop up the Kim dynasty. They view the North as an important buffer between them and South Korea, a close American ally.  Additionally, China fears the collapse of the Kim regime will start a refugee crisis, as millions of North Koreans would seek refuge in China. However, in November 2017, in the wake of  a North Korean missile test, China expressed “grave concern and opposition” towards the North Korean nuclear program.

Japan’s primary concern is their national security 

Japan’s desire is for the United States to push for a complete removal of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, as there is fear that the U.S. might permit North Korea to retain missiles that can reach Japan in exchange for the elimination of their intercontinental missile capabilities. However, Japan appears to have very little leverage. In 2018, Kim Jong Un has met bilaterally with leaders from South Korea, China, Russia, and the U.S.— but not Japan. In addition, Japan is still in the process of remilitarization—as they were forbidden from sustaining an army after World War II—and is therefore unable to rely on its own military to respond to most threats.

Russia is intent on preventing an increase in U.S. influence in Asia

Russia has maintained steady relations with North Korea for decades and has strong economic ties with the country. While Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised President Trump’s decision to hold the summit, calling it “very brave and mature,” some experts fear that Putin could use his close ties with North Korea to complicate negotiations.  Putin is intent on ensuring that U.S. influence in Asia does not increase and views North Korea and its nuclear program as a useful tool in his broader strategy of de-stabilizing the West.

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