US must cooperate with DPRK to restore peace
Talks between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the United States have not progressed as expected after the historic summit between US President Donald Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12. Relations between the two sides took a different turn recently with Pyongyang accusing Washington of "double-dealing" after Trump abruptly called off Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to the DPRK.
The US and the DPRK both insist the other side take the first step to further the process of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula－Washington expects Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program while Pyongyang wants Washington to provide foolproof security guarantee.
Contrary to the US demand that it completely abandon its nuclear program, the DPRK appears ready to give up its nuclear weapons but preserve its nuclear capability, because that is the DPRK's only bargaining chip against the US. But Washington is determined to maintain extreme pressure on Pyongyang to force it to completely abandon its nuclear program.
Many may believe that by completely abandoning its nuclear program, the DPRK could improve relations with the US and other countries, get the sanctions lifted, and thus improve its economy. But the DPRK believes that civilian use of nuclear power may help it to fulfill its electricity demand and thus boost its industrial and agricultural production, as well as meet its civilian needs.
After the DPRK successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile in November that could reach the US mainland, Kim announced that the country "had realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force and becoming a rocket power", and would now focus on economic development for which it needed more electricity. That showed his sincerity to improve the DPRK economy, which in turn could help realize the goal of denuclearization.
Since Kim assumed the DPRK leadership, the country has registered healthy economic growth almost every year and people's living conditions have improved. In fact, quite a few DPRK citizens can now buy expensive goods such as laptops and cars, and many farmers have dramatically increased their production.
Besides, enterprises can set their own production targets depending on their capacity, rather than limit their production according to the central government's directions. They can also trade production factors and materials with enterprises operating within the planned economic system and dispose of residual products to earn more profits.
Apart from economic reform, the DPRK has also made efforts to attract foreign investment, for which it has established more than 20 development zones since 2013.
Given these developments, the DPRK economy seems set to grow.
Therefore, the Washington-Pyongyang negotiations on denuclearization must continue, as they will ensure the smooth progress of not only the Korean Peninsula peace process but also the DPRK economy, which will make the DPRK feel more secure. And the international community, especially the US, the Republic of Korea, the DPRK and China, should make more efforts to ensure the peace process remains on track.
China has been making every possible effort to denuclearize the peninsula, and ROK President Moon Jae-in established the icebreaking contact with the DPRK prompting the latter to take a crucial step toward denuclearizing the peninsula.
By establishing civil contacts and organizing family reunions, aside from promoting political and economic cooperation, Seoul and Pyongyang have set a very good example.
Now, the other countries should make more efforts to narrow the differences between Washington and Pyongyang so that the Korean Peninsula could be denuclearized.
The author is a researcher and secretary general at the Northeast Asia Studies Institute, Jilin Academy of Social Sciences.