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  • September 18th, 2017

Diplomacy and dialogue the only sane way forward with North Korea

U.S.-ROK military exercise

We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table. Neither shall we flinch even an inch from the road to bolstering up the nuclear forces chosen by ourselves, unless the hostile policy and nuclear threat of the U.S. against the D.P.R.K. are fundamentally eliminated.” [Emphasis added.]

Former Senior American official, and now Visiting Professor Robert Carlin, has catalogued recent North Korean offers to negotiate which typically are along the lines quoted above.

Troublingly, western media all too often report the first, but not the second, part of the North Korean statement.

Also less well-known is that the USA has yet to offer dialogue that is not conditional on North Korea first renouncing nuclear weapons before talks can begin, clearly a non-starter insofar as North Korea is concerned. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein believes that must change:

“The United States must quickly engage North Korea in a high-level dialogue without any preconditions… In my view, diplomacy is the only sound path forward.”

 

“To put this another way, this means that diplomacy has not yet been given a meaningful chance to work.” – former Ambassador Peggy Mason

There is a role for Canada in promoting a diplomatic solution.

Canada needs to get behind the call for dialogue without preconditions. We also need to support the recent offer of diplomatic “good offices” from the UN Secretary-General.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered to play the same diplomatic role with respect to North Korean talks as Germany played in the successful “6 plus one” nuclear talks with Iran.

North Korea may have gone too far down the road of nuclear armament to renounce them entirely. But freezing their capability may be an achievable goal.  And this is the thinking behind a recent joint Russian-Chinese proposal that merits close attention.  They summarize their proposal as follows:

“The Parties are putting forward a joint initiative, which is based on the Chinese-proposed ideas of “double freezing” (missile and nuclear activities by the DPRK and large-scale joint exercises by the United States and the Republic of Korea) and “parallel advancement” towards the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and the creation of peace mechanisms on the peninsula, and the Russian-proposed stage-by-stage Korean settlement plan.”

It is especially urgent that Canada join the call for dialogue between the US and DPRK without preconditions in light of the ominous statements made by President Trump in his UN General Assembly speech on September 19th.

“If [the United States] is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing, and able, but hopefully that will not be necessary.”

For the full text of testimony by Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on National Defence on September 14th, click here.

For journalist David Pugliese’s highlights of the Committee hearings click: Analysis: U.S. would let a nuke missile wipe out a Canadian city – then maybe it’s time for a new ally?

To hear a discussion on CBC’s the Current on Monday, 18 September featuring CBC journalist Murray Brewster, Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason and RMC professor Christian Leuprecht, click: Should Canada join ballistic missile defence program?

 

Photo credit (ROK-U.S. military exercise): Wikimedia.

 

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