It has been over 100 days since the inter-Korean summit on April 27 and two months since the US-North Korean summit.
But the denuclearization process that the world has been waiting for is in a state of deadlock now.
The US and North Korea are still disagreeing over the interpretation of the Singapore Agreement which is only just a single page document.
North Korea is sticking with its ‘Order Theory’ which states that the end-of-war declaration should be announced first and then the denuclearization process next.
On the other hand, the US stands by its ‘Denuclearization Progress First Theory’ which states that reporting nuclear facilities and announcing the denuclearization road map by North Korea first.
The US understands that the core of the agreement made in Singapore is ‘denuclearization first before the end-of-war declaration’.
The cause of the different interpretations is that the issues of the denuclearization and peace settlement on Korean Peninsular have not been put in the one basket and the Singapore agreement has not specified the order what should be solved first.
Thus, it is only natural that the announcement of the third inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang in September gives us new hopes and expectations.
It is the first time that the leaders of South and North Korea will meet three times in one year since the division of the Korean Peninsular.
This fact should of course be welcomed.
Right now the world is focusing on how the inter-Korean summit will push forward the issue of North Korea’s denuclearization, which is currently in a stalemate.
For this to be achieved, South Korea should not give in to North Korea but make it clear that there is a precise order to be followed.
Only when North Korea’s denuclearization process advances first, then will peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula follow, which will then lead to the lifting of sanctions against North Korea.
At the third summit, the issue of adopting the end-of-war declaration by the end of the year should be put in the same basket with the denuclearization process including a timeline for North Korea’s denuclearization and a list of verifiable nuclear facilities.
This is the only way to overcome the conflicting claims of the Panmunjom Declaration and US-North Korea Singapore agreement and can push North Korea and the US towards denuclearization, the end-of-war declaration and a partial lifting of sanctions.
Failing to present a clear road map for denuclearization even after three summits between the two Koreas, will only cause the US to have more doubts about the sincerity of the denuclearization of North Korea and may even lead to a distrust against the South Korean government.
The formal declaration of the end of the war is a political declaration that will state that South and North Korea and the United States will commit themselves to future peace.
However, announcing a declaration of end to any fights with no picture of how North Korea will dismantle its nuclear weapons basically means that North Korea will move forward for a peace while keeping its’ nuclear weapons.
The declaration of the end of the war without a goal for North Korea’s denuclearization may be understood to accept North Korea’s current possession of nuclear weapons.
At the moment, North Korea has demanded the withdrawals of UN Security Council Resolutions 2356, 2371 and 2375 as a follow-through after the declaration of the end-of-war in exchange of its suspension of nuclear tests and rocket launches and dismantlement of test sites.
North Korea’s demand to lift these UN resolutions ahead of UN resolution 2397, which was enacted with the purpose of dismantling North Korea’s ICBMs, has revealed that North Korea wants to keep its nuclear and ICBM during the transitional period between the end-of-war declaration and adoption of the peace treaty.
Only by linking the reconciliation, cooperation and exchanges between the two Koreas to the process of dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons, will North-South Korean relations lead to a stable and continuous progress.