A Comprehensive Policy for Northeast Asian Peace and
South-North Korean Unification:
by Dr. Yang-Taek Lim*, Professor of Economics and Dean of the College of Economics
and Finance, Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea
Representative of Korean Unification Movement Organization of Heung Sa Dan
and Chairman of the Policy Committee
The purpose of this study is to propose a ‘comprehensive solution’ for the Northeast Asian peace and Korean unification, which is designed to find some way out of the standstill ‘9.19 Beijing Joint Declaration’ of 2005 and the ‘2·13 Joint Agreement’ of 2007, in regard to the ‘five-stage integration approach’ (peace settlement → economic integration → socio-cultural integration → political integration → military integration) of the author (1993, 1995e, 1997, 1999c, 2000, 2001, 2002a, 2005 and 2007). This study has also proposed a Korean unification policy characterized by PCI (Peace, Cooperation and Integration), based on the three principles : 1) parallel pursuit of peace settlement and economic cooperation; 2) separation between international politics and economic cooperation; and 3) compliance with international laws. Furthermore, the proposed ‘Comprehension Policy’ approaches the human rights issue in North Korea in the following way: 1) dealing with human rights in North Korea from a humanitarian standpoint; 2) no use of the human rights issue as a tool to change the North Korean regime; and 3) no linkage with South Korea-North Korea relationship and the North Korean nuclear issue. Finally, the author recommends the two Koreas and four powers (USA, Japan, China and Russia) to construct a ‘Northeast Asian Peace City’ in Zangdan County (around the DMZ) and to launch and execute some joint projects for peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia, such as development of oil and gas wells in Irkutsk and Sakhalin, construction of oil and gas pipelines for the wells, and linkage of traffic network with TKR (Trans Korea Railway), TSR (Trans Siberian Railway) and TCR (Trans China Railway).
After a long period of difficulties, the countries which participated in the six-party talks adopted the '2·13 Joint Agreement' in 2007 as an initial measure of ‘the 9.19 Beijing Joint Declaration’ in 2005. As shown by Table 1, according to the Joint Agreement, Pyongyang agreed to close and seal the nuclear facility in Yongbyon and report its nuclear programs, while other participants in the talks promised to provide energy and economic support for North Korea in return.
In this way, the US has shifted from the ‘Benign Neglect Policy’ and CVID (Complete, Verifiable and Irreversible Dismantlement) to the ‘Negotiation Strategy’ and the Realistic Approach of focusing on ‘easy things first and then difficult ones’ for the freezing of additional nuclear activities and prevention of nuclear proliferation. What prompted the US into action? Along with the urgent problems, such as the Republican Party’s defeat in the mid-term election and continuing Middle East issues, the US seemed to be concerned that delay in the solution of the North Korean nuclear problem might increase the nuclear weapons of North Korea and bring about the situation where North Korea is inevitably recognized to be a ‘de facto’ nuclear-armed nation.
In fact, North Korea launched seven missiles on a trial basis on July 5, 2006, including the long distance missile Daepodong 2, which can theoretically strike the United States. Although the long distance ICBM () exploded 40 seconds after its launch, it still demonstrated its inability to carry a nuclear warhead, and the experiment proved that North Korea can be a menace to the US The experimental launch was followed by another North Korean nuclear experiment on October 9, 2006. This experiment was performed on a small scale of less than 1 kiloton, however it demonstrated North Korean nuclear capability and proved a partial success of the country’s nuclear program.
At present, North Korea is in violation of the NPT (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty), and the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspectors were exiled from North Korea long ago. Therefore, it is increasingly possible for North Korea to develop a long range ICBM that can strike the United States. Also, the nuclear experiment of North Korea on October 9, 2006 increases the danger that Japan and China may enter into a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia.
However, no start of initial-phase measures had been seen. The initial measures specified in the '2·13 Joint Agreement' of the Six-Party Talks were scheduled to be implemented by April 14, 2007, i.e. 60 days after the 'Joint Agreement'. The Department of Defense of the US government announced that the deadline would be extended. North Korea demanded the US government release the USD 25 million which has been frozen at the BDA (Banco Delta Asia) in Macao. This was a kind of self-contradictory measure in that the money could not be remitted to Pyongyang because of its status of being frozen by the US-driven financial sanctions against the North Korean account at the BDA.
[Table 1] A Framework for Northeast Asian Peace and Korean Reunification:
In a surprise move, Christopher Hill, Washington’s Chief U.S. nuclear negotiator to the six-party nuclear talks arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday (June 21) for a two-day visit. He is trying to speed up implementation of the Feb. 13 agreement since North Korea’s shutdown of its nuclear facilities has been delayed by over two months due to problems in the transfer of North Korean funds locked in Macau’s Banco Delta Asia. Met by Li Gun, Pyongyang’s director general of North American affairs, at the airport, Hill told the the pro-Pyongyang Chosun Sinbo newspaper, “We want to make progress in the six-party talks. I am hoping that we can make up for the loss of time.”
Lim Sungnam, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s North Korean division, who is also a delegate to the six-party talks said “The United States has explained that the visit will serve to make up for lost time as discussions will be focused on implementing the Feb. 13 deal”. And “As for the North, discussion on implementation is important, but they are more interested in ties with Washington, which is an issue also covered in the February deal.”
Hill’s first visit to North Korea comes as the banking dispute over North Korean funds in Macao has finally been resolved, leading to hopes that the talks can get back to business. Pyongyang is awaiting food and fuel shipments tied to progress on closing its nuclear program. A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency is scheduled to go to the North next week.
Washington expects Hill's visit to serve as a catalyst for early implementation of the Feb. 13 agreement, although some in the Bush administration felt Hill should have visited only when the nuclear facilities at Yongbyon have been shut down. Instead, the U.S. may consider sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice once that happens, a diplomatic source in Washington said.
China and Japan are watching Hill's visit to Pyongyang with cautious optimism, though Tokyo once again stressed the issue of the Japanese citizens abducted by the North in the 1970s and 1980s. In China on Thursday (June 21), Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Beijing hopes the visit “will be conducive to implementing the initial actions” under the February accord “and be of benefit to improving relations between North Korea and the U.S.". Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan will watch and see how Hill's visit develops. “North Korea has yet to carry out its initial steps and it is important that these measures are first fulfilled,” he said. Earlier, Foreign Minister Taro Aso spoke with Rice on the phone, asking for Hill to convey a message that Japan is also willing to normalize ties and hopes in return for a swift resolution of the abduction issue.
Now, North Korea and the U.S. have returned to the pace and atmosphere that existed when both sides held working level talks in New York last March over normalizing ties. At that time, the breadth of topics discussed and the candidness of the talks surprised everyone. There is a strong possibility that both sides will discuss the removal of North Korea from Washington’s list of terror supporting nations and exemption from a trade ban on hostile countries, while reaching an agreement over resuming the six-party nuclear talks in July.
All of these steps are designed to lead to North Korea’s nuclear dismantlement. The shutdown of North Korea’s nuclear facilities, which marks the first step of the February 13 Agreement, means just the beginning of a long journey, since the Yongbyon reactor is actually just a hunk of rusty metal. North Korea must report its fissile materials and incapacitate its nuclear facilities. Until this point is reached, there can be no assurance that North Korea has made the firm decision to move toward abandoning its nuclear program. At this point, nobody knows whether that will happen. Sounding out a completely different message in talks with U.S. officials in New York in March, North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan has asked whether the U.S. could forge diplomatic ties with Pyongyang, considering the communist country as a nuclear power like India.
Surely, in view of the nuclear issue as a whole, in the future the BDA funds can be released, and therefore the ‘2·13 Joint Agreement’ is very likely to go on smoothly until the fulfillment of its initial-phase measures. In fact, the six-party talks' participants have made positive efforts via diplomatic channels, including working-level discussions for a normalized US-North Korea relationship, and Pyongyang's invitation to Mohamed Elbaradei, the Director General of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).
Some questions may be asked: Will it be possible for North Korea to undertake the freezing, closing and sealing, disablement and CVID (Complete, Verifiable, Irreversible Dismantlement) of its nuclear weapons? When and how will the North Korean nuclear weapons be dismantled completely?
The problem is that from the perspective of the Bush administration, it needs diplomatic achievements, while South Korea faces presidential elections, tempting both countries to exaggerate each step in the nuclear dismantlement process. And such conditions may cause diplomats to fixate on holding showy meetings or drafting joint statements with fine languages. But if such events cloud the main goals of North Korea’s nuclear dismantlement, then the nuclear crisis will become a chronic dilemma.
The purpose of this study is to propose a ‘comprehensive solution’ for the Northeast Asian peace and Korean unification, which is designed to find some way out of the standstill ‘9.19 Beijing Joint Declaration’ of 2005 and the ‘2·13 Joint Agreement’ of 2007, in regard to the ‘five-stage integration approach’ (peace settlement → economic integration → socio-cultural integration → political integration → military integration) of the author (1993, 1995e, 1997, 1999c, 2000, 2001, 2002a, 2005 and 2007). Accordingly, this proposal seems to be more comprehensive and concrete ‘Northeast Asian Peace Agreement’ than the Joint Agreement signed by the participants (USA, North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia) in the Six-Party Talks.1)
II. Proposal of the ‘Northeast Asian Peace Treaty’
It is most important to smoothly solve the North Korean nuclear issue in order to realize Northeast Asian peace and Korean reunification.2) To this end, the '2·13 Joint Agreement' must be fulfilled in good faith. However, due to the points previously mentioned, the author is skeptical of the possibility that North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons. Standing alongside the author position is John Hamre (former US deputy secretary of defense under the Clinton government), the President and CEO of the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies), who states that he is "hopeful but skeptical" in regard to North Korea’s abandonment of their nuclear weapons program (Joong-ang Daily, April 16, 2007).
Moreover, many challenges should be met to set the stage for disablement and CVID because the ‘2·13 Joint Agreement’ has differences in its interpretations among the talks' participants, and no mention of current nuclear weapons and highly enriched uranium (HEU) has been integrated into this agreement. In particular, CVID requires the closing of current nuclear facilities and disposal of extracted plutonium and nuclear weapons. Additionally, the problems such as export of nuclear materials and HEU should be discussed and solved later.
The only route that the two Korean governments and other powers can choose is not the 'South African road' but rather the 'Libyan road'.3) Under the assumption that this view is correct, the author insists that the Chinese prime minister, Hu Jintao, must negotiate with Kim Jong-il to induce him to give up North Korea’s nuclear program just as Tony Blair succeeded in persuading Muammar al-Qaddafi to abandon the Libyan nuclear program. However, different thoughts exist between the UK and China, and between Muammar al-Qadafi and Kim Jong-il. Therefore, the author urges Washington and Pyongyang to accept and execute the author’s ‘A Comprehensive Policy for Northeast Asian Peace and South-North Korean Unification : ‘Think Big, Act Big’ on North Korean Nuclear Issue’, the measures of which are summarized in Table 2.
[Table 2] Proposal of ‘Northeast Asian Peace Treaty’:
What should be noted is that the US should implement first the above suggestions under the preconditions of respect for the mutual sovereignty and peaceful coexistence with North Korea. In the North Korea-US talks, North Korea has focused on ‘economic support first and nuclear freezing after’, while the US has insisted on ‘freezing of North Korea’s nuclear and biochemical weapons first and then economic support for North Korea’. Even if the US declares the above suggestions first, it has nothing to lose. On the contrary, if North Korea does not accept the US’s suggestions above, it will be blamed by the international community for the resulting continuation of the current highly threatening situation.
The proposal above, “A Comprehensive Policy for Northeast Asian Peace and South-North Korean Unification: ‘Think Big, Act Big’ on North Korean Nuclear Issue” can be considered to be significant in consideration of the facts described below. ‘The 2·13 Joint Agreement’ of 2007 in connection with ‘The 9·19 Beijing Joint Declaration’ of 2005, which is more binding than the ‘North Korea-USA Geneva Agreed Framework’ of October 21, 1994, mentioned the abandonment of all nuclear weapons and nuclear programs of North Korea, respect of mutual sovereignty, and peaceful coexistence. However, North Korea launched the Daepodong 2 missile on July 5, 2006, and announced nuclear testing on October 9th of the same year. The UN Security Council voted unanimously for the resolution of sanctions against North Korea on October 14, 2006, and the US clamped down on North Korea according to the PSI (Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation Security Initiative).
Therefore, it is worthwhile to consider the above suggestions of the author as an attempt to ensure smooth fulfillment of the ‘2·13 Joint Agreement’ of 2007 for a peace settlement regarding Northeast Asia and the sound foundation for South/North Korean reunification, the framework for which is summarized in Table 3.
[Table 3] Proposal of Five-Stage Approach to Korean Reunification
III. Concluding Remarks
Advocating a shift from the ‘Sunshine Policy’ to ‘a Comprehension Policy’ for Northeast Asian peace and South-North Korean unification which has been presented in this paper, the author has proposed a Korean unification policy characterized by PCI (Peace, Cooperation and Integration), which can remedy the conflictive relationship of the two Koreas through South/North Korean economic cooperation and peace settlement on the Korean peninsula. The proposed ‘Comprehension Policy’ emphasizes compliance with three principles : 1) exclusion of absorptive unification ; 2) active pursuit of peace and cooperation ; and 3) compliance with international norms. Also, the bases of the policy are : 1) parallel pursuit of peace settlement and economic cooperation; 2) separation between international politics and economic cooperation; and 3) compliance with international laws. Finally, the proposed ‘Comprehension Policy’ approaches the human rights issue in North Korea in the following way: 1) dealing with human rights in North Korea from a humanitarian standpoint; 2) no use of the human rights issue as a tool to change the North Korean regime; and 3) no linkage with South Korea-North Korea relationship and the North Korean nuclear issue.
It may take a long time for the proposed ‘Northeast Asian Peace Agreement’ to be entered into and put into effect. Therefore, for the case that the North Korean nuclear issue stands still in its way, the author presents a solution for the promotion of economic cooperation between the two Koreas: level-up and expansion of the economic cooperation between the two Koreas to the dimension of Northeast Asian economic cooperation, and transformation of the issues on economic cooperation between the two Koreas to those of Northeast Asian economic cooperation. As the four powers around the Korean peninsula jointly launch and execute some Northeast Asian economic cooperation projects, they can allow North Korea to join it, depending on the degree of North Korea’s fulfillment of the Joint Agreement (nuclear freezing → closure/sealing → disablement · CVID). For North Korea’s economic survival, it will have no option other than to actively participate in the project.
In the process, North Korea will realize that it has to seriously consider why China signed the CEPA (Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement) to attract Hong Kong capital in its initial stage of economic development, why China adopted the Act for Favorable Treatment of Chinese People Living In Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with the US (1972), and why Vietnam attracted US capital through its improved relationship with the United States.
Drennan, William M. (2003), "Special Report: A Comprehensive Resolution of the Korean War," Special Report 106 (Washington: United States Institute of Peace, May).
Drennan, William M. (2006), "Military Implications of a Peace Regime for the Korean Peninsula" (working paper, Atlantic Council working group on North Korea).
Goodby, James (2005), "The Six-Party Talks: Opportunity or Obstacle," (Washington: The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars).
Katzman, Kenneth (2006), "US-North Korea Relations: An Analytic Compendium of US Policies, Laws and Regulations" (Washington: Atlantic Council of the United States).
Lim, Yang-Taek (1993), A New Proposal for the Reunification of Korea based on its Economic Integration, Seoul : The Mail Economic Daily Press, November.
Lim, Yang-Taek (1995), “Crisis in Korean Peninsula and Choice of Korea”, Collected Papers of Northern Studies, Issue 1, Seoul : The Korea Association of Northern Studies, October.
Lim, Yang-Taek (1997), "A New Proposal for the Reunification of the Two Koreas: Economic Issues", Journal of Asian Economics, Vol. 8, No. 4, Winter.
Lim, Yang-Taek (1999), “South-North Korean Reunification Model and Civilian Movement”, Dosan Collected papers, No. 7, Seoul : Dosan Academy Institute : March.
Lim, Yang-Taek (2001), "A New Proposal for a Northeast Asian ‘Peace City’ for Securing Peace and Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula", The Bi-Monthly Journal of the BWW Society, Institute for the Advancement of Positive Global Solutions, Vol. I, No. 2, November/December.
Lim, Yang-Taek (2002), “Peace and Security on the Korean Peninsula : New Ideas and a Blueprint for Progress”, The Journal of Global Issues and Solutions, BWW Society & the Institute for the Advancement of Positive Global Solutions, May~June.
Lim, Yang-Taek (2002), “A Third Approach to South-North Korean Reunification and Northeast Asian Peace System”, paper presented at the Reunification Academy Seminar held by HeungSaDan National Reunification Movement Headquarter, Seoul, July 22.
Lim, Yang-Taek (2005), “Reunification of South and North Korea and Peace Settlement in Northeast Asia”, paper presented at the 8th Anniversary of the Korean Reunification Academy, HeungSaDan National Reunification Movement headquarter, March 5.
Lim, Yang-Taek (2007), “A National Strategy for Korean Unification and Northeast Asian Peace”, paper presented at the 9th Unification Education Forum, HeungSaDan National Reunification Movement headquarter, April 25.
Noland, Marcus (2006), "The Legal Framework of US-DPRK Trade Relations" (Washington: Institute for International Economics).
O'Neill, Aloysius M. (2006), "Inter-Korean CBMs and Their Role in a Peace Regime" (working paper, Atlantic Council working group on North Korea).
Romberg, Alan (2006), "Permanent Peace on the Korean Peninsula", Korea and World Affairs, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Fall) : 309-326.
Sigal, Leon V. (2006), "Building a Peace Regime in Korea: An American View", International Journal of Korean Unification Studies, Vol. 15, No. 1 : 30-52.
Straub, David (2006), "US's Viewpoint toward a Peace Forum on the Korean Peninsula", June 9 (paper presented to the International Conference on a Peace Forum on the Korean Peninsula, Seoul, Korea).
Sutter, Robert (2006), "South Korea Re-Calibrates Relations with the US and China - Implications for a Prospective Peace Regime with North Korea" (working paper, Atlantic Council working group on North Korea).
* Dean of College of Economics and Finance, Hanyang University, 17 Haengdang-dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul, 133-791, Korea, email@example.com.
 Hill is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit North Korea in almost five years. His predecessor, James Kelly, went to Pyongyang in 2002. Hill flew in on a military aircraft out of the U.S. air base in Osan, south of Seoul shortly after arriving in South Korea from Japan on Thursday morning. He arrived in Pyongyang at 12:35 p.m. and returns to Osan on Friday afternoon before flying back to Washington. Hill, an assistant secretary of state, is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the Stalinist nation in the four years and eight months since a trip by his predecessor James Kelly. But the process is more reminiscent of an exchange of visits in 2000 between U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright and Vice Marshal Cho Myong-rok to discuss normalization of ties. At the time, Cho delivered a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to president Bill Clinton, and Albright met with Kim on her reciprocal visit.
1) For a discussion on ‘opportunity or obstacle’ of the Six-Party Talks, see Goodby (2005).
2) For various issues on a ‘Peace Regime’ on the Korean Peninsula, see Drennan (2003 and 2006), O’Neill (2006), Romberg (2006), Sigal (2006), Sutter (2006), Straub (2006), etc.
3) For a detailed US Libyan relations, see Katzman (2006).
4) For the legal framework of US-DPRK Trade Relations, see Noland (2006).
5) See Noland (2006).
6) See O’Neill (2006).
7) See Drennan(2003 and 2006).
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