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Forum Calls for New Approach to NE Asian Denuclearization and Economic Development

By Alan Gua

Photo: Virtual International Forum

ULAANBAATAR (IDN) – Former Mongolian Ambassador to the United Nations and Chairman of Blue Banner NGO of Mongolia Dr Jargalsaikhany Enkhsaikhan believes that “establishing a Northeast Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone (NEA-NWFZ) and providing North Korea with a joint, credible mini-Marshall Plan might be a win-win solution for the Korean Peninsula as well as for overall regional security and development”. [2020-10-02 | 15] BHASA | GERMAN | JAPANESE TEXT VERSION PDF | KOREAN

Both the U.S. and North Korea need to adopt “bold conceptual approaches to resolve security threats on the Korean peninsula, including deterrence that excludes nuclear weapons,” he told an international forum.

International Policy Forum co-sponsored by the Global Peace Foundation, Action for Korea United, One Korea Foundation and Blue Banner was held on September 30 in Mongolia's capital.

The forum organized two parallel roundtables: one on considering the prospects of establishing a NEA-NWFZ that would include security assurances by Russia, China and the USA to the two Koreas and Japan, non-nuclear deterrence, development of a “post-Cold War framework” of regional security cooperation, providing international mini-Marshall Plan to the DPRK and on integrating the latter in the regional economic development.

“Russian and Chinese security assurances would be important in reassuring North Korea that the U.S. assurance would dependable and that NEA-NWFZ would be legally and politically credible,” Enkhsaikhan said, adding that a binding commitment to non-nuclear deterrence would also avert a possible regional nuclear arms race.

Former chief U.S. negotiator during the North Korean nuclear crisis of 1994 and former Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs Dr. Robert Gallucci said that if the issue of NEA-NWFZ is to be pursued it should address the DPRK’s concern about the potential threat  from U.S. weapons as well as the latter’s alliance commitments and its security interests. He added that clear understanding of the term “denuclearization”, the issue of fissile materials, their production facilities and some other issues needed to be duly addressed if there is to be any movement on this issue.

Dr. John Endicott, President of Woosong University, former proponent of limited NEA-NWFZ, said that any concept of a zone in Northeast Asia “must be a process where the building of mutual trust and friendship is realized over time”, and that he would support launching such a process. During the discussion issues of “no first use pledge” and “sole purpose” policies of nuclear-weapon states were touched upon, some supporting such policies, while others viewing that such approaches might undermine the efficacy of nuclear deterrence policy.

View was also expressed that any progress on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula would need a radical change in approaches to the DPRK and developing a reliable regional security mechanism that would include a NEA-NWFZ. In order to improve the over-all security environment, it was pointed out, jointly addressing non-military common security challenges, such as current and possible future pandemics, infrastructure development, fine dust pollution, marine pollution, etc. would be needed.   

The second roundtable considered economic opportunities, examining prospects for regional economic development, with the case study of Mongolia’s transition from a centralized command economy to a free market. Vietnam’s experience was also touched upon. “As governments and large multilateral institutions move slowly,” underlined John Dickson, president of the World Trade Partnership, “it is imperative that contingency plans be considered to enable a peaceful, mutually productive framework for the economic integration of the Korean peninsula.”

Yeqing Li, Senior Fellow on Northeast Asia Peace and Development at the Global Peace Foundation, noted that China was the largest trading partner of both North and South Korea and peaceful unification with the development of infrastructure, manufacturing, tourism, mining and the service sector was “low hanging fruit” for Chinese and regional economic growth.

Some 35 security experts, economists and political scientists from South Korea, China, Japan, Great Britain, Finland, Russia, India, Mongolia and the United States examined these two issues in the context of contributing to ending the 74-year division of the Korean peninsula.

The forum concluded with an agreement by the organizers to establish a regional secretariat to continue in-depth consideration of NEA-NWFZ issue. [IDN-InDepthNews – 02 October 2020]

Photo: (top) Virtual International Forum; (second) Dr. Enkhsaikhan addressing the forum. Credit: The writer.

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