Heejae Park OCSA 10th Grade
On June 12, 2018, United States president Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in order to discuss details about relations between the two nations. Much of this conversation included details concerning military practices and potential impacts.
The two leaders each offered their own parts of the agreement, with Trump’s statement promising to suspend military exercises carried out between the US and North Korea.
This statement elicited a wide breadth of reactions, mostly of shock or skepticism of the meeting.
Experts on nuclear programs and representatives of movements made to abolish nuclear armaments were not pleased with the agreement that was reached to by the end of the meeting, claiming that it did not serve the purposes of denuclearization and may have potentially validated the use of nuclear armaments in the political stage.
One of the more critical opinions came from Vipin Narang, an expert on North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. According to Narang on The Guardian, Trump failed to take away Kim’s weapons and instead set a stage where “Even a ‘pipsqueak fourth-rate power’ can bring the US to the table and win if it has nuclear weapons.”
Beatrice Fihn of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons shared this sentiment, as she also mentioned on The Guardian that this agreement essentially was “a big welcome party to the nuclear-armed club.”
Along with this disapproval, governmental officials and spokesmen from the Pentagon and the South Korean Defense Ministry expressed mild surprise at Trump’s promise to halt the military exercises.
Trump’s statement doesn’t seem to have immediately taken effect. According to the New York Times, Ft. Col. Jennifer Lovett of the United States military stated that there hasn’t been an order given to stop training exercises, and American troops will still move ahead with a military exercise in the fall.
Confusion also spread amongst the Pentagon, State Department, and the White House, as people attempted to discern what Trump’s statement would mean for the future of US-South Korean relations.
The suspension of military exercises was a drastic change for South Korea, as these exercises were a large part of relations running between the two nations, being one of the largest joint military exercises across the globe.
Before, these exercises would utilize many computer simulations intended to keep soldiers ready to repel direct conflict with North Korea. Due to this, these military exercises gave a large sense of security for South Korea, which may soon dissolve.
The suspension of these exercises raised doubts and fears in the South Korean capital that the United States were making decisions too quickly. According to the New York Times, The South Korean Defense Ministry gave a statement that it was still figuring out President Trump’s statement and what it would mean for South Korea.
Trump’s statement also gave way to many issues in logistics, as officials are now confused whether only big military exercises will be suspended or if all military ties with South Korea and the US were to be terminated.
<Heejae Park OCSA 10th Grade