The PyeongChang Winter Olympics may not have filled the seats but it may have accomplished a feat that deserves a gold medal. In a surprising development, South Korea reported that North Korea indicated it was willing to talk to the United States about giving up its nuclear weapons.
Chung Eui-yong, South Korea’s national security chief also disclosed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has agreed to suspend all nuclear and missile testing during the on-going talks with South Korea. Chung said North Korea was receptive to the idea of engaging the United States in an “open ended dialogue to discuss the issue of denuclearization and to normalize relations with North Korea.”
According to Chung, North Korea’s main concern was the perceived threat to their regime. If the military threat can be resolved, North Korea agreed there would be no need to retain nuclear weapons.
The progressive development in the dialogue between the two Koreas were very surprising considering that only a few months ago, North Korea issued statements its missiles had the capabilities of reaching the United States and destroying several of its key cities. Kim Jong Un even talked about having a “red button on his desk”.
The development is a definite win for South Korean President Moon Jae-In who used the Olympics to reach out to North Korea. Although President Moon agreed in imposing UN sanctions on North Korea, mostly due to pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump, reports said he was apprehensive in doing so and considered dialogue as the best option.
The Winter Olympics gave President Moon the opportunity to stage a meeting with Kim Jong Un, his sister Kim Yo Jong, Chung and South Korean spy chief, Suh Hong.
Both Moon and Kim have agreed to have a summit in April at the Panmunjom Peace House in South Korea. This is a demilitarized zone which divides the two Koreas.
The United States and South Korea postponed their planned joint military exercises for the Winter Olympics. However the exercises were expected to resume once the Paralympics end in March. There is no word whether these latest developments in the peace process will terminate the need for the military drills.