Seoul contemplates slackening the sanctions after Pyongyang agrees to participate in the Winter Olympics. The officials from both sides met on Jan 9, 2018 for the first time after a span of two years. North Korea consented to conduct military talks with South Korea as they proceed on to lower tensions, that till last year headed towards the brink of confrontation.
The progress happened in the course of the first bilateral mediation between the two Koreas after two years, during which North Korea acceded to dispatch a contingent of athletes as well as politicians to the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month. This move was cordially welcomed by Seoul, which appointed President Moon Jae-in on a political stance of maintaining a policy of rapproachment towards North Korea.
This warming up towards Pyongyang can complicate Washington’s push to exert “maximum pressure” on North Korea to freeze its rapid nuclear weapons plan. Donald Trump, who had earlier pledged to initiate “fire and fury” on to North Korea if it continues to intimidate the US, has lowered his rhetoric in coming days. Trump also expressed that he supported the restarting of exchanges “100 percent” and would prefer to see it extending beyond the Olympics.
In fact, the outlook to improve relations that involves an offer made by Seoul to contemplate easing some sanctions though temporarily to permit the Olympic delegation from Pyongyang to come into their territory can torpedo US endeavor to bind together a global attempt to inhibit Pyongyang of finance and allies.
The move to disembark from the nuclear tightrope might be an attempt by Kim Jong Un to solicit Seoul farther away from the hostile Mr Trump. While it carried out friendly advances towards South Korea, North Korea persisted in its provocation of U.S. “North Korea’s weapons are only aimed at the United States, not our brethren, China or Russia,” mentioned Ri Son Gwon, chief of the North Korean contingent to the deliberations. The indications of a new method devised by Kim Jong of engaging with South Korea while keeping a hard line with U.S. figured in his new year announcement where he cautioned Trump of having a “nuclear button” on his table, even though he hinted that the course of dialogue with South Korea remained open.
Actually, North Korea stands to lose nothing either politically or economically by conducting talks with South Korea, while at the same time it will also serve as a sensible strategy to create a chasm between Washington and South Korea. However, US experts are critical of the fact that the Olympic agreement would develop into warming up of relations. They believe that North Korea does not maintain their bargains and is looking for an entry towards hard currency.
Besides the Olympics proposal and the chances of military deliberations, South Korea also expressed the likelihood of reunion of families severed by the Korean war of 1950-53, a powerful indication of Seoul’s bigger plans behind the talks. However, the North Korean contingent heard Seoul’s plea for holding talks directed at de-nuclearisation and no particular references were made on global sanctions.
Further, various analysts believe that permitting participation of North Korea in the Olympics would amount to legitimizing its government, mentioning that South Africa of the apartheid-era was disallowed to participate in the games. Will US boycott the Olympics if North Korea participates remains a million-dollar question?