President Trump is traveling to Vietnam this week to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a summit to discuss the future of nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula. The primary topics to be discussed include denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and a possible end to sanctions against North Korea. Following on last year’s summit in Singapore, in which Trump became the first US President to meet with a North Korean head of state, expectations surrounding this summit are high. Coming away with anything less than a firm roadmap for denuclearization would be seen as a resounding failure.
Thankfully things are looking bright for the future of a non-nuclear North Korea. Sources have stated that Kim Jong Un does not want to burden his children with nuclear weapons. While he is only 35 years old, he is rumored to be in poor health due to his predilection for rich fatty food. And with much of the North Korean population continually at risk of starvation and Kim’s grasp on power dependent on the support of his military leaders, he may also not want to leave nuclear weapons in the hands of those leaders in the event that he dies or is overthrown.
South Korea is also speculating that Trump and Kim may move to announce a peace deal at the upcoming summit. The peninsula has been in a state of permanent ceasefire since the end of all-out hostilities in 1953, meaning that war could technically break out at any moment. Because of the lack of a peace deal, the border between North and South Korea remains highly militarized, and over the decades numerous skirmishes have taken place, resulting in the deaths of numerous American, South Korean, and North Korean soldiers. A peace deal would go a long way towards ratcheting down tensions on the peninsula.
We should all be hopeful for a resolution to the crisis in Korea. As a potential flashpoint for conflict for decades and with the specter of war on the peninsula drawing China and Russia into the mix, the prospect of another war in Korea filled everyone with dread. Hopefully the upcoming summit will put an end to such fears and continue putting the Korean peninsula on a path towards permanent peace.