Speaking at the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday (local time), President Moon Jae-in proposed that three parties of the two Koreas and the U.S., or four parties of the two Koreas, the U.S. and China come together and declare that the War on the Korean Peninsula is over. With eight months left in his term, President Moon revived his call for end of war declaration as the first step, which would lead to progress toward denuclearization from North Korea. In his last speech at the U.N. General Assembly as the South Korean President, President Moon did not mention North Korea’s provocations, including the recent launch of ballistic missiles.
“When the parties involved in the Korean War stand together and proclaim an end to the War, I believe we can make irreversible progress in denuclearization and usher in an era of complete peace,” President Moon said during his speech? “An end-of-war declaration will mark a pivotal point of departure in creating a new order of ‘reconciliation and cooperation’ on the Korean Peninsula.” He once again urged the international community to mobilize its strengths for the end-of-war declaration on the Korean Peninsula. After the two Koreas agreed to declare end of war in the Panmunjom Declaration in 2018, the South Korean government has emphasized that the U.S. would offer end-of-war declaration as compensation to North Korea in case it dismantles its nuclear facilities in Yongbyon. The U.S., however, appears to be reluctant, fearing that an end-of-war declaration would lead to calls for withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea. North Korea has not mentioned declaration of end of war on the Korean Peninsula after the collapse of the Hanoi summit in 2019.
Against this backdrop, repeating a call for declaration to end the Korean War as a first step to bring progress toward denuclearization is seemingly an attempt to make end-of-war declaration his legacy before his term ends in May 2022. The fact that China has been included in the concerned parties along with the two Koreas and the U.S. seems to be a move to use the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing as an opportunity to push for declaration to end the Korean War in Feb. next year. However, experts point out that the possibility of declaring an end to the Korean War is low when North Korea has been operating its nuclear facilities in Yongbyon since early July and is raising the level of provocations, including launching ballistic missiles from a train for the first time. North Korea even demanded that U.S. troops withdraw from South Korea in early August.
Rafael Grossi, the director general of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said during the agency’s annual meeting on Monday (local time) that nuclear program is going “full steam ahead” with work on plutonium separation, uranium enrichment and other activities in North Korea, adding it is in clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
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