Northeast Asia Peace Initiative

IMAP Webinar Follows Up on U.S.–South Korea Summit

United States—On May 25, 2021, The Washington Times Foundation and UPF’s International Media Association for Peace (IMAP) sponsored a webinar on “Observations of the Biden–Moon Summit.” The summit between President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and U.S. President Joe Biden was held on May 21 in Washington, DC.

Mr. Hans Moyer, national coordinator for the North American branch of IMAP, opened the online event and introduced Dr. Michael Jenkins, president of UPF International, who gave an orientation to UPF and its primary associations, which recently have been focusing on the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula. There were 490 Facebook views and 160 Zoom Live views for the webinar.

Mr. Bill Gertz, national security correspondent for the Washington Times, gave a recap of the summit meeting. In a statement issued after the meeting, both leaders acknowledged a shared commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and agreed to address the nuclear and missile programs in North Korea. Mr. Gertz noted that the statement did not emphasize the fact that North Korea’s ballistic missiles are a threat not only to the regional nations but also directly to the United States.

The Biden administration recently did a policy review on North Korea. Basically, according to Mr. Gertz, it said the United States would continue an approach that embraces diplomacy and sanctions. At the press conference, when the president was asked if he would be willing to meet the North Korean leader, Biden said he would be willing “under certain conditions,” namely, that North Korea would be willing to give up its nuclear program. The Biden administration plans to continue a pressure campaign that involves sanctions designed to curb the nuclear and missile programs. Mr. Gertz doesn’t believe the sanctions have been effective; in fact, North Korea is working on miniature warheads, multiple warheads (MIRV), and tactical nuclear missiles.

Mr. Guy Taylor, national security team leader for The Washington Times, recalled Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s meeting with President Biden on April 16, noting that there is a “competition” between Seoul and Tokyo over who is a closer ally with Washington. Mr. Taylor said that it’s really not totally clear what is Biden's policy on North Korea. It isn’t different from the approach of Presidents Bush, Clinton and Obama, which is to continue to put pressure on until the North Koreans are willing to engage in multilateral talks. President Trump changed that strategy when he met with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

Mr. Taylor believes President Moon wanted a green light from Biden to deal directly with Pyongyang and use carrots (economic incentives) to draw the North Korean military into a renewed round of talks. Biden’s approval for North–South bilateral talks did not happen, based on interviews after the summit with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Basically, America’s strategy before and after the meeting with President Moon is unchanged. North Korea has not responded to back channels, and the ball is now in North Korea’s court. He also spoke about other issues including artificial intelligence (AI), GPS programs, China’s theft of Western technology, and how to work with China to deal with North Korea.

Further resources and analysis:

Noting a successful U.S. and Republic of Korea summit,” Joseph R. DeTrani, former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea from 2003–2006. The Washington Times, May 25.

“Deceiving the Sky: Inside Communist China's Drive for Global Supremacy” by Bill Gertz.

UPF and IMAP present regular informative webinars monthly. Previous webinars can be viewed on the Facebook page:

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