Strasbourg, 18 April 2018 – A unique opportunity exists to take the first steps towards a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
President Trump’s decision to accept Kim’s invitation to talks, without preconditions, is an unprecedented act of diplomacy. These talks are a stepping stone to further dialogue and is the beginning of a process, not its end.
We are at a point when a 64 year old armistice will finally be made into a peace treaty. The North Koreans want this and now so do the South.
Having returned from Asia, I come to this chamber with the perception that the North Koreans are, at last, willing to discuss denuclearisation, starting with a freeze
I also know that nuclear weapons are existential to the North Koreans. They do not consider nuclear weapons simply as a deterrent, they also underpin the very identity of the DPRK and reinforce the authority of Kim Jong Un, legitimising the sacrifices of the population and strengthening internal cohesion.
The simple fact that they are willing to discuss denuclearisation is a huge advance in the cause of peace. A peace that can disappear like a puff of smoke if we ask for too much too soon.
There is legitimate view that a step by step dismantling of the nuclear programme may simply be a stalling tactic to remove crippling sanctions and that the regime has no intention of removing the nuclear weapons.
The answer to this surely must be open and authenticated verifiability. Can this be done?
If the North is truly sincere they must agree to a verification system that is acceptable to the International Community.
Not only will this confirm a freeze, but a later, step by step dismantling of the weapons, according to a staged process whereby North Korea becomes more and more engaged in global institutions and has access to global development capital.