On the issue of continued U.S. troop presence, apparently Mr. Kim has said he would accept it, with the implication that he might use it to offset Chinese control over the isolated nation. But China certainly would have another view – they have long wanted the U.S. out of Korea.
This issue alone could prove a substantial sticking point, since China has a commanding position over the North’s economy. Will the U.S. simply abide by China’s wishes and depart, leaving Northeast Asia to other powers? It would be a recipe for regional instability.
And then, would we leave North Korea’s million man army in place, allowing it to use sanctions relief to further build up its strength? And would Seoul be happy to see the North remain in its artillery and rockets positions just north of the DMZ, posing a continuing lethal threat to Seoul?
And what about North Korea’s chemical and biologic weapons? Must they not be given up in accordance with international treaties? None of these issues have been mentioned thus far.
Finally, on my list, would be North Korean behavior. State-sanctioned murder? Kidnappings? Cyber attacks? Missile technology and nuclear know-how proliferation?
Failing to address these matters might make any agreement simply an equivalent to the discarded treaty with Iran.
But would the North really give all this up? And how would it be verified.
The problem posed by North Korea is indeed difficult. So, rather than taking the summit cancellation as a setback, the U.S. should take it as an opportunity to establish a robust process that can truly deal with the issues threatening security and stability in Northeast Asia.
Commentary by Retired General Wesley Clark, a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and a Senior Fellow at the UCLA Burkle Center. Follow him on Twitter @
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