Sputnik discussed this with Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters, Research Fellow at Australian National University and Managing Editor of the European Journal of Korean Studies.
Sputnik: How likely is the meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un to go ahead do you think?
Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters: I think since this meeting seems to have come directly from a decision by Donald Trump it would be fairly good to say it will likely to go ahead. I think that one of the things that could have derailed it was the coming joint Korean-US military exercises, but I know that the statement from the South Koreans, Chung Eui-yong who arranged this, included the fact that North Korea understood that these exercises would go ahead and they wouldn't be a barrier to the meeting happening, so I can't see why if left to Donald Trump alone it wouldn't go ahead.
Sputnik: It seems on the face of it that Kim Jong-un has become very passive regarding any flagrant abuse of his waters, it seems again very-very encouraging that he seems to be very calm and he's calming his stance that's good news, if it does happen this will be the first meeting between a North Korean leader and a US President, how historically significant it this, what's your comment with regard to that?
Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters: I think this could be an extraordinarily significant meeting, I think it's one of the key goals of North Korean foreign policy over many decades is to get the leadership of North Korea into a room one-on-one with the United States President and this is one of the key things North Korea has focused all of its nuclear development and military development in the past few years on, it will be an extraordinary event for North Korea for this to happen.
Sputnik: Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un have exchanged heated rhetoric and even personal insults in the past how will this affect the atmosphere at their meeting, it's been very vociferous and poisonous in terms of these comments in the last 12 months, what's your take on that?
Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters: Donald Trump is no stranger to fractious meetings or fractious relationships, being in Australia my most recent memory of the very difficult conversation Donald Trump had with Malcolm Turnbull the Prime Minister of Australia after he came to power and despite this difficult conversation Trump and Turnbull were still capable of having a resonable conversation in public and I'm sure it will be the same when he meets Kim Jong-un or if he meets Kim Jong-un.
Sputnik: What steps does North Korea need to take in order to have sanctions against it lifted do you believe? How likely is it to denuclearize completely? How much time could this take?
Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters: It depends on which sanctions you mean. In a sense, I think all sanctions essentially a political decision, there are various sanction on North Korea it's sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council and there's also a series of unilateral sanctions brought on by the United States and put into law by the United States and I think getting the United Nations Security Council sanctions lifted would be an easier task than the recent passing of sanctions in law in the United States legal framework which require an extraordinary level of undertaking by North Korea even to get them lifted for one year, North Korea has to cease its sense of all peaceful political activity in order to have the sanctions lifted under US law which is quite a big task for North Korea.
Sputnik: What impact did the sanctions have on North Korea's economy, we've had news in the last month that there've been instances where ships and boats shipping have been able to get in and around the sanctions and taking cargo into North Korea against the sanctions, products and goods, we know this has been happening on a regular basis from what we're told from the US, but what impact have the sanctions had, do you believe they've been successful?
Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters: It's quite difficult to give exact specifics on North Korean economic output partly because the statistics are so difficult to handle, it's always challenged, it's always struggling in a sense against the sanctions regimes. However, North Korea is also really good at evading and taking alternative means to extract funds and to ship its goods abroad. We know transshipment at sea and that sort of thing, things that would be like Air Koryo, the national airline, normally a source of funding, has now had to open up a network of petrol stations across Pyongyang to generate funds to support the airline because it's so difficult for them to fly anywhere. There are also stories of petrol shortages and other shortages in Pyongyang and of course other shortages around North Korea, but whether it's the impact of sanctions it's hard to tell.
Sputnik: I think you used the word staggering when you were describing the news these two leaders were going to probably sit down and have a proposed meeting with regard to the nuclear situation in North Korea, if this was to be successful and the meeting carried enough weight for North Korea to denuclearize this would be more than staggering it would be phenomenal really, and when we think about President Trump's terms so far it has been very divisive in terms of globally and his diplomacy, I think your British, we call it marmite, you either love him or hate him what's your particular take if this is to be successful, I think a lot of commentators and critics will be standing up and thinking this is a very significant result really, isn't it?
Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters: I got this news at 5:30 in the morning when I woke up and I actually exclaimed in bed when I woke up when reading the news, it's extraordinary. I think we have to define the terms of what is success, what is exactly we would be aiming for in a meeting like this and you have to think about what you mean by denuclearize, I noticed that the use of the word denuclearize from the North Koreans suggests they expect America to denuclearize the entire peninsula as well which means essentially to withdraw all American troops from South Korea.
The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.