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    How Moscow Could Save the Day if Kim-Trump Summit Collapses

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    The US-North Korea talks are hanging in the balance following Pyongyang's threats to cancel the June 12 meeting over National Security Adviser John Bolton’s Libya model remarks. Analysts have explained to Sputnik how Russia could save the deal and turn it into a multilateral agreement.

    Donald Trump's advisers are deliberately torpedoing the June 12 US-North Korea summit, analysts told Sputnik, suggesting that Russia could take advantage of the situation.

    "If the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) abandons its nuclear weapons, a number of US projects in the Pacific region will lose their significance," Dmitry Abzalov, president of the Center for Strategic Communications opined. "First, the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system in Japan and South Korea [will become useless]. These defense systems cost billions of dollars and their acquisition is being justified by the threat from Pyongyang. What is at stake is the financial benefit of American businessmen, the Republican Party's sponsors."

    According to the scholar, there is a confrontation between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who is backing the idea of the US-DPRK negotiations and North Korea hawk John Bolton, the national security advisor to Donald Trump.

    "It's up to the American leader to decide which side to take and whose interests to take into account — either long-term strategic ones or those dictated by the demands of the US defense lobby," Abzalov suggested.

    On May 16, First Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of DPRK Kim Kye Gwan issued a statement saying that Pyongyang may reconsider its upcoming meeting with President Trump over provocative statements by US high-ranking officials, most notably John Bolton, who proposed the scheme of "abandoning nuclear weapons first, compensating afterwards" in the talks with North Korea. Furthermore, the national security adviser referred to the Libyan mode of nuclear abandonment as an example for a roadmap to denuclearize Pyongyang.

    Apparently, the reference to Libya was the last straw for the DPRK's leadership:  "The world knows too well that our country is neither Libya nor Iraq which have met a miserable fate," the statement said.

    Commenting on the issue Alexander Vorontsov, the head of the Department for Korean and Mongolian Studies and the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russia Academy of Sciences (RAS) noted that Washington wants North Korea to disarm first and then to consider what to offer in exchange.

    "North Korea wants security guarantees and believes that the abandonment its nuclear program costs a lot," the academic highlighted. "A mere disarmament doesn't work for Pyongyang. Kim Jong-un and his entourage remember the fate of [Muammar] Gaddafi, who gave up [Libya's] nuclear program. No one in North Korea wants to repeat his fate."

    According to Vorontsov, Pyongyang still regards the US as a substantial security threat. Referring to the joint US-South Korean military drills which kicked off on May 14, the academic underscored that over 300,000 servicemen are involved in the maneuvers.

    He noted that somehow Western mainstream media doesn't regard these drills as a threat to the region's stability and the ongoing diplomatic efforts to ease tensions on the peninsula. In contrast, Western MSM raised the alarm for Russia's combat exercises in Belarus which brought together ten times less military men.

    How Russia Could Enter the De-nuclearization Process

    Abzalov assumed that if skepticism in regard to Washington's intentions prevails in Pyongyang, the US role in the further talks on the peninsula's denuclearization would significantly decrease.

    Under these circumstances, Russia could act as an intermediary along with South Korea, Japan and China, while the US-North Korea talks would be translated into multilateral negotiations.

    It would be a perfect situation for Russia if North Korea negotiates its de-nuclearization not just with Washington, but with Beijing, Seoul and Moscow instead, the scholar believes. Otherwise, he continued, the talks between Washington and Pyongyang risks ending up as a behind-the-scenes bilateral deal. In case of Trump's political failure Russia could step in and change the existing status quo, the academic presumed.

    Following North Korea's outburst, China's Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that Beijing hopes that Washington and Pyongyang will "continue to build mutual trust, and make joint efforts to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and lasting peace and stability in the region."

    In addition, China praised the recent denuclearization efforts made the DPRK calling upon the international community to show empathy to Pyongyang.

    Earlier, the 38 North monitoring group reported that the May 7 satellite imagery confirms that North Korea is dismantling its nuclear test site.

    Meanwhile, the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping could also travel to Singapore and join the historic meeting, adding at the same time that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang declined to comment on the rumored trip.

    The views of the contributors do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    denuclearization, negotiations, nuclear weapons, talks, Muammar Gaddafi, Xi Jinping, Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), China, Iraq, United States, Russia, Libya, South Korea
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