03:23 GMT +315 December 2019
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    US missile defense system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, is seen at a golf course in Seongju, South Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017

    China May Demand That US Remove THAAD From S Korea – Analyst

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    The implementation of the US-North Korea June 12 accords might require China's participation, analysts told Sputnik, suggesting that Beijing could demand that the Pentagon remove its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems deployed on the Korean Peninsula.

    On June 12 North Korea clearly signaled its determination to carry out the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, therefore, at this stage, the proposal to mitigate sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is quite reasonable, Lu Chao, head of the Center for North Korean and Republic of Korea Studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told Sputnik China.

    "Previously, the international community imposed sanctions on the DPRK because of its nuclear tests," Lu said. "However, North Korea has already responded positively to the idea of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In this case, the UN Security Council should also reconsider sanctions against the DPRK, up to the introduction of appropriate adjustments. Of course, the UN Security Council should take a decision on a relevant discussion [on the issue]. We can say that the DPRK's efforts to conduct the denuclearization are obvious. In particular, we are talking about the dismantling of [Pyongyang's] nuclear test site in May this year."

    On May 25 Pyongyang destroyed the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site — the only known nuclear test site in the country, ahead of the June 12 Singapore Summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The demolition of the nuclear test site came as a signal of the DPRK's goodwill and readiness to go ahead with the denuclearization process.

    Speaking at the UN Security Council on May 13, Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia raised the anti-DPRK sanctions issue, suggesting that the Security Council should consider steps to lift restrictions against Pyongyang.

    "I think that it is only natural that we should be thinking about steps in that direction," Nebenzia told reporters. "There is progress on the track that should be reciprocal. There should be a two-way street. Of course the other side should see encouragement to go forward."

    The Russian diplomat specified that earlier, Moscow and Beijing had proposed a phased plan of denuclearization of the peninsula. One of the steps envisaged the suspension of US-South Korean military drills in exchange for Pyongyang's gradual abandonment of its nuclear program.

    On June 13 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises had been suspended, adding that the drills would be resumed in case Pyongyang stops negotiations over the nuclear program.

    The next day, however, Pompeo clarified that the sanctions against Pyongyang would not be lifted until the "complete, verifiable and irreversible" denuclearization of North Korea.

    "We believe that Kim Jong Un understands the urgency… that we must do this quickly," Pompeo said.

    U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un look at each others before signing documents that acknowledge the progress of the talks and pledge to keep momentum going, after their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018
    © REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst
    U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un look at each others before signing documents that acknowledge the progress of the talks and pledge to keep momentum going, after their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018

    US Can't Implement Kim-Trump Accords Without China

    Speaking to Sputnik, Russian political analyst Alexander Lomanov emphasized Beijing's role in the US-North Korean talks. It is likely that the US secretary of state's upcoming visit to China will be devoted to both the outcomes of the Singapore Summit and the subsequent implementation of the Washington-Pyongyang agreement.

    However, the discussion of this sensitive issue is overshadowed by the White House's pledge to impose "a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion of goods imported from China containing industrially significant technology, including those related to the 'Made in China 2025' program" on June 15 and 30, respectively.

    "The US intention to impose political pressure and harm the Chinese economy at the same time enlisting China's support in solving the North Korean problem is a very bold and daring plan," Lomanov opined. "It may not strike a chord with Beijing, because [the Chinese] still believe that usually partners do not engage in the destruction of economic ties."

    According to the analyst, the Singapore Summit looked like an attempt to "make friends and talk," rather than making some serious arrangements.

    The main problem remains: the US is demanding that the DPRK take real steps in exchange for verbal promises, Lomanov pointed out. The analyst underscored that Washington had repeatedly demonstrated that its words do not always translate into actions. Thus, the absolute asymmetry of these agreements will be evident soon, he believes. He added that one should not delude oneself into believing that the DPRK will disarm under Washington's verbal guarantees.

    However, according to Lomanov, China could ensure North Korea's disarmament. Still, Beijing would not do it for nothing: The analyst presumed that the Chinese leadership may demand that the US redeploy its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems outside South Korea and reduce the US military contingent on the peninsula.

    In any event, given China's historic ties with North Korea Washington needs Beijing's assistance in implementing the Trump-Kim accords, Lomanov emphasized.

    The US installed the THAAD complex in South Korea in 2017 under the pretext of tacking North Korea's missile threat. The move was criticized by both China and Russia, which cited serious security concerns and warned Washington against escalating tensions in the region.

    The views and opinions expressed by Lu Chao and Alexander Lomanov are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    denuclearization, military drills, Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Singapore Summit, NATO, Pentagon, Xi Jinping, Donald Trump, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), China, United States, Russia, South Korea
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