Home Contact Us  

East Asia: Japan, Australia and the Koreas - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5072, 4 July 2016

East Asia Compass

Six-Party Talks 2.0: Not for Denuclearisation but for Peace
Sandip Kumar Mishra
Associate Professor, Centre for East Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, & Visiting Fellow, IPCS.

North Korea seems to be adamant to seek further sophistication in its nuclear weaponisation programme, despite international pressure and sanctions to the contrary. Through its fourth nuclear test in January 2016, it wanted to demonstrate to the international community that its nuclear programme was non-negotiable. The UNSC Resolution 2270 and all other previous resolutions and sanctions appear to be ineffective.
On 22-23 June 2016 North Korea’s participation in the Annual Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD) in Beijing, a platform for nuclear envoys from the six countries of the Six-Party Talks, is indicative of North Korea softening its stand. Although the platform is an informal gathering, since the formal Six-Party Talks have not been held after 2008, it is the only mechanism that brings nuclear envoys from these countries to one table. North Korean participation in the dialogue happened after a two-year gap as it did not send its envoys for the dialogues in 2014 and 2015. In the June 2016 dialogue, Choe Son-hui, Deputy Director for North American Affairs at North Korea's Foreign Ministry and the Deputy Chief Envoy for the Six-Party talks participated in the deliberations. 

However, on the very first day of the dialogue, it became clear that none of the parties had any creative plan to move forward. While North Korea refused any compromise on its nuclear programme, the five other countries repeated their commitment to denuclearising North Korea. It was reported that the North Korean envoy very forcefully stated, “The Six-Party talks are dead.” This means that North Korea is quite firm in maintaining that it will not give up its nuclear programme.
The deadlock on the North Korean nuclear issue has been one of the destabilising factors in regional politics. There are, broadly, three positions represented by the six parties involved in the negotiations. First, South Korea, US and Japan stress that North Korea must first give up its nuclear weapons to have any other discussions and exchanges with the outside world. These countries have been, bilaterally and multilaterally, trying to further isolate North Korea and arm-twist it into abandoning its nuclear programme. Second, China and Russia are also in favour of North Korean denuclearisation but they do not support South Korea, US and Japan’s isolationist methods. Third, North Korea itself is stubborn to retain its nuclear programme and further enhance it. According to the subjective perception of North Korea, abandoning its nuclear and missile programmes would mean an end to the North Korean regime. 

It is interesting to note that all the other five countries seek a denuclearised North Korea. The US and China, who otherwise contest each other on several issues in the Asia-Pacific, seem to be in agreement on the final goal of a non-nuclear North Korea. Consequently, if these countries take a more accommodative approach it would be easy to reach a common understanding to achieve this objective. Since, arm-twisting and sanctions have not been very effective in stopping North Korean nuclearisation, South Korea, US and Japan may need to go along with China and Russia. This means that they need to have a common engagement policy towards Pyongyang. It must be underlined that this common engagement policy should be based on transparency and mutual trust. More so because after the third nuclear test by North Korea in early 2013, China was cooperating with the international community in putting pressure on North Korea. However, after the fourth nuclear test, in January 2016, the US and South Korea squarely blamed China for being unable to stop it. As per China’s perspective, they were doing enough to discourage North Korea and the test was not because of China but in spite of China. This blame-game has distanced the five countries on the North Korean nuclear issue and it must be avoided for any future common engagement process to be effective.
In recent years, through several pronouncements and diplomatic moves by North Korea, it is clear that Pyongyang is also willing to interact with the international community. It would be better to have a 2.0 version of the Six-Party Talks among these countries in which broader peace and confidence-building measures would be discussed. The North Korean nuclear issue should not be part of its agenda at least in the first few rounds. It is impractical to follow a ‘nuclear issue first and peace and all other issues later’ approach when it is not moving forward. The sequencing should be reversed as ‘peace and other issues first and nuclear issue later’. Rather than blaming North Korea for being adamant on its position, it would be wise for the other five countries to move beyond their diplomatic stubbornness. This change in stance might lead to the positive outcome that is being sought.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

Related Articles
Kimberley Anne Nazareth,
"NSS in Retrospect: Why not Iran and North Korea?," 9 June 2016
Sandip Kumar Mishra,
"What is the Efficacy of Sanctions on North Korea?," 15 March 2016
Sandip Kumar Mishra,
"‘Brilliant’ Comrade: The Design in North Korean Madness," 1 February 2016
Sandip Kumar Mishra,
"Forecast 2016: East Asia on the Cusp," 22 January 2016
Manpreet Sethi,
"Forecast 2016: Nuclear Issues That Will Dominate the Year," 18 January 2016

Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Denuclearising the Korean Peninsula: US Policy and China's Role

'Comfort Women' and the Japan-South Korea Relationship

Denial and Provocation: Failure of US' North Korea Policy

Trump's Visit to East Asia

Shinzo Abe’s North Korea Strategy

North Korea: Testing the Limits of US-South Korea Relations

The US' Acrobatic Responses to the North Korean Riddle

Japan’s ‘New Approach’ to Russia: Is it Moving Forward?

India and the Koreas: Promises and Follow-ups

South Korea-North Korea: A New Version of Engagement

Trump’s North Korea Policy: Regional Implications

Park Geun-hye's Impeachment and South Korean Foreign Policy

US Tactical Nukes in the Korean Peninsula?

Forecast 2017: East Asia

Japan-China Contestation in 2017

Donald Trump and East Asia

PM Modi’s Visit to Japan: Prospects and Prudence

Future of the TPP and the US' Pivot to Asia

Russia’s Overtures in East Asia

China’s Game on North Korea

Deadlock at Shangri-La: Is There a Way Forward?

North Korea’s 7th Party Congress: Context and Content

Japan’s New Security Laws: Context and Implications

What is the Efficacy of Sanctions on North Korea?

‘Brilliant’ Comrade: The Design in North Korean Madness

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.