Round Table Discussion on Recent Developments in the Korean Peninsula: Reactions to North Korean Nuclear and Missile Activities
Chair and Moderator: Ambassador Ashok K Kantha, Director, Institute of Chinese Studies
Speaker 1 : High Commissioner (Retd.) Vishnu Prakash (25 mins)
The Korean peninsula continues to be a dangerous flashpoint even after some 65 years of armistice between the two Koreas. During this period, the two halves have gone their separate ways. The South has become arguably the greatest economic success story of the 20th century and has evolved into a boisterous democracy. The North has acquired the dubious distinction of becoming the last hermit kingdom on the planet - impoverished, cruel and totalitarian. It would have mattered little to the world except that Pyongyang has developed a sophisticated WMD arsenal defying the world and surprising the strategic community. It keeps threatening to douse Seoul in a ‘sea of fire’, teach Japan a lesson and even sink aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. UN sanctions have been ineffective. Talks and blandishments have been futile. And threats have only steeled North’s resolve to enhance its offensive capability. China remains its sole benefactor while posturing concern and helplessness. Will Trump’s muscle flexing have the desired impact? Will China play ball? Will the South Korean public opinion give up the dream of reunification and support punitive sanctions against the North? And finally, is it at possible to roll back DPRK’s nuclear ambitions? The world is groping for answers.
High Commissioner (Retired) Vishnu Prakash, a Law Graduate (Gold Medalist), joined IFS in 1981. After postings in Moscow, New Delhi, New York and Vladivostok (Consul General) he returned to MEA as Director looking after Nepal and Bhutan (1994 – 1997) when he also did a three-month sabbatical with the ‘Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies’ in Hawaii (USA). His next served in Tokyo, Islamabad, Cairo and Shanghai (Consul General). In August 08, he was appointed Official Spokesperson of MEA, when interalia he was a member of PM’s delegation during all overseas visits. In January 2012, he took over India’s Ambassador to Seoul. In August 2013, he was conferred an Honorary Doctoral Degree in Business Administration by Tongmyong University, Busan. In January 2015, he was bestowed the 'Ambassador of the Year, 2014' award by the Asia Society, Korea Center. Mr. Prakash next assumed the office of Indian High Commissioner in Ottawa in March 2015 from where he retired on 31 October 2016.
Speaker 2 : Dr. Sandip Kumar Mishra (15 mins)
North Korean nuclear and missile crises have taken a dangerous turn in recent days. Whereas, North Korea appears to be adamant on further tests and development, the newly elected US administration has warned for pre-emptive strike on North Korean nuclear and missile installations. The US has been negotiating with China to put more pressure on North Korea but at the same time threatening to go alone, if China does not do so. If both Washington and Pyongyang remain uncompromising, it would indeed be a dangerous proposition. The role of China would also be limited if both the parties are not ready to give up their aggressive postures. In a recent meeting of the UNSC, whereas, the US outlined its tough approach, China and Russia stressed their objections against any military solution. The Trump administration has been trying to connect economic and security issues of the Northeast Asia in a very unprecedented way. The US has expressed security commitments to South Korea and Japan but at the same time is looking for more economic ‘burden’ sharing by these countries. Similarly, Washington has indicated that they are ready to give economic concessions to China but in return Beijing should further increase its pressure on North Korea. The conundrum is posited at a crossroad and in next few months its contours and directions would be clearer.
Dr. Sandip Kumar Mishra is an Associate Professor at the Centre for East Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. He is also an Adjunct Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi. He writes a monthly column named East Asia Compass at the IPCS website. He completed his Master degree in International Politics from Jawaharlal Nehru University and obtained his M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees from the same university working in the field of Korean Studies. He studied Korean Language in South Korea and has been Visiting Fellow and Visiting Scholar at many South Korean research institutes and universities. He also had a unique opportunity to visit North Korea on a research trip in 2013. The areas of his research interests are Inter-Korea Relations, North Korean Nuclear Issue, International Relations of East Asia and Korea, East Asian Security, and India-Korea Relations.
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