[Diplomatic circuit] Experts from Korea, Kazakhstan shed light on denuclearization

By Kim Bo-gyung
  • Published : Sept 30, 2019 - 17:23
  • Updated : Sept 30, 2019 - 17:24

Defense and nuclear experts from South Korea and Kazakhstan shed light on Kazakhstan’s denuclearization process in the 1990s as a reference for North Korea’s denuclearization, experts said.

“North Korea’s denuclearization negotiation seemed to have hit a phase of stagnation, but recently there are signs of hope of reviving the talks,” said Lee Geun, president of the Korea Foundation, in the opening remarks at the second Korea-Kazakhstan Denuclearization Forum in central Seoul last week.

“You may know Kazakhstan is South Korea’s strategic partner across sectors, including politics, economy and culture. We expect the serious ‘denuclearization’ issue to strengthen the relations of the two countries,” Lee added.

Lee Geun (first row, fifth from left), president of the Korea Foundation; and Bakyt Dyussenbayev (first row, seventh from left), Kazakhstan’s ambassador to Korea; pose during a photo session at the second Korea-Kazakhstan Denuclearization Forum in central Seoul on Sept. 26. (Korea Foundation)

The Korea Foundation and the Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan-Elbasy jointly hosted the forum, a follow-up to an earlier forum held in April in Kazakhstan, to exchange in-depth opinions on the role of Kazakhstan in North Korea’s denuclearization and the future of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

Last week’s forum was attended by some 20 Korean and Kazakhstani defense and nuclear experts, including Lee and Kazakhstan’s ambassador to South Korea, Bakyt Dyussenbayev.

As the first step to entice North Korea to disarm, experts suggested opening various platforms for dialogue, such as international conferences, and inviting North Korean officials to attend.

Some experts also favored the view that North Korea is likely to steadily eliminate its nuclear weapons if offered a chance to denuclearize step by step in exchange for economic support.

After its separation from the former Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan had the fourth-largest volume of nuclear weapons worldwide with some 1,140 nuclear warheads, some 100 intercontinental ballistic missiles and 40 strategic bombers.

Under former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who emphasized economic development over nuclear proliferation, Kazakhstan joined the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, ultimately achieving complete disarmament as of 2015.

In a meeting with President Moon Jae-in in April, Nazarbayev said Kazakhstan had gained international trust after denuclearization. Nazarbayev had also urged the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to choose the economy over nuclear weapons for the sake of his people.

“We hope for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, utilizing Kazakhstan’s experience in bringing about economic development by voluntarily deciding to denuclearize,” a Korea Foundation official said. 

By Kim Bo-gyung (