August 19, 2013

The Struggle for a Korean Peace Treaty

by Gregory Elich

Sixty years have passed since the end of the Korean War, and in all that time a peace treaty has yet to be signed. The armistice agreement that brought an end to hostilities recommended that a political conference be held within three months "to settle through negotiation the question of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea, the peaceful settlement of the Korean question, etc." That conference never took place.

Decades later, the sides still remain technically at war. Activists in South Korea have made the signing of a peace treaty one of their primary goals, seeing it as the surest means of reducing the risk of armed conflict. A peace treaty would also substantially reduce tensions in Northeast Asia and create an environment conducive to improving inter-Korean relations. By any human evaluation, the time for a peace treaty is long overdue.

The United States not only has the central role to play in the peace treaty process, it also presents the greatest challenge to its achievement. Although a peace treaty would serve the interests of the peoples of Northeast Asia, it has little or no intrinsic value for U.S. leaders. From their standpoint, a peace treaty has value only as a carrot to be dangled before North Korea in order to encourage denuclearization. Indeed, from the standpoint of U.S. geopolitical interests, there are certain advantages in maintaining a state of tension on the Korean Peninsula, . . .


"Korea unification a long-term project,", July 17, 2000

Lucy Williamson, "Why is South Korea plugging unification,", January 24, 2014

Evans Revere, "Korean Reunification and U.S. Interests: Preparing for One Korea,", January 20, 2015

Eric Margolis, "What Would Korean War II Look Like?,", April 15, 2017

Khang Vu, "Trump Is Wrecking South Korea's Relationship With North Korea,", June 18, 2020

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