Risk Reduction & Confidence Building on the Korean Peninsula: Challenges, Opportunities & Implications for Regional Stability

January 19, 2011

Seoul, Republic of Korea

Organized by IFPA, the Institute for Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS), and the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP)

Supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency

Session 1

The Post-Cheonan and Post-Yeonpyeong Security Environment

Moderator: Dr. Charles Perry, IFPA
Lead US Discussant: Mr. Ralph Cossa, PacificForum CSIS
Lead China Discussant: Dr. Shen Dingli, Fudan University
Lead ROK Discussant: Dr. Shin Beom Chul, KIDA

The sinking of ROK navy corvette Cheonan in March 2010 triggered new tensions on the Korean Peninsula and led to a ripple effect that has impacted regional security concerns ever since. Uncertainties surrounding the anticipated change of leadership in Pyongyang and recent revelations about North Korea's enrichment program, together with North's shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, have ratcheted up tensions still further. While an outbreak of armed conflict
Challenges, Opportunities, and Implications for Regional Stability 3
has been avoided, the Cheonan incident and subsequent acts of violence have polarized the region and changed the dynamics of a series of bilateral, trilateral, and even multilateral (e.g., five- and six-party) relations. This session focused on post-Cheonan and post-Yeonpyeong security dynamics, such as:

  • How has the peninsular and regional security environment changed almost one year after the Cheonan incident? Are there new perceived threats to regional stability and have calculations of deterrence been altered since the incident? To what extent is this reflected in the November 2010 tensions? Is there a need for improved crisis management capabilities?
  • What is the impact, if any, of the North Korean succession process on regional security calculations? On the prospects for effective dialogue and threat reduction efforts? What might be done to make the most of the changes?
  • How have critical bilateral relations among the key players (i.e., US-PRC, ROK-DPRK, ROK-PRC, Japan-PRC, etc.) changed, and how are these ties likely to evolve over the long-term? What is their likely impact on broader regional relations?
  • What lessons can we learn from the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong incidents, and how can we move beyond them in order to avoid similar crises and take advantages of opportunities to reduce tensions? Is the prospect of new North Korean leadership an opportunity or only another complication?

Session 2

Toward a Revamped Crisis Management and Risk Reduction Framework

Moderator: Dr. Jacquelyn Davis, IFPA
Lead China Discussant: Dr. Teng Jianqun, CIIS
Lead US Discussant: RADM Michael McDevitt, USN (Ret.), CNA
Lead ROK Discussant: Dr. Cheon Seongwhun, KINU

The Cheonan and Yeonpyeong incidents and their aftermath highlight some of the flaws and weaknesses in the existing framework for limiting and containing conflict on the Korean Peninsula. Among other initiatives, the 1953 Armistice, the 1992 Basic Agreement, and the 1992 Joint Declaration on Denuclearization should be updated and/or reinforced in order to address more fully and effectively the current and emerging security environment. This session addressed such questions as:

  • What adjustments could be made to bolster near-term risk management and address ongoing concerns about proliferation threats (and their interconnections) on the Peninsula?
  • How can existing non- and counter-proliferation mechanisms be applied more effectively to North Korean challenges, thereby promoting and supporting regional stability?
  • How can additional Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) support the Armistice and reduce future risks and tensions in the region?
  • What can the relevant parties do to support implementation of the inter-Korean Basic Agreement and Joint Declaration?
  • What is the proper division of labor between various bilateral measures and multilateral measures to reduce tensions and support stability on and around the Peninsula?
  • How can a revamped Armistice build toward long-term stability and set conditions for an eventual peace regime on the Peninsula?

Lunch

Keynote Address

Speaker: The Honorable Hwang Jin Ha (Ret. Lieutenant General, ROK Army) member, National Assembly; Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Unification Committee

Session 3

Envisioning a New Peninsular and Regional Security Structure

Moderator: RADM Eric McVadon, USN (Ret.), IFPA
Lead Korea Discussant: Prof. Kim Young-ho, KNDU
Lead China Discussant: Prof. Zhu Feng, CISS, Peking University
Lead US Discussant: Amb. Jack Pritchard, KEI

Although North Korea has not rejoined the six-party talks, the remaining five parties can lay the groundwork for enhanced cooperation to improve stability, reduce threats, and pave the way toward a new regional security structure and a potential peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. This session addressed the following key questions:

  • How can the five parties work together beyond the six-party-talks structure to stabilize the Korean Peninsula and reduce tensions over the long-term? What additional parties (e.g., Australia, the ARF, etc.) and global institutions (i.e., the UN and its affiliated agencies) should be involved in the process?
  • What additional risk reduction measures can the five parties and global institutions undertake to address North Korea's WMD-related programs and the risks they pose?
  • What would an ideal regional security structure look like without the baggage of legacy issues (i.e., past conflicts and disputes over history, territory, etc.)? What would be the priorities of that new framework, and how would regional players cooperate to achieve those objectives?
  • Can a new regional security structure evolve into a peace regime over time? Is there already a peace regime strategy in place among the key players? If so, what are the goals and objectives?
  • How can the key players work together to realize a peace regime, and how can they cooperate to make it effective and sustainable? What can be done to implement elements of a peace regime now?
  • How can we work over the short term and long term to bring about positive change in North Korea and with respect to North Korea's regional role?

Session 4

Workshop Discussion Wrap-up and Possible Next Steps

Moderator: Mr. Weston Konishi, IFPA
Lead US Discussant: Mr. Scott Snyder, Asia Foundation
Lead China Discussant: Prof. Zhuang Jianzhong, CNSS, Jiaotong University
Lead Korea Discussant: Prof. Choi Kang, IFANS

Based on the previous sessions, what are specific "take away" points that could be followed up by participants from each nation? How can we best coordinate bilateral, trilateral, and broader multilateral efforts to promote the ideas covered in today's workshop? Do the security dialogues and risk reduction efforts of other regions in transition – such as post-Cold War Europe – hold useful lessons for setting in place a new peace and security regime in Northeast Asia? What specifically should future Track 1.5 dialogues focus on to support key objectives identified during the workshop discussions?

Closing Dinner

Hosted by the Honorable Hyun In-taek, Minister of Unification, Republic of Korea