The first steps toward a lasting peace have been taken by the leaders of South and North Korea, but according to one Canadian expert, the form that peace will take is still very much in flux.
Paul Evans, who teaches Asian and trans-Pacific affairs at the University of British Columbia, said after a historic summit, North Korea and its neighbours have officially entered “a time of talking.”
“It’s a high risk, high profile, high drama rollercoaster ride that has entered a whole new phase in the last year, but particularly in the last month,” Evans told The West Block‘s Eric Sorensen this weekend.
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As tensions have eased, new questions are emerging about the next steps, he added. While it appears North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has firm control over his country’s military commanders and is willing to talk about denuclearization, the reality of North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons may be quite different.
“When we get into the short strokes of negotiation on verification, on what kinds of confidence-building measures will be put in place, there’s going to be enormous complication,” Evans explained.
“It’s like a mirage … that everyone sees at this moment. They see it slightly differently, but they’re going to try to walk in that direction as far as possible.”
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Canada’s future role is also very uncertain, Evans added. Ottawa recently dispatched one military aircraft as part of a monitoring mission linked to smuggling in North Korea, but as the country is reintegrated into the international order, Canada may also want to leverage humanitarian and education connections with Pyongyang.
“If our government is interested … there’s a possibility we can prepare for that role now, recognizing the moment is not quite right yet, but may be just over the horizon,” Evans said.
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If anyone has earned a Nobel Peace Prize over the last several months, he said, it’s South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who has succeeded in calming tensions “against enormous odds” both domestically and internationally. The United States has played a role as well, Evans acknowledged, mainly by ramping up sanctions.
“(But) I would say that it’s going to ultimately be South Korea and North Korea that make this thing work, or take it back to where we’ve been — into that period of crisis again.”
— Watch the full interview with UBC’s Paul Evans above