SEOUL, March 20 (Yonhap) -- There's no way North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons because they have no reason to believe the United States will implement any denuclearization deal between them, John Mearsheimer, a professor at the University of Chicago well known for his realist views on international politics, said Tuesday.
"North Korea is not going to give up its nuclear weapons and China will not push North Koreans to do so. The reason is that in international politics, you could never trust anybody because you cannot be certain of what their intentions are," the professor said in a lecture hosted by the Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies in Seoul.
"There's no way North Koreans can trust the U.S. -- they give up their nuclear weapons because the U.S. might welsh on the deal," the professor said, referring to the U.S.' unsuccessful denuclearization deals with former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Iran. "If you were North Koreans, would you trust Donald Trump? Would you trust any American presidents?
"I can't think of a country that needs nuclear weapons more than North Koreans because you all know that the U.S. is into a regime change. Donald Trump has been talking about a regime change in North Korea," Mearsheimer said.
"Give up their nuclear weapons? I don't think so, especially as security competition heats up in East Asia. You wanna hang on to those weapons."
His analysis comes as the leaders of South Korea and the U.S. gear up for their respective summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in April and May to discuss the latter's denuclearization and the building of a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula after the North's barrage of weapons tests escalated tension in the region.
The professor also said there is "virtually" no chance that the two Koreas will be unified in the foreseeable future.
"I think it's quite clear up until now the Chinese had a deep-seated interest in making sure that North Korea remains a sovereign state, a buffer state separating China from South Korea and their American ally.
"I think as the security competition between China and the U.S. increases, the incentive for China to make sure North Korea remains a sovereign, buffer state increases," he said.
Mearsheimer said the Korean Peninsula will likely become the single frontline for the two powers' growing security competition to become the regional hegemon and a war could possibly happen on the peninsula as part of the competition.
"You are going to get intense security competition here in East Asia. I believe it's inevitable. I think there is a serious possibility of a war," he said. "I don't say it's likely. I just think there is a serious possibility."
The shifting geopolitics may cause North Korea to bond closely with China again although "these days a lot of people think China is fed up with North Koreans and there's been something of a distancing between them."
Mearsheimer noted, "I think that is probably true today, but my argument is that as security competition heats up in East Asia, they will come closer together."
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