North Korea in­tends to abol­ish all nu­clear weapons, South says

Tehran Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in­tends to abol­ish all nu­clear weapons, ma­te­ri­als and fa­cil­i­ties to achieve “com­plete” de­nu­cle­ariza­tion, South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in, who held his third sum­mit with Kim last month, said on Fri­day.

Kim and U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pledged to work to­wards de­nu­cle­ariza­tion at their land­mark June sum­mit in Sin­ga­pore, but the agree­ment was short on specifics. Ne­go­ti­a­tions have made lit­tle head­way since, with the North re­fus­ing to de­clare its nu­clear weapons and fa­cil­i­ties or agree to a con­crete time­line.

Moon em­pha­sized Kim’s re­solve to aban­don nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grams, that the North pur­sued in de­fi­ance of U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions, and fo­cus on the econ­omy if regime se­cu­rity is guar­an­teed.

“By com­plete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion, he meant to start by stop­ping ad­di­tional nu­clear and mis­sile tests, and then abol­ish the fa­cil­i­ties that pro­duce the nukes and de­velop the mis­siles, and all the ex­ist­ing nu­clear weapons and ma­te­ri­als,” Moon said, ac­cord­ing to a script of his in­ter­view with BBC shared by his of­fice.

Af­ter his third sum­mit in Py­ongyang, Moon said the North was ready to in­vite in­ter­na­tional ex­perts to watch the dis­man­tling of a key mis­sile site and would close the main Yong­byon nu­clear com­plex if Wash­ing­ton took re­cip­ro­cal ac­tions.

The ac­tions could in­clude putting a for­mal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, open­ing of a U.S. li­ai­son of­fice in North Korea, hu­man­i­tar­ian aid and an ex­change of eco­nomic ex­perts, Moon said.

Reclu­sive North Korea and the rich, demo­cratic South are tech­ni­cally still at war be­cause the con­flict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

And when the North makes sub­stan­tial progress in de­nu­cle­ariza­tion, a grad­ual eas­ing of eco­nomic sanc­tions Py­ongyang should be “se­ri­ously con­sid­ered,” Moon said.

The United States has in­sisted on ir­re­versible steps to­wards de­nu­cle­ariza­tion first.

“Mat­ter of time”

“End­ing the war is a sort of a po­lit­i­cal dec­la­ra­tion to ter­mi­nate the long­stand­ing hos­tile re­la­tion­ship be­tween the United States and North Korea, and it would kick off peace ne­go­ti­a­tions de­pend­ing on the de­nu­cle­ariza­tion process,” Moon said.

“There is con­sen­sus be­tween South Korea and the United States that it is de­sir­able to make the end-of-war dec­la­ra­tion at an ear­li­est pos­si­ble date, so I think it’s a mat­ter of time but it will def­i­nitely hap­pen.”

His com­ments come amid U.S. con­cerns that in­ter-Korean re­la­tions may be warm­ing too fast rel­a­tive to ne­go­ti­a­tions to dis­man­tle North Korea’s weapons pro­grams.

U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo has ex­pressed “dis­con­tent” with an in­ter-Korean mil­i­tary pact reached dur­ing last month’s sum­mit in a rare sign of dis­agree­ment be­tween the al­lies.

The two Koreas agreed in that ac­cord to halt mil­i­tary drills, set up a no-fly zone near the bor­der and grad­u­ally re­move land­mines and guard posts within the Demil­i­tarised Zone, among other steps.

Moon also said Py­ongyang and Wash­ing­ton were in work­ing-level dis­cus­sions to ar­range a sec­ond sum­mit as soon as the U.S. midterm elec­tions are over.

Trump said on Tues­day his sec­ond sum­mit with Kim would be held af­ter the elec­tions slated for Nov. 6. It re­mains un­clear what steps the United States plans to take to­wards de­nu­cle­ariza­tion “of the Korean penin­sula”, a ref­er­ence North Korea has used in the past to in­clude the U.S. nu­clear um­brella in the re­gion.

Seoul’s Uni­fi­ca­tion Min­istry said on Fri­day the two Koreas would hold high-level talks on Mon­day at the bor­der vil­lage of Pan­munjom.

At last month’s meet­ing, Moon and Kim agreed to re­sume eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing re­link­ing rail­ways and roads and re­open­ing a joint fac­tory park and tours to the North’s Mount Kum­gang re­sort, when con­di­tions are met.

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