Reasonable demands should be responded to
Major differences remain between DPRK, US over denuclearization
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid his third visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on Sunday.
He held talks with DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un. The two sides agreed that their countries would hold a second summit as quickly as possible. Kim also invited international inspectors to visit the Punggye Ri nuclear test site to confirm that it had been irreversibly dismantled.
Despite the current mood of detente in DPRK-US relations, the two sides still need to overcome major differences prior to reaching a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Under a joint statement signed by Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, the United States committed to providing a security guarantee to the DPRK in return for Pyongyang’s commitment to denuclearization.
However, their talks have been stuck in an impasse due to differences over the scale of denuclearization, strict US sanctions, and whether to issue a war-ending declaration.
At the 73rd UN General Assembly, DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho demanded the US take steps to secure Pyongyang’s trust before it denuclearizes.
“Without any trust in the US, there will be no confidence in our national security, and under such circumstances there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first,” Ri said.
Even before the Singapore summit, the DPRK ceased all nuclear and ballistic missile tests and dismantled the Punggye Ri nuclear test site as a gesture of goodwill.
Washington and Pyongyang have sparred over the exact terms of the vaguely-worded deal in Singapore. The US insists on maintaining sanctions and pressure against the DPRK until its “final, fully verified denuclearization”.
During the first stop of his Asia tour, Pompeo met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two allied countries reaffirmed that sanctions should be implemented until the DPRK denuclearizes.
Furthermore, the DPRK said a declaration ending the 1950-53 Korean War should not be used as a bargaining chip in denuclearization talks.
Besides holding firm on its own sanctions against the DPRK, the US is also meddling in the improving ties between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea.
On Wednesday, Trump told reporters at the White House that Seoul will not lift sanctions on Pyongyang without US approval, after ROK Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha suggested that Seoul was considering easing its own sanctions against the DPRK to encourage its denuclearization.
In Seoul, the foreign minister confirmed reports that Pompeo expressed displeasure over an agreement reached between the ROK and the DPRK last month to reduce conventional military threats between them.
Even though the world has witnessed positive development concerning the Korean Peninsular nuclear issue over the last few months, including increased visits and dialogue, mutual trust and sincerity are still lacking in the interactions on the ground.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that the peninsula issue is one of security in essence, and the DPRK’s reasonable demands for safety and development should be responded to positively.