NK, US pre­pared for ‘re­sults’ in nuke talks: FM

2 sides ex­pected be more flex­i­ble at work­ing-level talks

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Lee Min-hyung mh­[email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

The United States and North Korea are pre­pared to “gen­er­ate re­sults” in their up­com­ing work­ing-level nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment talks with both sides pur­su­ing a more flex­i­ble ap­proach in a pos­si­ble lead-up to an­other sum­mit be­tween the two coun­tries’ lead­ers, For­eign Min­is­ter Kang Kyung-wha said Wed­nes­day.

“We can­not jump to con­clu­sions, but as far as I know, both sides are fully pre­pared to achieve re­sults in the up­com­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions,” Kang told law­mak­ers dur­ing a Na­tional As­sem­bly an­nual au­dit of her min­istry.

North Korea con­firmed Tues­day evening that work­ing-level de­nu­cle­ariza­tion dis­cus­sions with the U.S. would re­sume Oct. 5 at an “undis­closed lo­ca­tion.” The restart comes after a months-long hia­tus after the failed sum­mit in Hanoi be­tween Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Fe­bru­ary.

The for­eign min­is­ter re­mained op­ti­mistic for po­ten­tial suc­cess in the up­com­ing di­a­logue.

“My view is that the two sides will re­turn to the talks with a more flex­i­ble stance,” Kang said. “Once the work­ing-level talks gen­er­ate a tan­gi­ble out­come, dis­cus­sions for a po­ten­tial sum­mit be­tween Trump and Kim will take place.”

One of the key is­sues to be dis­cussed dur­ing the talks will be how Wash­ing­ton can guar­an­tee the se­cu­rity of the Kim regime in re­turn for the North’s de­nu­cle­ariza­tion. Last month, a North Korean diplo­mat said Py­ongyang would dis­cuss de­nu­cle­ariza­tion with Wash­ing­ton only after “all po­ten­tial ob­sta­cles and threats,” in the way of guar­an­tee­ing the se­cu­rity of the North, were “un­doubt­edly elim­i­nated.”

Kang did not com­ment on how Wash­ing­ton would ac­com­plish this.

The last work­ing-level talks be­tween the U.S. and the North took place in Swe­den in Jan­uary where North Korea‘s First Vice For­eign Min­is­ter Choe Son-hui en­gaged in three days of di­a­logue with her U.S. coun­ter­part Stephen Biegun.

In the an­nual au­dit, Kang has been bom­barded with ques­tions from law­mak­ers re­gard­ing pend­ing se­cu­rity mat­ters on the penin­sula, in­clud­ing the on­go­ing de­fense cost-shar­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Seoul and Wash­ing­ton.

The 11th round of dis­cus­sions on cost-shar­ing for the up­keep of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), known as the Spe­cial Mea­sures Agree­ment (SMA), be­gan last month.

Wash­ing­ton is press­ing Seoul to pay more amid Trump’s “Amer­ica First” pol­icy slo­gan, and re­port­edly asked the gov­ern­ment to pay $5 bil­lion (6 tril­lion won) for the 2020 SMA, but Kang flatly de­nied this spec­u­la­tion.

“We can­not con­firm the ex­act fig­ure, but the re­ported num­ber is not what the U.S. asked for. Mak­ing pub­lic any de­tails over the SMA is not good for our ne­go­ti­at­ing strat­egy. The firm stance of the min­istry is that we will sign a deal at an ap­pro­pri­ate level that the pub­lic and the As­sem­bly can agree with,” she told the law­mak­ers.

In a doc­u­ment sub­mit­ted to the As­sem­bly, the for­eign min­istry also pledged to keep seek­ing a diplo­matic break­through to re­solve the on­go­ing trade and po­lit­i­cal row with Ja­pan. The po­lit­i­cal con­fronta­tion be­tween Seoul and Tokyo, which be­gan after the Supreme Court here ruled last year that Ja­pa­nese com­pa­nies should pro­vide com­pen­sa­tion to sur­viv­ing South Korean vic­tims forced to work for them dur­ing the 1910-45 colo­nial era, is show­ing lit­tle sign of end­ing.

“We will con­tinue to come up with diplo­matic so­lu­tions ac­cept­able to the pub­lic of the two coun­tries and sur­viv­ing vic­tims,” the min­istry said in the doc­u­ment.

De­fense Min­is­ter Jeong Kyeong-doo said Wed­nes­day that South Korea has asked Ja­pan to share the specifics of North Korea’s launch of a mis­sile be­lieved to be a sub­ma­rine launched bal­lis­tic mis­sile (SLBM) via the Gen­eral Se­cu­rity of Mil­i­tary In­for­ma­tion Agree­ment (GSOMIA).

“The Min­istry of De­fense asked Ja­pa­nese au­thor­i­ties to share the specifics of North Korea’s mis­sile via the GSOMIA as the mil­i­tary in­for­ma­tion-shar­ing pact be­tween Seoul and Tokyo is still valid,” Jeong told law­mak­ers dur­ing the Na­tional As­sem­bly’s an­nual au­dit of the Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense.

The min­is­ter added South Korea has no con­crete in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing data Ja­pan had about the mis­sile.

“But a mis­sile can be loaded with a stag­ing sys­tem and so if the sep­a­rated com­po­nents fell off, a radar would be able to de­tect the launch of one mis­sile as two or three,” Jeong told law­mak­ers.

Jeong said there had been no for­mal re­quest from the Ja­pa­nese side.

Seoul had de­cided late Au­gust not to re­new the GSOMIA in re­sponse to Ja­pan’s ear­lier de­ci­sion to re­move South Korea from its list of coun­tries re­ceiv­ing pref­er­en­tial treat­ment in trade. Ja­pan citied “se­cu­rity” rea­sons for its de­ci­sion.

The GSOMIA is set to ex­pire on Nov. 24.

Jeong said the in­for­ma­tion shar­ing be­tween the two coun­tries will con­tinue un­til its ex­pi­ra­tion.

Ahead of the au­dit, Cheong Wa Dae held a Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (NSC) meet­ing over the mis­sile launch presided over by Na­tional Se­cu­rity Of­fice (NSO) chief Chung Eui-yong.

The NSO said it would re­view the pos­si­bil­ity that the North con­ducted an SLBM test.

Also, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the uniden­ti­fied bal­lis­tic mis­sile was launched from the sea off the north­east­ern coast of Won­san in the North’s Gang­won Prov­ince.

It flew around 450 kilo­me­ters at an apogee of 910 kilo­me­ters.

While Seoul said it de­tected one bal­lis­tic mis­sile at 7:11 a.m., Ja­pan’s Chief Cabi­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga told re­porters in Ja­pan that there were two mis­siles, with one fall­ing within the coun­try’s EEZ off Shi­mane Pre­fec­ture at 7:27 and the other out­side the EEZ at 7:17 a.m.

The mis­sile launch marked the 11th con­ducted this year.

It came a day after South Korea show­cased its F-35A stealth fighter jets to mark the coun­try’s 71st Armed Forces Day.

North Korea said Tues­day evening the work­ing-level ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Py­ongyang and Wash­ing­ton would be held Satur­day, fol­low­ing a pre­lim­i­nary meet­ing Fri­day.

North Korea has con­demned South Korea’s in­tro­duc­ing sta­teof-the-art weaponry as well as its joint mil­i­tary drills with the United States to be a vi­o­la­tion of the in­ter-Korean Com­pre­hen­sive Mil­i­tary Agree­ment (CMA) reached Sept. 19 last year.

South Korea has said North Korea’s mis­sile launches were in vi­o­la­tion of the “spirit” of the CMA. Seoul’s Na­tional As­sem­bly on Sept. 30 passed a res­o­lu­tion of such claim, call­ing the North to stop “hos­tile” ac­tions.

Mil­i­tary ex­perts said the North’s lat­est launch could be of a Pukguk­song-3 SLBM, an up­graded ver­sion of Pukguk­song-1 (KN-11) and Pukguk­song-2 launched four times from 2015 to 2016 and two times in 2017, re­spec­tively.

While a Pukguk­song-1 uses liq­uid fuel and launched from a sub­ma­rine, a Pukguk­song-2 uses solid fuel and launched from the ground. A Pukguk­song-3 is spec­u­lated to use liq­uid fuel and launched from a sub­ma­rine.

They spec­u­lated the lat­est launch could be from the North’s “newly built sub­ma­rine” that had been re­vealed through the coun­try’s state-run Korean Cen­tral News Agency (KCNA) on July 23.

AFP-Yon­hap

Pedes­tri­ans walk past a screen in Tokyo re­port­ing about North Korea’s mis­sile launch into the sea on Oct. 2.

Yon­hap

De­fense Min­is­ter Jeong Kyeong-doo an­swers ques­tions dur­ing the Na­tional As­sem­bly au­dit of the Min­istry of De­fense at the min­istry’s head­quar­ters in Yongsan, down­town Seoul, Wed­nes­day.

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