Political parties clash over ‘optimism’ in NK-US talks
Korea’s political parties clashed (KST) in New York, Friday, over the prospects for the planned working-level denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea during a National Assembly audit of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, being held there.
The audit came a few hours after a North Korean delegation arrived in Stockholm, Sweden, Oct. 4, for the talks with the U.S., after months of deadlock and increased tensions mostly due to a series of missile tests by Pyongyang.
During the audit, lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) remained optimistic over the talks, urging Washington to ease sanctions. The opposition parties, however, expressed concern about the recent missile launches, saying they underscored the need for the U.S. to move quickly to negotiate limits to the North’s growing arsenal.
“Because both the United States and North Korea will pursue a new method at the talks, expectations are that they will bring about a visible outcome. A complete closure of the Yongbyon nuclear complex in North Korea would be good enough from our perspective,” said Rep. Lee Seokhyun of the DPK.
Rep. Choo Mi-ae, also of the DPK, said she believed Washington and Pyongyang acknowledged that maintaining sanctions wasn’t preferred in terms of breaking the impasse. “Sanctions can create a humanitarian crisis in North Korea,” she said. But Rep. Chung Jin-suk of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) said South Korea should speak up at the United Nations over the North’s recent test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile because this violated the international body’s sanctions.
“I hope the upcoming working-level talks between the United States and North Korea produce good results, but South Korea is advised to prepare a plan B to deal with a failure of the talks in Stockholm,” the LKP’s Rep. Won Yoo-chul said.
How to define denuclearization and whether North Korea accepts the United States’ “unofficial” offer for a partial easing of economic sanctions will be the main talking points between the nuclear negotiators in Stockholm.
North Korea’s concept of denuclearization, made clear through years of failed discussions with the international community, “bears no resemblance to the U.S.’ definition,” according to an anonymous diplomatic source. Pyongyang prefers to launch lengthy, complicated negotiations to get agreement on phased actions each party must take. The United States, on the other hand, wants the North to present a detailed denuclearization plan including a roadmap to completely freeze production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons.
Diplomatic sources here said North Korea is expected to seek a formal declaration ending the Korean War to replace the 1953 armistice.
North Korean delegates for working-level denuclearization talks with the United States leave their embassy in Stockholm for preliminary contact with the U.S. negotiators, Friday (KST).