Re­al­is­tic ap­proach needed

North should take gen­uine ac­tion for de­nu­cle­ariza­tion

The Korea Times - - OPINION -

North Korea and the United States only agreed to dis­agree on the ex­tent of the for­mer’s de­nu­cle­ariza­tion and the lat­ter’s sanc­tions re­lief dur­ing their work­ing-level talks in Stock­holm, Satur­day. The break­down of the talks, the first of their kind since a no deal sum­mit be­tween U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in Fe­bru­ary, has cast darker clouds over the prospect for fu­ture ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The fail­ure be­lied high an­tic­i­pa­tion that both sides might have reached a break­through in the talks which had been stalled since the Hanoi sum­mit. Trump and Kim agreed to re­sume the work­ing-level talks when they had a sur­prise meet­ing at the truce vil­lage of Pan­munjeom in the Demil­i­ta­rized Zone in June. Trump’s re­cent re­moval of his hawk­ish na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, John Bolton, and his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s show of more flex­i­bil­ity had height­ened ex­pec­ta­tions about a po­ten­tial deal.

But Washington and Py­ongyang seemed to be poles apart over the de­nu­cle­ariza­tion for­mula. They re­main stuck to their pre­vi­ous po­si­tions. The U.S. still wants to strike a “com­pre­hen­sive” pack­age deal. The North con­tin­ues to in­sist on a step-by-step and re­cip­ro­cal ap­proach in or­der to get as many con­ces­sions from the U.S. in re­turn for its nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment.

What is more se­ri­ous is that the Kim regime has not given up its re­quest for sanc­tions re­lief and se­cu­rity guar­an­tees in re­turn for a nu­clear freeze or par­tial de­nu­cle­ariza­tion. This de­mand has made it dif­fi­cult to make real progress in the talks. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­as­sured Py­ongyang that there would be no regime change. But it has clung to its po­si­tion that sanc­tions will re­main in place un­til the North reaches a point where it achieves de­nu­cle­ariza­tion in an ir­re­versible way.

North Korea’s top nu­clear ne­go­tia­tor Kim My­ong-gil passed the blame onto the U.S. side for hav­ing come to the talks “empty-handed” af­ter meet­ing with his U.S. coun­ter­part, Stephen Biegun. “The ne­go­ti­a­tions did not live up to our ex­pec­ta­tions and broke down. I am very dis­pleased,” Kim said. He put the blame on the U.S., say­ing that it was en­tirely be­cause Washington had not dis­carded its old stance and at­ti­tude.

The North has reaf­firmed its year-end dead­line, urg­ing the U.S. to ac­cept its de­mand for a “new cal­cu­la­tion method” for ne­go­ti­a­tions. This means Py­ongyang con­tin­ues to put pres­sure on Washington to ease sanc­tions be­fore com­plete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion. How­ever, the U.S. has re­frained from en­gag­ing in a blame game. In­stead, it wants to keep the mo­men­tum by ac­cept­ing Swe­den’s in­vi­ta­tion to re­turn to Stock­holm for more dis­cus­sions with the North in two weeks.

It would be bet­ter for Py­ongyang to ac­cept the in­vi­ta­tion and con­tinue talk­ing with Washington to find a ne­go­ti­ated so­lu­tion to the nu­clear cri­sis. It is im­por­tant for both sides to take a re­al­is­tic ap­proach to make sub­stan­tive progress in dis­man­tling the North’s nu­clear arse­nal. Py­ongyang in par­tic­u­lar must prove its com­mit­ment to de­nu­cle­ariza­tion through gen­uine ac­tion. Then it needs to come up with a win-win strat­egy with the U.S. and South Korea for peace and co-pros­per­ity on the Korean Penin­sula.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Korea, Republic

© PressReader. All rights reserved.