US threat part of denuclearisation
SEOUL: North Korea’s commitment to the “denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula” also includes “eliminating the US nuclear threat to Korea”, says North Korean state media.
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un issued a joint statement after their historic meeting in Singapore in June that reaffirmed that the North would “work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula” and gave US guarantees of security to North Korea.
Conflicting or vague views of what exactly “denuclearisation” means, however, have complicated negotiations that now appear stalled.
Yesterday’s commentary, released by state-run KCNA news agency, is one of the clearest explanations since the June summit of how Pyongyang sees denuclearisation. “When we refer to the Korean peninsula, the term encompasses the area of DPRK plus South Korean territory where US nuclear weapons and other forms of aggression forces are deployed,” the editorial said, using the initials of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“When we refer to the ‘denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula’ as well, it should be correctly understood as removing all nuclear threat factors from not only the North and the South but from all neighbouring areas.”
North Korea rejected American calls for it to unilaterally denuclearise and Washington should abandon the “delusion” of forcing Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons “via pressure and oppression”, the article said.
The US has said that it will not lift sanctions until more progress has been made toward the verifiable denuclearisation of North Korea.
Washington has also rejected any suggestion it would reduce its military presence in the region as part of a deal with North Korea, but in a surprise move after the summit, Trump announced the Pentagon would cancel most of its largest military exercises with the South Koreans.
The definition of denuclearisation is likely to be raised again as Trump said he was working to meet again with Kim sometime early next year.
“It is obvious that denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula is a joint business that cannot be achieved unless both Korea and the United States strive together,” the KCNA commentary said.
“In this sense, the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula should be defined as ‘completely eliminating the US nuclear threat to Korea’ before it can eliminate our nuclear deterrent.”
The US deployed nuclear weapons in South Korea from 1958 to 1991. Since they were withdrawn, the US has extended its “nuclear umbrella” of support to Japan and South Korea, using bombers and submarines based elsewhere.
At a press briefing in Washington on Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said he would not “split words” when asked whether the promise of the “denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula” meant only North Korea or the broader region.
“We are focused on the denuclearisation of North Korea. We remain confident and we look forward to the commitments Chairman Kim and President Trump have made.” |