“On the matter of denuclearization, the South Korean government has its own solution,” a high-level Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
However, the official declined to elaborate on whether the government’s solution includes a specific timeline on the North’s denuclearization or incentives.
South Korea has been on the same page with the US in its demand for the North to completely, verifiably and irreversibly abandon its nuclear weapons program. Seoul also supports sanctions against the North until it abandons its nuclear weapons program.
|This composite image shows (from L) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump. (Yonhap)|
Cheong Wa Dae has hoped for incremental implementation for comprehensive denuclearization. It believes that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump could reach a “comprehensive agreement” on denuclearization during the upcoming summit to be followed by talks by the two sides to discuss detailed measures.
The official‘s comment comes amid growing concerns that North Korea and the US’ differing definitions of “denuclearization” could take a toll on their upcoming summit expected to take place by early June.
The Trump administration, which has defined past negotiations with North Korea as having failed, has made it clear that denuclearization of North Korea means that the communist states dismantles its nuclear weapons program in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.
Mike Pompeo, the nominee for US secretary of state, said at his US Senate confirmation hearing Thursday that the Trump administration would not reward North Korea before its nuclear weapons program is dismantled.
“It is the intention of the president and the administration not to do that this time to make sure that before we provide rewards, we get the outcome permanently, irreversibly, that is that we hope to achieve,” said Pompeo, who currently serves as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
North Korea, on the other hand, wants denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula achieved through phased and simultaneous steps taken by South Korea and the US.
“The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace,” Kim said during his recent visit to China, according to Xinhua News Agency.
It is unclear what Kim wants in return for giving up the nuclear weapons program. He is thought to want the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea and the US nuclear umbrella over the country, as well as normalization of relations with the US.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has acknowledged the gap between North Korea and the US on their paths to denuclearization.
“I hear that the US and North Korea are showing sincere attitudes about the (upcoming summit), but there is still a gap (between the countries),” Moon said in a meeting with a group of 21 senior advisers Thursday. “It is our task to narrow the gap.”
“We will have to make the South-North Korean summit successful so that it can lead to the success of the North Korea-United States summit,” he said.
Cho Sung-ryul, senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Strategy, stressed South Korean government’s role in finding a common ground between North Korea and the US.
“The government should make a comprehensive agreement during the inter-Korean summit and should attempt to push North Korea and the US to strike a package deal during North Korea-US summit,” he told a forum Thursday.
“In the multilateral talks on denuclearization to resume afterwards, the agreement should be implemented step-by-step,” he said, adding that bilateral talks, three-way and six-party talks should all proceed simultaneously.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org)