Speaking at a joint press conference with her Germen counterpart Heiko Maas in Seoul, Kang said that each step taken by North Korea toward denuclearization should be verified.
“The North has shut down its nuclear test site without verification by the international community, we hope that there will be an opportunity to verify the shutdown,” she said, referring to the Punggye-ri nuclear test site North Korea publicly closed down in May.
“We see North Korea’s dismantling of a missile launching pad as meaningful, but it is also a step that needs to be verified,” Kang said. There have been reports that North Korea has started dismantling facilities at the Sohae rocket test site used to develop liquid-fuel engines for ballistic missiles.
Kang’s US counterpart Mike Pompeo also touted the move as consistent with a commitment by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the June Singapore summit with US President Donald Trump, but said that the US had been pressing North Korea to allow inspectors on the ground when the site was dismantled.
The meeting between Kang and Maas came as South Korea, the US and the international community engage in diplomatic efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.
Maas, who was in South Korea for the first round of bilateral strategic talks, pledged his support in what could be a “difficult and complicated” denuclearization process.
“It is important for the North to show (its denuclearization commitment) through action. It means North Korea should take concrete steps toward complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. It should be done under the control of the international community,” he said.
“When an opportunity arises, (Germany) wants to provide technical knowledge,” he added.
On the UN sanctions on North Korea, Hass, whose country will join the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member next year, and Kang reaffirmed that international sanctions should remain in place until North Korea completely denuclearizes.
“We are not free from skepticism when it comes to North Korea because the North has violated international laws in the past and disappointed us. But the chance we have right now might be the biggest and the last chance,” Maas said.
During their meeting earlier in the day, the ministers shared views on the latest developments on the Korean Peninsula, multilateral cooperation and bilateral trade. They agreed to hold strategic dialogue regularly and strengthen diplomatic channels in various sectors.