North Korean weapons systems shown at a recent military parade. (Yonhap)
This is an excerpt from President Moon Jae-in’s New Year press conference. -- Ed.
Q. North Korea doesn’t appear likely to give up nuclear weapons. What is the starting point of restarting denuclearization talks, and is there a change in South Korea’s policy direction in light of Joe Biden’s inauguration?
A. I think that the launch of the Biden administration is a turning point for beginning US-North Korea, inter-Korean talks anew. The talks should inherit and develop from the achievements from the Trump administration. The Singapore Declaration from the Trump administration was a very important declaration for denuclearization and establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula. It is regrettable that the declaration ended as a basic statement, and did not lead on to a concrete agreement.
However, by starting from the Singapore Declaration to talks, and negotiate more detailed plans then US-North Korea and inter-Korean talks could be carried out with more speed. I think that the North declaring that nuclear, and new weapons systems will be strengthened is based on the fact that denuclearization and peace talks were not successful. If denuclearization and peace talks are successful, then these areas could be resolved at the same time.
Of course, we cannot simply wait for success (in the talks). North Korea’s weapons programs are being closely monitored by Korean and US intelligence authorities. South Korea already has sufficient means to defend against nuclear and missile threats, and areas that are lacking will be continuously strengthened.