US – N. Korea in talks to clarify ‘denuclearization’ term

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha responds to questions at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, Monday, about issues South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump will discuss during their summit Tuesday (KST). Yonhap. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.


NEW YORK, Sep 23, 2019, The Korea Times. The United States and North Korea are in talks to agree on a “mutually-acceptable” definition for “denuclearization,” South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Monday (KST) in a briefing at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, reported The Korea Times.

“Since the breakdown in Hanoi, yes, there has been a lot of discussion between Washington and Pyongyang over the issue of the desired end state for denuclearization, and the clarification of actual denuclearization. Lots of interpretations have been used regarding denuclearization as there are different definitions. The upcoming working-level discussions between Washington and Pyongyang will look into that issue, seriously and thoroughly, to gain a clear concept of the term,” the foreign minister said responding to a question from The Korea Times.

The minister added President Moon Jae-in will ask U.S. President Donald Trump to consider a “step-by-step” denuclearization methodology to bridge the gap between the United States and North Korean regarding the terms of denuclearization.

Moon will have a summit with Trump today (KST) with the goal of breaking the impasse in the denuclearization talks. Given this, Kang reiterated she thinks there are lots of questions about what denuclearization means and whether it means the same thing for the Koreas and the U.S.

“Still, I firmly believe the United States, South Korea and North Korea share the general end-goal of denuclearization. But what matters the most is how they share a more detailed understanding of the term ‘complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula’ and the end-state of the negotiations before agreeing on steps to advance the process,” the foreign minister added.

Kang elaborated Seoul prefers to pursue “complete denuclearization,” (of North Korea), while Washington wants Pyongyang to take final and fully-verified denuclearization steps.

In July this year, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made clear the U.S. and North Korea didn’t share the same definition of denuclearization as Washington has defined it as the verifiable dismantlement of the North’s nuclear weapons program, its means of production, and an end to the ballistic missile as well as Pyongyang’s chemical and biological weapons programs.

North Korea ― in return ― has been demanding security guarantees, according to Kang.

“Since the failure in Hanoi, North Korea has been talking a lot about Washington’s detailed plans and commitment to securing Pyongyang’s security. South Korea and the U.S. are on track to analyze what North Korea specifically wants for its regime security,” the minister told reporters

Another presidential aide said the summit will cover issues to advance the denuclearization talks such as a plan to create a joint peace zone with the international community inside the heavily-fortified Demilitarized Zone separating the Koreas.

In the 2018 Singapore summit statement, Trump pledged to provide “security guarantees” to North Korea and Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his commitment to complete denuclearization of the peninsula.

After the Hanoi summit failed to achieve any results, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho announced that “the security guarantees were more important to us (than sanctions relief) in the process of denuclearization.” After meetings with Kim, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin said security guarantees for North Korea from the U.S. were a “key prerequisite” toward denuclearization.

More recently, the North welcomed Trump’s decision to fire John Bolton, a North Korea hawk, saying the dismissal would help both Washington and Pyongyang have “more flexibility” in their nuclear disarmament talks.

President Moon plans to this year’s United Nations General Assembly as an opportunity to win backing from the international community for his peace initiative.

On Tuesday, (KST), the President Moon will hold a summit with Polish President Andrzej Duda, followed by meetings with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, in addition to the Trump summit. The following day, Moon will meet with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and make a speech to the Assembly, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

By Kim Yoo-chul

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