US Resists as North Korea Presses for Nuke-free Peace
September 7, 2018
AntiWar.com & Reuters & Associated Press
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and suspension of future long-range missile tests, while expressing faith in Donald Trump's increasingly embattled efforts to settle a nuclear impasse. Kim reportedly expressed frustration with skepticism about his nuclear disarmament intentions and demanded that his "goodwill measures" be met in kind.
US Continues to Resist North Korean Calls for Peace Declaration
State Dept: US wants denuclearization
before anything else is addressed
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(September 5, 2018) – White House and State Department officials are reiterating that they have no current interest in making a deal with North Korea that would involve a peace declaration ending the Korean War.
The State Department said on Wednesday that the US position is that "denuclearization has to take place before we get to other parts." The administration has repeatedly said they believe Korean denuclearization will take years, and that they want "progress" before the 2020 election.
The Korean War began in 1950, and 68 years later, there has never been a formal peace treaty ending the conflict. North Korea has been seeking a peace treaty for decades, with the US always resisting such a deal.
But the Trump Administration had previously indicated that they were in favor of a peace deal, particularly since South Korea started talking up such a deal themselves. This was a big turnaround at the time, but they have spun on a dime again and once again are showing little interest in peace.
Raising it as at least a possibility, however, has made it more difficult for the Trump Administration to formally say they don't want peace. Instead, they are trying to condition the start of the process to a long-term goal.
From the North Korean perspective, this is likely to be problematic, as they've long doubted US seriousness about the peace process, and had initially conditioned denuclearization on a peace deal. Now, the US envisions getting denuclearization and not accepting peace, which would boil down to North Korea getting nothing in return for giving up its nuclear program, and having nothing left to offer in return for peace, something the US clearly has little interest in in and of itself.
North Korea's Kim Says Wants to
Denuclearize in Trump's First Term
Hyonhee Shin, Joyce Lee, and Soyoung Kim / Reuters
SEOUL (September 5, 2018) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he wants to denuclearize the Korean peninsula during US President Donald Trump's first term, as he agreed to hold a third summit with his South Korean counterpart this month in Pyongyang, Seoul officials said on Thursday.
Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet in the North Korean capital on Sept. 18-20, during which they will discuss "practical measures" toward denuclearization, the South's national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, told reporters a day after meeting Kim in Pyongyang.
Kim told the South Korean officials that his faith in Trump remains "unchanged" and he wanted to denuclearize and end long-standing hostile relations between North Korea and the United States during Trump's first term ending early 2021, Chung said.
Kim's remarks to South Korean officials mark the first time that the North Korean leader has offered a potential timeline for dismantling his country's nuclear weapons program.
Kim "reaffirmed his determination to completely denuclearize" the peninsula, and expressed his willingness for close cooperation with South Korea and the United States in that regard, Chung said.
"Chairman Kim . . . expressed frustration over the doubt shown by some parts of the international society about his will," Chung said.
"North Korea has been preemptively carrying out measures needed for denuclearization, and Kim said he would appreciate that such good faith is accepted with good faith."
South Korea's Moon sent Chung and other envoys to the North Korean capital on Wednesday to set the timing and agenda for the third inter-Korean summit this year, and to break the impasse in talks between Washington and Pyongyang over dismantling the North's nuclear program.
Kim and Trump held a watershed summit in June in Singapore, during which they said they would work toward complete denuclearization, establish "new" relations, and build "a lasting and stable peace regime" on the Korean peninsula.
But negotiations have since stalled over differences on how to implement the agreement, and amid signs of North Korea continuing with its weapons program. Trump abruptly canceled US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's planned visit to Pyongyang last month, citing a lack of progress in the talks.
During the Wednesday meeting, Kim emphasized that the initial steps North Korea has already taken -- including dismantling its underground nuclear test site and a missile engine facility -- means the country has ended nuclear and long-range missile testing "for good," Chung said.
"If reciprocation is shown for North Korea's preemptive measures that have already been completed, he strongly expressed his will that more active measures for North Korea's denuclearization can be taken."
Pyongyang has said the United States needs to reciprocate North Korea's goodwill gestures, which also include the return of US war remains, by stating an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War.
But US officials said they have already made concessions, with the suspension of US-South Korean joint military exercises. They also worry that an end-of-war declaration could weaken North Korea's incentive for denuclearization, while raising questions about some 18,500 US troops stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the Korean War.
Kim brushed off such worries on Wednesday, and said declaring an end of the Korean War has nothing to do with the US-South Korean alliance or US troops in South Korea, Chung said.
Kim Jong Un Demands
Goodwill Measures as Koreas Set Summit
Hyung-jin Kim, Kim Tong-Hyung and Foster Klug / Associated Press
SEOUL, South Korea (September 5, 2018) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and to the suspension of all future long-range missile tests, while also expressing faith in an increasingly embattled President Donald Trump's efforts to settle a nuclear impasse, South Korean officials and the North's official media said Thursday.
Kim also reportedly expressed frustration with outside skepticism about his nuclear disarmament intentions and demanded that his "goodwill measures" be met in kind.
The trove of comments from Kim was filtered through his propaganda specialists in Pyongyang and the South Korean government, which is keen on keeping engagement alive. They come amid a growing standoff with the United States on how to proceed with diplomacy meant to settle a nuclear dispute that had many fearing war last year.
Only hours earlier, a South Korean delegation returned from talks with Kim where they set up a summit for Sept. 18-20 in Pyongyang between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, their third meeting since April.
Each statement reportedly made by Kim will be parsed for clues about the future of the nuclear diplomacy. His reported commitment to a nuclear-free Korea, for instance, wasn't new information -- Kim has repeatedly declared similar intentions before -- but it allows hopes to rise that negotiators can get back on track after the recriminations that followed Kim's meeting in June with Trump in Singapore.
The impasse between North Korea and the United States, with neither side seemingly willing to make any substantive move, has generated widespread skepticism over Trump's claims that Kim will really dismantle his nuclear weapons program.
"Chairman Kim Jong Un has made it clear several times that he is firmly committed to denuclearization, and he expressed frustration over skepticism in the international community over his commitment," Chung Eui-yong, Moon's national security adviser and the head of the South Korean delegation to Pyongyang, told reporters on Seoul on Thursday. "He said he's pre-emptively taken steps necessary for denuclearization and wants to see these goodwill measures being met with goodwill measures."
Chung reported Kim as saying that work to dismantle the only engine-test site in the country "means a complete suspension of future long-range ballistic missile tests." Kim said he'd take "more active" measures toward denuclearization if his moves are met with corresponding goodwill measures, Chung said.
Kim told Chung he still had faith in Trump despite diplomatic setbacks, and emphasized that he has not once talked negatively about Trump to anyone, including his closest advisers.
Kim also said an end-of-war declaration that Seoul and Pyongyang have been pushing Washington to sign off on wouldn't weaken the US-South Korean alliance or lead to the withdrawal of the 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea to prevent North Korean attack, according to Chung.
The summit later this month between Kim and Moon, the driving force behind the current diplomacy, will be a crucial indicator of whether larger nuclear negotiations with the United States will proceed.
Moon is seen as eager to keep the diplomacy alive in part so that he can advance his ambitious engagement plans with the North, which would need US backing to succeed. The inter-Korean summit comes on the eve of a gathering of world leaders at the United Nations in New York at the end of September, but Seoul said Thursday that it was unlikely Kim would attend. Seoul has indicated an interest in Kim and Trump meeting in New York, and Trump, who is facing growing domestic turmoil, has hinted that another summit could happen.
While pushing ahead with summits and inter-Korean engagement, Seoul is trying to persuade Washington and Pyongyang to proceed with peace and denuclearization processes at the same time so they can overcome a growing dispute over the sequencing of the diplomacy.
Seoul and Pyongyang both want a declaration to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War. US officials have insisted that a peace declaration, which many see as a precursor to the North eventually calling for the removal of all US troops from the Korean Peninsula, cannot come before North Korea takes more concrete action toward abandoning its nuclear weapons.
Such steps may include providing an account of the components of its nuclear program, allowing outside inspections and giving up a certain number of its nuclear weapons during the early stages of the negotiations.
The Korean War ended with an armistice, leaving the peninsula technically still at war. Moon has made an end-of-war declaration an important premise of his peace agenda with North Korea.
While an end-of-war declaration wouldn't imply a legally binding peace treaty, experts say it could create political momentum that would make it easier for North Korea to steer the discussions toward a peace regime, diplomatic recognition, economic benefits and security concessions.
After their June summit in Singapore, Trump and Kim issued a vague statement about a nuclear-free peninsula without describing when and how it would occur. Post-summit nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang were rocky and quickly settled into a stalemate.
North Korea has accused the United States of making "unilateral and gangster-like" demands for denuclearization and holding back on the end-of-war declaration.
Trump called off a planned visit to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month, citing insufficient progress in denuclearization.
The two past inter-Korean summits in April and May removed war fears and initiated a global diplomatic push that culminated with the meeting between Kim and Trump in June.
But Moon faces tougher challenges heading into his third meeting with Kim, with the stalemate in nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington raising fundamental questions about Kim's supposed willingness to abandon his nuclear weapons.
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