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Diplomacy

North Korea playing hardball with nuclear weapons list

Kim Jong-un says he won’t submit the weapons list and presented several demands.


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Updated: October 16, 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un refused to submit a list of North Korea’s nuclear sites and inventory as requested by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during their talks in Pyongyang earlier this month, instead demanding a declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War and the lifting of economic sanctions, Japanese, U.S. and South Korean sources with knowledge of U.S.-North Korean talks have told The Yomiuri Shimbun.

As the United States and North Korea remain divided over their key demands, the success of a second U.S.-North Korea summit likely depends on how much progress working-level officials can make in their immediate negotiations.

During their Oct. 7 meeting, Pompeo asked Kim to submit at least part of the nuclear list, a request the North Korean leader rejected, according to sources. “If we submit the list without first building mutual trust, the United States would only call it untrustworthy and demand we submit the list once again. If that were to happen, we would end up having a battle,” Kim was quoted as saying.

Kim insisted that it is necessary for the two countries to forge a relationship of trust before North Korea takes steps toward denuclearization.

“If a trusting relationship can be built between North Korea and the United States through a declaration of the end of the war, our denuclearization process will accelerate fast enough to eliminate U.S. concerns,” Kim added.

The North Korean leader also insisted that the United States lift economic sanctions against his country as a response to sincere steps Pyongyang has taken, such as the return of the remains of some of the U.S. servicemen who fought in the Korean War, according to sources.

Pompeo said his country could not accede to a declaration of the war’s end when North Korea had promised only to dismantle its nuclear facility in Yongbyon, northwest North Korea, in the Pyongyang joint statement on Sept. 19.

The secretary of state demanded North Korea abandon all its programs for weapons of mass destruction, including biological and chemical weapons. He also said the United States would take steps North Korea considers reasonable — such as a declaration to end the Korean War — only if Pyongyang’s nuclear warheads, intercontinental ballistic missiles and mobile launch pads are either dismantled or moved outside the country, even if only a little, according to sources.

Pompeo also called for North Korea to allow U.S. experts and International Atomic Energy Agency officials to inspect the Yongbyon site because records of its nuclear activities should be examined before the facility is dismantled.

In response, Kim suggested that whether to accept inspections of the Yongbyon site should be discussed at working-level talks between the two countries, according to the sources.

The talks are expected to be held soon in Vienna, where the IAEA is headquartered and will be led by Stephen Biegun, U.S. special representative for North Korea, and Choe Son Hui, North Korea’s vice foreign minister.



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About the Author: The Japan News is published by The Yomiuri Shimbun, which boasts the largest circulation in the world.

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