See More on Facebook

Diplomacy

Denuclearization process not yet ‘fully on track’: Unification Minister

Steps still need to be taken by the north to ensure a smooth process.


Written by

Updated: December 20, 2018

South Korea’s Unification Minister said Wednesday that North Korea’s denuclearization process had yet to get “fully on track,” indicating that the Seoul government believes Washington and Pyongyang have yet to properly discuss corresponding measures for the North‘s steps towards denuclearization.

“Regarding the issue of North Korea’s denuclearization, it would be an accurate assessment to say that the process (of talks between the US and the North) is not fully on track at the moment,” Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told reporters.

“There have been a US-North Korea summit and interactions between ranking officials from both sides, but we remain at a stage where both sides are struggling to be on the same page regarding practical and corresponding measures on denuclearization,” he added.

Cho’s remarks come amid stalled denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang. There have been no further signs of progress on the talks since US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang in October, when the two sides apparently discussed a second US-North Korea summit. The summit, which was first mentioned by US President Donald Trump in October, has yet to materialize.

A high-ranking government official later explained that once both sides start discussing detailed corresponding measures, the process will gain traction or enter a new stage. The official also noted that the lack of trust between the US and North Korea was an obstacle to the negotiations.

“North Korea said that if the US takes corresponding measures it would accept inspection of the Yongbyon nuclear complex. But it seems the problem stems from North Korea’s struggles to ‘calculate’ whether it will be able to safely secure sanctions relief when it makes that move,” he said.

But the official added that Washington and Pyongyang are starting to “understand each other a little,” suggesting that the government is still optimistic that both sides will continue the momentum of dialogue.

The official said Pyongyang could start by declaring a nuclear freeze, then move on to partial or complete dismantlement of its nuclear weapons upon submitting an inventory of the weapons. It could then accept relevant inspections in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The US, in return, could take nonpolitical and nonmilitary measures, sign a peace treaty, or establish diplomatic relations with the North, he added.

A point man on inter-Korean affairs, Cho also said that 2019 will be an important year in determining the prospects of the Korean Peninsula, explaining that countries in the region and other concerned countries have important political events scheduled in 2020.

“In that sense, 2019 is an important year and in particular, whether denuclearization will be put on track in earnest during the first quarter or by February and March,” he said, adding that this will determine how things will proceed throughout 2019 and into 2020 on the Korean Peninsula.

Though Cho did not specify the political events, North Korea is set to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea in 2020 and the US presidential election is scheduled to fall late in the same year.

Further to the US question, the official pointed to the concerns surrounding the impact of the Democratic control of the US House of Representatives on North Korea issues. He said the Democrats are “more active” than the Republicans when it comes to engagement policy toward North Korea, but given their opposition to the Trump administration, the House is likely to target the administration’s dealings with the North.

The official said that there is “no possibility” of President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attending a ceremony on Dec. 26 in the North’s border town of Kaesong to mark the launch of a joint road and railway project.

However, the official did not entirely rule out Kim’s visit within the year, saying it is the government’s position that barring special developments, the visit will proceed as planned.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Korea Herald
About the Author: The Korea Herald is the nation’s largest English-language daily and the country’s sole member of the Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy

Can Pakistan play a role in Iran-US tensions

An editorial in Dawn newspaper looks at the role that Pakistan might play in the ongoing tensions. Tensions between the US and Iran, particularly in the Gulf, are rising and the situation has sent alarm bells ringing throughout the region. It is in this context that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Tuesday that Pakistan was “closely following the situation” and would take a stand “that best served the national interest”. Pakistan is, of course, in a sensitive position as it has decades-old, deep relations with the US, while it shares a long border with Iran. Moreover, this country’s ties with the Gulf Arabs — particularly the Saudis — who are firmly in the American camp, are also cordial and have a strategic and defence dimension. In case of any hostilities


By Dawn
May 17, 2019

Diplomacy

China vows action as US moves to blacklist Huawei

Hopes of a trade deal recede as experts fear American companies could face a backlash. China has slammed the United States for putting technology giant Huawei on an export blacklist and said it will take “all necessary measures” to protect the legal rights of Chinese firms. The latest twist in the face-off between the US and China not only suggests that hopes of a trade deal are fast evaporating, but it could also delay the roll-out of 5G networks worldwide. US technology firms could also face a backlash, experts said. China’s Ministry of Commerce said yesterday that it resolutely opposed any coun


By The Straits Times
May 17, 2019

Diplomacy

Beijing stresses equality in trade talks with Washington

World market confidence dampened by escalation, Chinese state media says. Consultations between China and the United States are not a one-way street, and should be conducted amid a spirit of equality, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday in Russia. Wang said that it is pointless for one side to blame the other, or even to absolve themselves from responsibility. Wang stressed if one side is trying to place extreme pressure on the other, it will cause a legitimate counterattack. “The measures from us are not only to safeguard China’s own rights, but to protect the basic rules of the current multilateral trading mechanism,” Wang said. Wang made the remark in a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov during his visit to the Black Sea coastal city of Sochi. Experts warned that the rising US tariffs on Ch


By China Daily
May 16, 2019

Diplomacy

Kami Rita Sherpa climbs Everest for the 23rd time

Sherpa breaks his own record and is untouched as the man who has summited Everest the most number of times. Soft-spoken and always smiling, Kami Rita Sherpa is an affable man. At 49, he is lean and wiry, with a forehead burnt brown from the sun. But his amiable manner belies his accomplishments. On Wednesday morning, Kami Rita Sherpa scaled Mount Everest for the 23rd time, breaking his own record for the most ascents of the world’s highest peak. On the mountain, Kami Rita is seemingly unstoppable. But despite his unparalleled feats of skill and endurance on the world’s highest peak, he remains humble. “Climbing is my duty,” Kami Rita had told the Post in April, before he returned to Everest. “It’s not about the money, I enjoy working on the mountains.”


By The Kathmandu Post
May 16, 2019

Diplomacy

Nepal’s tea estate employees say enough is enough, begin indefinite strike

A special report by Tsering D Gurung looks at conditions for tea workers in Nepal. The Budhakaran Tea Estate, a sprawling property located in the town of Bhadrapur in Jhapa, would usually be teeming with activity this time of the year. Today, it is eerily quiet. Tea leaves meant to have been plucked with the onset of Spring have turned yellow. The gate to the processing factory has been locked for over a month. The only individuals working on the estate, which employs nearly 150 people, are two men guarding the owner’s home. Since April 1, tea plantation workers across eastern Nepal have gone on strike, shutting down estates to demand their employers implement the minimum daily wage and provide other benefits including social security and medical insurance guaranteed under the 2017 Labour Act. Although the law came into effect last July, almost all the workers say they have not s


By The Kathmandu Post
May 14, 2019

Diplomacy

Beijing vows retaliation on US trade

Ministry expresses ‘deep regrets’ in wake of added tariffs on Chinese goods. The Ministry of Commerce expressed “deep regrets” on Friday at the United States’ move to impose additional tariffs on Chinese imports and vowed to take necessary countermeasures. The comments came shortly after the US increased the rate of additional duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent, a move that economists said amounts to “typical trade bullying” that will backfire to hurt its own interests. The commerce ministry said in a statement that the 11th round of China-US high-level economic and trade consultations are underway, and China hopes the two sides can work together to resolve existing issues cooperatively. Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily news briefing that a healthy and stable Sino-US relationship serves the


By China Daily
May 13, 2019