U.S. should use working-level talks to press Pyongyang to denuclearize

The Yomiuri ShimbunIt is necessary to aim at holding working-level negotiations for advancing the stagnating denuclearization of North Korea. For a second U.S.-North Korea summit to succeed, sufficient advance preparations are vital.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks with Kim Jong Un, the chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, in Pyongyang, and agreed to accelerate working-level negotiations on the issue. It has been announced that Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, and North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui will lead the respective negotiating teams.

“Both the leaders [Trump and Kim] believe there’s real ... substantive progress that can be made at the next summit,” Pompeo emphasized. He apparently bears in mind that the first summit held in June went only so far as both sides agreeing on the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” but was devoid of concrete results.

Kim expressed to Pompeo his intention of allowing international inspections in North Korea concerning the dismantlement of a nuclear testing site and a missile engine testing facility. Isn’t this connected with Kim’s tactics of extracting such concessions as a guarantee from the United States of the regime’s survival, by playing the cards of dismantling those facilities which have become no longer necessary, and of having them inspected?

North Korea has suggested its readiness to dismantle a nuclear facility in Yongbyon on the condition that the United States takes corresponding action, but it has been said that there are secret uranium enrichment facilities at other sites. In order to realize complete denuclearization, it is indispensable for Pyongyang to declare all of its nuclear-related facilities and allow outside verification.

Japan needs breakthrough

The problem is that North Korea has not yet indicated any intention of abandoning the nuclear arms and ballistic missiles in its possession, while maintaining its system of developing, producing and deploying nuclear missiles.

Reaching an agreement between both leaders, an accord that will lead to reducing the nuclear capability and nuclear development ability of North Korea: The United States must continue stressing the importance of such an achievement, through working-level negotiations, and pressing Kim to make his decision.

It is necessary to pay attention to such moves as the beefing up of cooperation among North Korea, China and Russia.

Preparations are being advanced for Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit North Korea and for Kim to visit Russia. If realized, it would mark, in both cases, each leader’s first-ever such visit. North Korea is undoubtedly trying to bolster its position toward the United States, with the backing of China and Russia.

At the U.N. Security Council, both China and Russia are asserting that the sanctions against North Korea should be eased.

The sanctions are important tools to urge North Korea to take measures toward denuclearization. Pressure must not be slackened until progress is made on lessening Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threat.

Pompeo has raised with Kim the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea. Pompeo said that Kim completely understands the need for North Korea to strive to address a number of issues, including the abductions, so as to drastically improve its relations with the international community.

While discerning Pyongyang’s stance, Japan must find a breakthrough to reach comprehensive solutions to the abduction, nuclear and missile issues.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 10, 2018)Speech


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