U.S., N. Korea must discuss details on denuclearization before summit

The Yomiuri ShimbunWill the United States and North Korea be able to bridge differences in their respective standpoints over the North’s denuclearization this time around? Washington should make preparations deliberately and take the initiative in bilateral negotiations.

In his State of the Union address, U.S. President Donald Trump disclosed that the second U.S.-North Korea summit will be held on Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam.

While emphasizing a good relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and “a bold new diplomacy,” Trump acknowledged “much work remains to be done.” Actually, denuclearization talks have stagnated.

The North must immediately disclose its nuclear and missile programs. When the whole picture of the programs is understood, it will become possible to proceed with destruction and dismantlement of nuclear arms and materials, ballistic missiles, launching pads and so forth. Verification and surveillance by experts will be indispensable, too.

At which point of denuclearization will relaxation of sanctions and other concessions sought by Pyongyang be provided in return? How will such matters as a declaration of an end to the Korean War and a peace agreement between the United States and North Korea be incorporated into a road map for denuclearization? Solutions to these difficult issues will also be called for.

The problem is that the North has not expressed its intention to dismantle the nuclear arms and ballistic missiles that it already possesses. Kim has gone no further than saying that the regime “will not produce, test, use or proliferate nuclear weapons.”

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats has made public his assessment that North Korea is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons because it views them as critical to regime survival. It is hard to understand why Trump takes an optimistic view of the North without going along with this assessment.

Implement sanctions strictly

To obtain successful results from the upcoming summit, it is necessary in working-level talks to discuss details in regard to the North’s disclosure of its nuclear and missile development programs, and dismantlement of its nuclear arms as well as verification procedures. Trump should recognize that merely emphasizing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and relaxation of tensions, as in the previous summit last June, will fall short of expectations this time.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would reconcile policies with Trump on the issues of nuclear arms, missiles and the North’s abduction of Japanese nationals.

It is imperative to include the North’s short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles that have Japan within their shooting range, on top of its intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, in a list of arms subject to dismantling. Abe is called on to deepen cooperation with Washington to ensure that the upcoming Trump-Kim summit leads to improving the security environment for Japan.

It has been confirmed in a U.N. study by experts that the North sold fishing rights to Chinese fishery operators to earn foreign currency, an act viewed as an evasion of U.N. sanctions. Offshore smuggling, in which cargoes are transferred from ship to ship, is said to have been conducted repeatedly.

It is obvious that the encirclement to cut off North Korea’s funding sources has become loose. The international community is called on to carry out sanctions strictly until denuclearization can be achieved.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 8, 2019) Speech


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