N.Korea Won't Give up Nukes, Says Prominent Defector

  • By Kim Myong-song

    May 15, 2018 11:28

    A senior North Korean defector on Monday said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's ultimate goal remains to become a nuclear-armed state.

    Thae Yong-ho, the former No. 2 man in the North Korean Embassy in London and now a vocal critic of the regime, was speaking at a book launch in the National Assembly. He said North Korea's idea of denuclearization is "quite different from the abandonment of nuclear weapons."

    Thae told Newsis that the current flurry of international diplomacy will not end with "a sincere and complete disarmament" but with "a reduced North Korean nuclear threat."

    "In the end, North Korea will remain a nuclear power packaged as a non-nuclear state," he added.

    He said the North's idea of denuclearization "was clearly outlined" in remarks by former North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju to Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing in 2006.

    Kang and Li met secretly in Shenyang right after the regime's first nuclear test. Li reportedly complained that the North violated regime founder Kim Il-sung's last wish for denuclearization by conducting the test. But Kang answered, "China seems to have no idea of what denuclearization means for the Korean Peninsula."

    Kang said for the North it means the pullout of U.S. nuclear weapons from the peninsula, the suspension of the joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises, and assurances from the U.S. that it will not use nuclear weapons against the North.

    A part of the inter-Korean summit declaration on April 27 says the two Koreas "agreed to carry out their respective roles and responsibilities... [and] confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula," Thae pointed out.

    "That means that U.S. military assets carrying nuclear weapons should not be allowed to stay in the Korean Peninsula, and South Korea should persuade the U.S. to give assurances that it will not use its nuclear weapons."

    "Just about a week before the inter-Korean summit, Kim told party officials that nuclear weapons are the 'strongest sword' and 'the powerful deterrent' that guarantees the North's sovereignty," Thae said. "Kim won't give up nuclear weapons."

    In his memoir, Thae said Kim Jong-un is "very short-tempered and also violent and acts impulsively."

    North Korean defector Thae Yong-ho speaks at the launch of his memoir at the National Assembly in Seoul on Monday.

    Asked if there is any possibility of Kim seeking an open economy like China and Vietnam, he told reporters, "It'll be impossible. He will likely seek a model like the Kaesong Industrial Complex."

    The Kaesong model envisions letting people earn money but prohibiting free movement and keeping them under tight party control. "Many people expected that some 50,000 North Korean workers in Kaesong would open their eyes to the outside world as they came in contact with South Korean businessmen. But in fact, public order was better maintained in Kaesong than in any other North Korean city."

    "Kim Jong-un is trying to spread this model to the whole of North Korea," he added.

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