October 17, 2018 13:29
President Moon Jae-in has told French President Emmanuel Macron that North Korea's denuclearization needs to be stimulated further by easing UN sanctions if the North's measures to scrap its nuclear program are believed to have reached an irreversible level.
But North Korea has not remotely reached a point where denuclearization is irreversible. It has not even started. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un flatly refused to give the U.S. even a partial inventory of its nuclear facilities and stockpiles when visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pleaded with him, and instead demanded that the U.S. officially declare an end to the Korean War to "build trust."
The first step to denuclearization must be reporting all nuclear facilities and fissile materials, because how else will anyone know whether North Korea is scrapping anything? This is a no-brainer. Yet the North is vehemently protesting before taking even the first step, claiming that the demand is tantamount to "mafia-like tactics."
Yet the South Korean president labors under the delusion that North Korea's denuclearization has progressed significantly. During his summit last month with U.S. President Donald Trump, Moon even said the North’s denuclearization had almost reached an "irreversible" level already. U.S. nuclear experts, by contrast, say Pyongyang's gestures so far -- dismantling a moribund nuclear test site in Punggye-ri and a static missile launch pad it no longer needs -- do not qualify as denuclearization at all.
Moon hopes that North Korea's denuclearization can reach an irreversible level in a few months and is going around the world asking global leaders to stimulate the process by easing sanctions. Macron quite rightly brushed him off, saying sanctions must continue until "concrete denuclearization steps are taken."
The first paragraph of a joint statement released after the Moon-Macron summit duly calls for "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" by North Korea. Even the U.S. is reluctant to use these terms because the North bristles at any mention of the acronym "CVID," Macron seems to have insisted on including it.
Moon's government likes to make it look as if the U.S. is not showing any flexibility. But the international community stands united in the view that sanctions must remain in place until concrete steps are taken because that is the only way the North can be pressured to scrap its nuclear weapons. Moon needs to take a close look at his policies and determine whether they are helping or harming such international efforts.
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