November 07, 2018 12:13
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un told President Moon Jae-in during a summit that submitting an inventory of his country's nuclear arsenal and facilities to the U.S. could spark an attack, national security adviser Chung Eui-yong said Tuesday.
"Before trust is built up between the U.S. and North Korea, demanding that we give the U.S. a list of our fissile materials, nuclear weapons and delivery systems is the same as telling us to submit a list of targets for attacks," he quoted Kim as saying.
Speaking at a National Assembly hearing, Chung added, "North Korea is aware that reporting a list of its nuclear weapons is a very important step toward denuclearization, but he feels the process must come after concrete measures are taken to build up trust by both sides."
"We are continuing negotiations with related countries to ensure a declaration officially ending the Korean War within this year as promised and we are very open when it comes to the format," he said.
North Korea has been pushing for such a declaration before it takes any further steps toward denuclearization, but Washington fears that this would rob it of a powerful negotiating card.
The U.S. and North Korea are set to hold high-level talks in New York on Thursday. The U.S. State Department said in a statement on Monday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the North's Central Committee of the Workers Party "will discuss making progress on all four pillars of the Singapore Summit joint statement, including achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization."
Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said, "We need to focus on the words 'four pillars' in the U.S. State Department statement." They are rather vaguely worded but include establishing a new U.S.-North Korean relationship, a peace framework on the Korean Peninsula, working toward complete denuclearization of the peninsula and the return of the remains of U.S. soldiers who died in the Korean War.
"Until now, the sequence progressed backwards from the end of the list, but I believe the first two issues will also be discussed in earnest during the high-level talks," Kim said.
Lately it has been pushing for verification of any inventory the North provides, which would put the focus on the inspection of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and Tongchang-ri missile engine test facility the North has destroyed as well as the Yongbyon nuclear plant, which is still very active.
Meanwhile, Kim Song-hye of the United Front Department and Ri Jong-hyok, vice chairman of the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, will visit South Korea next week for a seminar in Gyeonggi Province discussing peace in the region, according to the Unification Ministry.
Participants will urge Japan to admit guilt for the forced mobilization of Korean laborers to work in Japanese factories during World War II.
Park Byung-kwang of the Institute for National Security Strategy in Seoul, said, "It appears to be an attempt to convey the North's thoughts and to gauge our stance at a time when progress in U.S.-North Korean relations has been disappointing."
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