December 14, 2021 12:51
South Korea's spy chief on Monday urged the U.S. to offer coronavirus vaccines to North Korea in order to foster dialogue.
National Intelligence Service Director Park Jie-won, a staunch loyalist of President Moon Jae-in, told the annual Global Intelligence Summit in Seoul on Monday, "The North has no vaccination plans and is rejecting even COVAX vaccines. Momentum could be created to bring the North back to the dialogue table if the U.S. makes a bolder COVID-19 vaccine support proposal."
"Pyongyang has closed all borders due to the pandemic. It's difficult to have dialogue with officials, much less meet them. Borders are so tightly closed that not even an ant can get through," he admitted.
The North has already rejected 2.97 million doses of Sinovac's vaccine and some 6.73 million doses of the AstraZeneca's vaccine offered by COVAX, which suggests that the government's hopes of engaging it are a pipe dream.
But Park added, "Pyongyang can't keep its doors closed indefinitely. It needs to solve the current situation through cooperation with the international community."
"North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may be dissatisfied because his country has received nothing from the U.S. despite its moratorium on nuclear weapons testing, including suspending tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles over the past four years," he said.
"If the U.S. shows an interest in lifting sanctions on livelihood essentials which the North demanded in return for dismantling the Yongbyon nuclear facility, including imports of refined oil and daily necessities and exports of coal and minerals, it could spark the resumption of dialogue for the peace on the Korean Peninsula."
Park urged Pyongyang to "come to the dialogue table now with an open mind to discuss matters of major concerns, including a declaration to formally end the Korean War, which both Seoul and Washington are reviewing."
In fact the U.S. has politely rebuffed Moon’s quixotic proposal to declare an end to the Korean War before his term ends and insisted the North must take verifiable steps toward denuclearization first. North Korea has restarted the Yongbyon nuclear facility and is expanding uranium enrichment facilities.
A government official here claimed the North only rejected the vaccine donations because it is holding out for a better vaccine. "We understand that the North wants the Moderna vaccine because it can be kept at a relatively higher temperature than Pfizer," he said.
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