U.S. policy unchanged on North nuke issueThe Obama administration sees no reason to change its policy of pursuing North Korea’s denuclearization through six-party talks even after the Republicans take control of the House in January, a senior White House official said yesterday.
“There is a long history of bipartisan consensus on North Korea policy,” the official told reporters, asking for anonymity. “I don’t see a reason why change in the leadership in the House of Representatives will lead to an alteration of America’s basic commitment, which has been consistent through both our Republican and Democratic administrations, that North Korea needs to completely and verifiably denuclearize, end its belligerent and provocative behavior, especially towards South Korea.”
The remarks come one day after the U.S. midterm elections, which saw the Republican Party regain control of the House and greatly reduce the Democrats’ majority in the Senate thanks to a prolonged economic slump and near double-digit unemployment.
The U.S. stands by South Korea in demanding North Korea apologize for the sinking of a South Korean warship and show its commitment to denuclearization before returning to the six-party talks, which have already been in limbo since early last year due to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.
North Korea denies responsibility in the Cheonan’s sinking, which killed 46 sailors in the Yellow Sea in March.
Some believe the sinking was masterminded by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s youngest son and heir, Kim Jong-un, amid a third-generation power transition in a communist state.
The leader-in-waiting was recently promoted to military general and the vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party in September.
Jack Pritchard, president of the Washington-based Korea Economic Institute, flew to Pyongyang Tuesday amid speculation that the former U.S. coordinator on North Korea policy will act as a middleman to help revive U.S. bilateral dialogue with North Korea for the resumption of six-party talks.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Tuesday that Pritchard’s trip is a private one, which does not involve any message from the Obama administration.