Moon says U.S. has ‘nothing to lose’ from talks
Moon stressed that U.S. concessions to North Korea could be reversed if Pyongyang was caught cheating on its denuclearization pledge during an interview with Fox News during his five-day visit to New York for the UN General Assembly.
“One thing stands clear,” the president said. “South Korea and the U.S. have nothing to lose from denuclearization talks [with the North]. Measures that the North is required to take are abandon already-made nuclear stockpiles; dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear facility; and close down nuclear testing and missile testing sites.”
These steps were equivalent to “irreversible measures,” and the North’s demands of the United States could easily be reversed if Pyongyang doesn’t follow through with its denuclearization promises, Moon argued.
Joint South-U.S. military drills that have been suspended in response to the North’s initial denuclearization steps could simply be resumed should Pyongyang not live up to the conditions, Moon said. If the two Koreas agree to officially end the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, not a treaty, this could also be “revoked,” since it is a “political statement,” Moon emphasized.
“Even if sanctions were eased, we could simply strengthen them if the North tricks us,” he told Fox News. “For these reasons, I say that the United States has nothing to lose if President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un [of North Korea] continue dialogue based on a level of trust after signing on to a broad promise for denuclearization.”
Moon’s remarks appeared aimed at placating North Korea hawks in the United States, who harbor suspicions that Washington might have been manipulated by false denuclearization promises from Pyongyang. Many worry that President Trump gave away too much to Kim by meeting him in the first place on June 12 in Singapore before the young North Korean leader took concrete denuclearization measures.
President Moon also elaborated on the “corresponding measures” demanded by Pyongyang of Washington as part of the denuclearization process, and said such measures are not limited to sanctions relief.
“Corresponding measures do not mean they are entirely about sanctions relief. It could be an-end-of-war declaration or providing humanitarian aid or doing a non-political exchange, such as an art performance exchange,” he said.
Moon said that setting up a U.S. liaison office in Pyongyang could also serve as a corresponding measure. He said such a communication office would be needed by Washington, as long-term inspections of the North’s nuclear facilities by U.S. experts would be required to verify the denuclearization procedures.
Moon also proposed an exchange of economic observers by both sides as a possible corresponding measure.
In another address delivered Tuesday before U.S. foreign policy and North Korea experts at an event co-hosted by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, Moon said that an end to the Korean War should be declared to move toward a “peace regime” in the region and “accelerate the North’s denuclearization.”
Moon also dismissed concerns that an end to the war could change the status of U.S. troops in South Korea and the UN Command.
“An end-of-war declaration is a political statement en route to signing a peace treaty. Until the peace treaty is signed, an armistice will be maintained,” he stressed.
Moon stressed that the issue of U.S. troops in the South had to do with the U.S.-Korea alliance, not ending the war or signing a peace treaty.
“North Korean leader Kim also agrees with this concept [of the U.S. forces in South Korea],” he said.
Moon also conveyed to the audience some of what the North Korean leader said to him during Moon’s three-day stay in Pyongyang last week.
Moon quoted Kim as saying that he was “very well aware of international community’s suspicions that North Korea was only playing a trick or simply buying time in spite of the many steps for denuclearization that it has taken so far.”
Kim told Moon that his regime had nothing to gain from deception or delays to denuclearization, and said that his country would not be able to “withstand retaliation” from the United States if it went back on its denuclearization promise.
“Please have trust in our sincerity this time,” said Kim, according to Moon.
BY KANG JIN-KYU [firstname.lastname@example.org]