North says no more sanctions in return for end-of-war talksNorth Korea demanded that sanctions be lifted as a condition for negotiations to discuss a formal declaration to end the Korean War, a parliamentary audit found on Thursday.
The North’s stipulation for beginning talks to formally end the war was confirmed during an audit of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) conducted by the National Assembly’s intelligence committee.
According to intelligence committee members Kim Byung-kee of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and Ha Tae-keung of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP), the NIS reported that the North’s demands for discussing a formal end to the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended with only an armistice and not a peace treaty, included the lifting of sanctions on mineral exports and imports of refined oil along with the suspension of joint training exercises between South Korea and the United States.
North Korea’s conditions for talks on formally concluding the war — which carry no guarantee of a peace treaty or any concessions from the North to give up its nuclear or missile weapons programs — has emerged as a sticking point of difference between Seoul and Washington.
Even as the United States' Joe Biden administration says that it is willing to meet the North “anywhere, anytime” and without pre-conditions, Washington is clear that sanctions will not be lifted without meaningful change from Pyongyang, while the North insists that sanctions must be scrapped before it will come to any negotiating table.
The North is further demanding that once end-of-war talks are underway, the United States must drop its “hostile policy” and “double standards” towards the reclusive regime, as the country’s state media often refers to Washington’s approach to Pyongyang.
It is further unclear to what extent current U.S. policy regarding the Korean Peninsula, including the stationing of U.S. troops in the South — a long point of objection by the North, but also viewed as a security guarantee and sign of U.S. military commitment to the South — must change for the North to be satisfied to proceed to formally ending the war.
While the Moon administration is pursuing a formal end-of-war declaration as necessary to resume denuclearization talks with North Korea, denuclearization has not been mentioned by the North as the next stage after the Korean War is officially ended.
Given these conditions set by the North, it is unlikely that Washington would accept sanctions relief as a price for restarting talks with Pyongyang, according to analysts.
However, there remains a possibility that Pyongyang seeks to apply pressure on Seoul to convince Washington to scrap sanctions by setting strong conditions for end-of-war talks.
The North could also stand to benefit strategically from even a pause in joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which maintain the allies’ readiness in the event of war.
BY MICHAEL LEE [email@example.com]