NIS believes North won’t give up its nukes: Rep

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NIS believes North won’t give up its nukes: Rep

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) has recently concluded that it is impossible for North Korea to give up its development of nuclear weapons in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions, according to an opposition lawmaker Monday.

Rep. Lee Eun-jae, a two-term lawmaker from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and a member of the parliamentary Intelligence Committee, said she was recently briefed by an NIS official on the results of the spy agency’s assessment of a report by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at a key Workers’ Party meeting.

According to Lee, the NIS assessed that it was impossible for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, that it will continue to strengthen its nuclear deterrence and that it has a goal to keep building up its defenses and strengthen its military capabilities.

On the denuclearization talks with the United States, Lee said that the NIS determined that North Korea believes the safety of the country and its future security could not be exchanged for anything, “thus a method of negotiations involving an exchange of nuclear weapons for sanctions is not possible,” according to Lee.

Kim delivered a report at a plenary meeting of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, which ran from Dec. 27 to 31.

During the meeting, Kim declared that North Korea will no longer be bound to a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) testing, which it has kept since late 2017, and would soon unveil a “new strategic weapon.”

Rep. Kim Min-ki, a two-term lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Party and secretary of the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee, said he received a similar briefing by the NIS.

However, he told the JoongAng Ilbo Monday that Rep. Lee’s statement that it will be impossible for the North to exchange its nuclear program for sanctions relief is “an unreasonable conclusion.”

He added, “The NIS’s view is that North Korea’s position goes beyond the lifting of sanctions, to get a guarantee of an end-of-war declaration and a peace regime in order to advance denuclearization.”

This means that there can be negotiations, Kim believes, if the United States gets rid of its “hostile” policies toward North Korea.

Denuclearization negotiations have been at a standstill since the collapse of a second North-U.S. summit on Feb. 28, 2019.

“The NIS is paying close attention to the possibility of North Korea breaking its moratorium on nuclear or ICBM testing and making shocking threats through real action,” said Lee.

He added that the NIS also mentioned what North Korea’s “new strategic weapon” could be. According to Lee, the NIS said that North Korea could be developing an ICBM capable of carrying a multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV), which enables a missile to deliver multiple nuclear warheads to different targets.

However, an NIS official said, “Rep. Lee asked multiple times about MIRV, so we gave the basic response that it could be one of many possibilities, and we did not actually reply that there is a possibility of the development of MIRV [technology].”

BY SOHN GUK-HEE, SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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