Pyongyang apparently has a big demand for the U.S. if the latter wants to keep talking about North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.
North Korea expects the U.S. to make a “bold move” and sign a peace treaty officially ending the Korean War before denuclearization talks can continue, a source with close knowledge of North Korea’s position on this matter told CNN. The possibility of a permanent peace mechanism to finally end the war was included in both the Panmunjom Declaration signed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in the inter-Korean summit and the agreement signed by Kim and President Donald Trump in Singapore.
“The United States and DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula,” the Singapore agreement read. A binding treaty to end the Korean War, which was resolved with an armistice agreement, would likely require extensive negotiations with multiple countries, as well as the approval of two-thirds of the U.S. Senate.
North Korea reportedly believes it has made sufficient concessions — namely its freeze on weapons testing, the destruction of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, and the imminent return of the remains of U.S. war dead — to warrant the start of talks on a peace treaty.
After an problematic meeting in Pyongyang involving Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a team of North Korean officials, the North criticized the U.S. for making unilateral demands of North Korea while ignoring Pyongyang’s expectations, with a peace treaty being high on the country’s list of demands.
“The U.S. side never mentioned the issue of establishing a peace regime on the Korean peninsula which is essential for defusing tension and preventing a war,” the North Korean foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in early July. “Announcing the declaration of the end of war at an early date is the first process of defusing tension and establishing a lasting peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, and, at the same time, it constitutes a first factor in creating trust between the DPRK and the U.S.” (RELATED: North Korean Foreign Ministry Says Talks With Pompeo ‘Regrettable’)
North Korea is also pressing South Korea on its commitments to end the Korean War.
“Given that the South Korean government also has an obligation to carry out what was agreed upon in the Panmunjom Declaration, it should not sit idle on the issue of declaring an end to the war,” Uriminzokkiri, the North’s external propaganda website, argued Monday. “It is a historic task that cannot be delayed anymore to build solid peace regime by ending the current abnormal state of armistice on the Korean Peninsula,” the statement explained, paraphrasing the landmark Panmunjom Declaration signed in April.
After talks between the U.S. and North Korea hit a speed bump earlier this month, the North Korean foreign ministry signaled that it may halt negotiations pertaining to its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development programs. “We may be shaken in our unshakable will for denuclearization,” Pyongyang said in its critical statement.
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