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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

Editorial: Return to “maximum pressure” policy toward North Korea

Was Workers’ Party of Korea Chairman Kim Jong Un’s promise to “denuclearize” fake?


During his visit to North Korea, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded at the high-level talks that the DPRK declare its nuclear programs and capabilities and agree to complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization (CVID), but North Korea reacted strongly, calling the request a “gangster-like demand.”


Pyongyang clearly has no intention to abandon its nuclear and missile capabilities. At the high-level meeting, it proposed a declaration to end the Korean War, the dismantling of an ICBM engine test site, and other matters not directly related to denuclearization. It is simply trying to prolong the negotiations so can it continue to be a nuclear power.


This should be regarded as an extremely serious situation. Unless North Korea accepts CVID, there can be no viable discussions. Then what was the purpose of the U.S.-DPRK summit?


At the Japan-U.S.-ROK foreign ministerial on July 8, Pompeo said that he was able to hold “honest and productive discussions” with North Korea. While Japan and the ROK voiced their support for the U.S., they are probably overoptimistic.


Even though talks with North Korea were unsatisfactory, was not Pompeo just keeping up appearances because President Donald Trump has declared the U.S.-DPRK summit a great success?


While we welcome the fact that the abduction issue was raised at the high-level talks, Pompeo failed to show that concrete progress was made that substantiates his claim of “productive discussions” on the nuclear and missile issues.


In a statement issued by its foreign ministry spokesman, North Korea said it “maintains trust” in Trump. This is an indication of its tactic of praising Trump so that the U.S. lowers its guard and Pyongyang can avoid pressure from the U.S.


By dangling fake denuclearization in front of the U.S., North Korea is probably trying to get it to lift sanctions and give security guarantees. However, this is absolutely unacceptable because a North Korea armed with nuclear weapons and missiles remains a threat.


At one point, North Korea was rattled by the U.S.’s threat to cancel the bilateral summit. Why has it now reverted to being a dishonest negotiator? For sure, the DPRK’s gaining China’s backing is a factor, but more significant is the easing of military pressure with Trump’s unilateral concession of suspending the joint U.S.-ROK exercises.


If this is the case, the attitude to be taken toward North Korea is obvious. There needs to be a return to “maximum” economic and military pressure, both in name and reality.

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