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Senior USG official stresses sanctions on DPRK to remain in place

  • March 9, 2019
  • , All national papers , NHK
  • JMH Summary

The Saturday morning editions of Asahi, Sankei, and Yomiuri, as well as NHK, took up a press briefing in Tokyo on Friday by an unnamed senior Trump administration official, who reportedly underscored that the economic sanctions on North Korea will be maintained until it has completely denuclearized. “North Korea should not expect sanctions relief before we achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea,” the official said. The official also indicated that Washington does not support the resumption of inter-Korean economic cooperation, such as the reopening of the Kaesong Industrial Park, at this stage by saying: “I think it would be very, very premature to discuss the resumption of activities” at such sites in the absence of final, fully verified denuclearization. The official added that reopening the facility would probably be in violation of Security Council resolutions. According to Asahi, the official also defended President Trump’s decision not to sign a nuclear deal with Kim Jong Un at the Hanoi Summit, noting that if such an agreement had been sealed, the U.S would find itself “in a position of accepting an increase in North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and worse than that, we would be in a position of funding it by allowing economic activity to resume that would provide an infusion of billions of dollars of cash to the North Korean regime.” 


With regard to the abduction issue, Sankei reported that the official said the United States has a “very strong commitment to helping secure” the victims. On Prime Minister Abe’s willingness to meet with Chairman Kim to resolve the matter, the official said: “We think that there could be a real benefit in an engagement at the highest level between Japan and North Korea.” Asked about the possibility of withdrawing U.S. troops from South Korea, the official said: “The question of troops is not something that was even discussed in this summit, nor has it been discussed in working level meetings between the United States and North Korea.”


In a related story, Saturday morning’s Asahi wrote that an unnamed high-ranking State Department official told the press on Thursday that nobody in the U.S. administration advocates a step-by-step approach toward North Korea’s denuclearization. The daily conjectured that this comment, coupled with the aforementioned remarks made in Tokyo by an unnamed senior USG official, signifies that Washington’s North Korea policy now revolves around the “big deal” being pursued by President Trump, who has insisted that the Kim regime will only be able to obtain substantial sanctions relief in exchange for complete denuclearization. 


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