By Ryan Pickrell
North Korea has no interest in negotiating with the U.S. or its allies and remains committed to the development of weapons of mass destruction, despite increasing international pressure on the regime.
After the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a new punitive resolution imposing the toughest sanctions in a generation on North Korea, America’s top diplomat urged Pyongyang to put down its missiles and come to the negotiating table.
“The best signal that North Korea could give us that they’re prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at a security forum in Asia. “We’ve not had any extended period of time where they have not taken some type of provocative action by launching ballistic missiles. I think that would be the first and strongest signal they could send to us, would be to stop these missile launches.”
North Korea has launched almost a collection of new short-, medium-, intermediate-, and long-range missiles this year, advancing the country’s missile program. The country’s new intercontinental ballistic missile is believed to be capable of delivering a nuclear payload to cities and towns across the continental U.S.
There is little indication the North intends to halt its missile tests.
North Korea is developing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons for self-defense “in the face of a clear and real nuclear threat posed by the U.S.,” North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said in a written memo on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations regional security forum in the Philippines. He stressed that “under no circumstances” would North Korea negotiate away its weapons program.
“There is nothing the U.S. or South Korea can offer,” Bruce Klingner, the former chief of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Korea branch and now a senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. He explained that when he met with North Korean officials recently, they “affirmed that de-nuclearization is totally off the table.”
North Korea has also rejected talks with South Korea, arguing that the overtures of its southern neighbor are disingenuous.
South Korea’s call for talks are “insincere” because the South is collaborating with the U.S. to pressure the North, according to North Korean officials. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha spoke briefly with her North Korean counterpart, Ri, in Manila, but the latter dismissed the possibility of inter-Korea discussions for the time being.
As both the Trump administration and the new South Korean government under the leadership of President Moon Jae-in have pinned their hopes on diplomacy, the inability to negotiate with Pyongyang creates a dangerous situation. Tensions are escalating with no outlet for the alleviation of mounting pressure, which increases the risk of a military crisis on the peninsula. For the time being, though, both the U.S. and its allies in South Korea are hesitant to apply military force to this issue.
“He cannot accept the tragedy of war repeating on the Korean Peninsula,” presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said of Moon in a briefing. His comment reflects those of U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who warned that a conflict in Korea would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale.”
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