N.Korean issue sliding back to square one - GulfToday

N.Korean issue sliding back to square one

Kim Jong Un

A sudden trading of charges between Washington and Pyongyang raises serious questions about which direction the dialogue process is heading.

Talks over the future of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile arsenals remain stalled despite two years of efforts and three unprecedented meetings between leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump.

Pyongyang, which has set a year-end deadline for Washington to change its policies, has repeatedly cautioned that Kim Jong Un may embark on a “new path”.

On Saturday, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations said denuclearisation was now off the negotiating table with the United States and lengthy talks with Washington are not needed.

A sudden trading of charges between Washington and Pyongyang raises serious questions about which direction the dialogue process is heading.

Trump insists that Kim Jong Un risks losing “everything” if he resumes hostility and his country must denuclearise, after the North said it had carried out a “successful test of great significance.”

“Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way. He signed a strong denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore,” Trump stated on Twitter, referring to his first summit with Kim in Singapore in 2018. “He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the US Presidential Election in November.”

North Korea, apparently, is not pleased.

A senior North Korean official, former nuclear negotiator Kim Yong Chol, has asserted that his country would not cave in to US pressure because it has nothing to lose.

The Trump administration has been accused of attempting to buy time ahead of an end-of-year deadline set by Kim Jong Un for Washington to salvage nuclear talks.

Tough words are back in vogue.

Kim Yong Chol says Trump’s tweets clearly show that he is an irritated old man bereft of patience. “As (Trump) is such a heedless and erratic old man, the time when we cannot but call him a ‘dotard’ again may come,” Kim Yong Chol said.

“Trump has too many things that he does not know about (North Korea). We have nothing more to lose. Though the US may take away anything more from us, it can never remove the strong sense of self-respect, might and resentment against the US from us.”

It may be recalled that nuclear negotiations faltered after a February meeting between Trump and Kim in Vietnam broke down when the US side rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.

Trump and Kim met for a third time in June at the border between the two Koreas and agreed to resume talks. But an October working-level meeting in Sweden broke down over what the North Koreans described as the Americans’ “old stance and attitude.”

Kim Yong Chol’s statement came days after North Korea’s first vice foreign minister, Choe Sun Hui, issued a similar threat to resume insulting Trump after he spoke during a NATO summit in London of possible military action towards the North.

The nuclear issue is too serious to be lost in the din of allegations and counter-allegations.

Satellite imagery indicated on Monday that North Korea had tested a rocket engine. Things are clearly not heading in the right direction. Confrontation cannot be the way forward. Both sides should find common ground and give diplomacy more time.

The fundamental goal of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula should be achieved.