North Korea’s brinkmanship with the United States will not work and it will have to dismantle its nuclear development program due to its heavy dependence on outside energy and food, South Korea’s Unification Minister Jeong Se Hyun said Friday.

Jeong, in Tokyo for a two-day visit, told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan the situation is different from 1994, when Pyongyang was promised by the U.S. that it would get two light-water nuclear reactors and fuel oil in exchange for giving up its nuclear arms program.

“Now, they cannot use brinkmanship.

“There is a different administration in the United States,” Jeong said, adding the North depends on outside assistance for 30 percent of its food supply, and 50 percent of its fuel oil, which comes mainly through the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization.

KEDO was created following the 1994 bilateral accord as an implementation body to build the reactors and supply fuel oil.

“North Korea must understand that they have nothing to gain by threatening the international community with nuclear weapons, nor would it help to resolve their economic problem,” Jeong said. “They must understand this, and they will come to understand this.”

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday slammed KEDO’s decision earlier this month to suspend fuel oil shipments from December, claiming it is a violation of the 1994 accord.

But Jeong said the statement was simply a bluff and that he believes the 1994 accord is still valid.

“I don’t believe this means the end of the Agreed Framework,” he said. “The commentary from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry is very reserved . . . this is an ongoing psychological battle” between Washington and Pyongyang.

Jeong said it is “too early” to conclude KEDO’s decision as an economic sanction, because it still leaves room for the North to respond to international calls before the oil supply is actually stopped next month.

South Korea, hesitant about taking a hardline stance against the North in the hope of eventual unification, wants to avoid suspending the oil supply, while the U.S. is taking a tough stance and Japan has remained neutral.

In talks with Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi later in the day, Jeong thanked Japan for supporting South Korea’s stance on the issue so far, officials reported.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.