Asia Pacific / Politics

Top adviser to South Korea's Moon unsure of North's willingness to denuclearize

KYODO

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s top security adviser has voiced uncertainty over North Korea’s willingness to give up its nuclear weapons, saying it ultimately depends on whether the United States offers incentives.

“(North Korean leader Kim Jong Un) did really have willingness to denuclearize when I met him at Panmunjeom in April of 2018 and in Pyongyang in September of the same year. But now? I cannot be sure,” Moon Chung-in told reporters at a briefing Friday.

“Whether North Korea gives up on nuclear weapons or not depends on what kind of incentives the United States offers,” he added.

Denuclearization talks between the two countries have been at a stalemate since February 2019, when Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump met in Hanoi but failed to reach an agreement due to the North Korea’s demand that sanctions be lifted.

Inter-Korean relations have also worsened as Pyongyang criticized Seoul for not implementing agreements reached at a series of summits between their leaders in 2018.

It recently cut all lines of communication with the South, followed by the demolition of an inter-Korean liaison office, after South Korean activist groups launched anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the North by balloon.

Moon, in Friday’s briefing, said that North Korea’s recent provocative moves are partly due to disappointment and anger that it feels against current South Korean government for failing to persuade the United States to accept its demands.

On revelations made in former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton’s recently published memoir, Moon said, “Now the situation has become more difficult for denuclearization talks.”

The book, he says, clearly shows U.S. officials maintain the stance that Washington would only give incentives if North Korea first commits to achieve denuclearization.

He doubted whether North Korea would come to the negotiation table with the United States after being made aware of such an atmosphere in Washington.

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