North Korea criticized for mutual disarmament talks
North Korea proposed for mutual disarmament talks.
On Thursday, it said the focus of any future talks should no longer be on the North alone, but on regional disarmament by all parties involved.
Mr Hill, the chief US negotiator said that if the North Koreans wanted to make “sarcastic” statements, they should come back to the talks and make them there, and not put out what he called “silly” press statements.
A North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday that Pyongyang had only felt compelled to build its own arsenal because of the threat from the US.
“The US keeps many tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea on a permanent basis. And it is ceaselessly shipping nuclear strike means there,” the spokesman said.
“The US claims that if the DPRK [North Korea] dismantles its nuclear weapons first, it will be given ‘collective assurances for security’ and get a ‘benefit’. This is, however, nothing but a gangster-like logic urging the DPRK to disarm itself and yield to the US domination.”
He added that because Pyongyang now possessed nuclear weapons, rather than just the means to make them, the talks’ emphasis should change.
“Now that the DPRK has become a full-fledged nuclear weapons state, the six-party talks should be disarmament talks where the participating countries negotiate the issue on an equal footing,” he said.
Since 2002, three rounds of discussions involving the US, Russia, the two Koreas, Japan and China have sought to ease tensions on the peninsula, with little success.
In February, North Korea said it was pulling out of the process, claiming it was furious that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had branded it an “outpost of tyranny”.
If the six-party talks collapse, the U.S. is likely to take the dispute to the U.N. Security Council immediately, where it was already on the table once in 2003. At the time, Washington pushed for a chairman’s statement denouncing Pyongyang, but the attempt floundered on Chinese opposition. If the U.S. again takes the matter to the Council, China will play the role of the largest variable. If Beijing agrees to sanctions, North Korea will have to choose between international isolation or dismantling its program.
But the U.S. and Japan can impose sanctions on the North even if China opposes them. Japan has already implemented its own punitive measures such as effectively banning North Korean vessels from Japanese ports. In cooperation with Japan and Australia, the U.S. may also take steps such as beef up maritime patrols off North Korea and seize North Korean ships.
But military or economic sanctions against Pyongyang will not be instantaneous. “The UNSC has never taken military action,” a South Korean official said. “Backed by the international community, it will simply put pressure on the North.
Another senior South Korean official dismissed Pyongyang’s new statement simply as an attempt to improve its bargaining position. “Our stance is clear: Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and a return by the North to the six-party talks as soon as possible,” said the official.
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