6 March 2018
North Korea says it’s willing to give up its nuclear weapons
By Yaron Steinbuch/ Ny Post
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has expressed a willingness to begin nuclear disarmament talks with the US — and halt nuclear and missile tests during negotiations, a South Korean official said Tuesday.
Kim also agreed to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a late April summit in the border village of Panmunjom, South Korean national security chief Chung Eui Yong said after discussions in Pyongyang.
“North Korea made clear its willingness to denuclearize the Korean peninsula and the fact there is no reason for it to have a nuclear program if military threats against the North are resolved and its regime is secure,” Chung said.
According to Chung, Kim agreed not to carry out nuclear or missile tests while talks with the international community were under way. The rogue regime has not carried out any such tests since November.
“The North also said it can have frank talks with the United States on denuclearization and the normalization of ties between North Korea and the United States,” Chung added.
President Trump reacted cautiously to the overture on Twitter.
“Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea,” the president wrote Tuesday morning. “For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!”
Vice President Mike Pence said Washington would not change its stance toward the hermit kingdom without evidence of credible, verifiable and specific steps toward denuclearization.
Meanwhile, a skeptical director of national intelligence expressed his pessimism during a Senate hearing Tuesday.
“Maybe this is a breakthrough. I seriously doubt it,” said Dan Coats, who described his doubts as grounded in what he called failed efforts by previous US administrations to negotiate with the North.
Coats said Kim is “very calculating” and views his nuclear capabilities as “essential to his well-being as well as the well-being of his nation.”
The high-level South Korean delegation that visited Pyongyang this week was the first to meet Kim since he took power after his dictator dad’s death in late 2011.
The North’s offer might be an attempt to win concessions as its economy buckles under the weight of sanctions, some analysts said, or a way to buy time to better develop nukes aimed at the US mainland.
Kim also said he “understands” that next month’s annual military drills by the US and South Korea will be at a scale similar to previous years – but expressed hope they could eventually be modified, a senior South Korean official said on condition of anonymity.
Since taking office over a year ago, Trump has adopted a policy of “maximum pressure” on the North, ramping up international sanctions to limit the country’s trade.
The president, who hasn’t ruled out military action, also has engaged in a war of words with the diminutive despot – calling him “Little Rocket Man” and boasting about the size of his nuclear button.
Kim fired back by calling Trump a “mentally deranged US dotard.”