North Korea says peace treaty no bargaining chip for denuclearisation

Agence France-Presse
North Korea says peace treaty no bargaining chip for denuclearisation
This undated picture and released by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) via KNS on September 29, 2018 shows North Korea leader Kim Jong-un attending a photo session with teachers and researchers of Kim Chaek University of Technology in Pyongyang.

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Tuesday ruled out dismantling its nuclear arsenal in exchange for the US declaring an end to the Korean War, saying a peace treaty should "never be a bargaining chip."

The North has for decades demanded that the US formally declare the end of the 1950-53 conflict that was halted only with an armistice, saying an official end to the war would ease tensions on the flashpoint peninsula.

At a summit with the South's President Moon Jae-in last month, the North's leader Kim Jong Un offered to shut down its main Yongbyon nuclear complex if Washington takes "corresponding measures".

Kim did not elaborate on what those measure might be, but state news agency KCNA said in a commentary that some US experts have suggested trading the end of the war for denuclearisation.

It flatly described that as only the "most basic... process" to restore ties, not a point for negotiation.  

"The end of war... is not just a gift from a man to another at all. Furthermore, it can never be a bargaining chip for getting the DPRK denuclearised," it said, using the North's full name. 

KCNA said that Pyongyang was willing to take "such... steps as eternal dismantlement" of its nuclear complex "if the US takes a corresponding measure" but again did not elaborate.

Cho Sung-ryul, analyst at the Institute of National Security Strategy, said the commentary may be aimed at limiting Washington's room for manoeuvre.

"The North is trying to reduce the negotiating value of Washington's potential offer of a peace treaty, by suggesting that 'it's not good enough to make us denuclearise'," he told South Korea's news agency Yonhap. 

A landmark summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in June led to a warming of ties, but there has been little concrete progress toward denuclearisation.

The North's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho also told the UN last month that there was "no way" his country would disarm first as long as the US pushes for tough enforcement of sanctions against Pyongyang. 

Trump however lauded Kim, saying last week the pair had fallen "in love" -- their bromance fuelled by "beautiful letters" he recently received from the young leader. 

The ceasefire that halted the bloody conflict that sealed the division of the Korean peninsula was signed by the North, its military ally China and the US -- which fought on the side of the South. 

The South did not take part as its then-leader refused to end the war unless the whole peninsula was unified. 

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 5, 2023 - 1:39pm

South Korean officials were briefing the White House Thursday on the outcome of their pathfinding meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Seoul has already publicized that North Korea offered talks with the United States on denuclearization and normalizing ties, a potential diplomatic opening after a year of escalating tensions over the North's nuclear and missile tests. The rival Koreas also agreed to hold a leadership summit in late April.

Top Trump administration officials were getting a chance to hear firsthand from South Korean national security director, Chung Eui-yong, who led the delegation that went to Pyongyang. — Associated Press

October 5, 2023 - 1:39pm

South Korea's defense ministry says Thursday it was "closely monitoring" a North Korean nuclear reactor site after local media reported its operations had been temporarily suspended, potentially to extract weapons-grade plutonium.

The Donga Ilbo newspaper reports earlier in the day that intelligence sources in Seoul and Washington had detected signs the five-megawatt reactor in Yongbyon had temporarily stopped operations late last month.

The suspension could be an indication that spent fuel rods are being reprocessed to extract plutonium for use in nuclear weapons, the report cited a government source as saying. — AFP

September 28, 2023 - 8:53am

State media reports that North Korea's rubber-stamp legislature has enshrined the country's status as a nuclear weapons power in the constitution.

"The DPRK's nuclear force-building policy has been made permanent as the basic law of the state, which no one is allowed to flout with anything," leader Kim Jong Un said at a meeting of the State People's Assembly that was held Tuesday and Wednesday, the KCNA news agency says. 

DPRK is the acronym for the country's formal name. — AFP

September 8, 2023 - 11:15am

State news agency KCNA reports that North Korea announced it had built a "tactical nuclear attack submarine" as part of its effort to strengthen its naval force.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presided over the unveiling ceremony on Wednesday, saying the new sub was part of a "push forward with the nuclear weaponization of the Navy in the future", according to KCNA.

The launching of submarine No. 841, named the Hero Kim Kun Ok, "heralded the beginning of a new chapter for bolstering up the naval force of the DPRK", the KCNA report said, referring to the country by the abbreviation of its formal name. — AFP

September 3, 2023 - 10:46am

State-controlled media reports Sunday that North Korea staged a "simulated tactical nuclear attack" drill at the weekend with mock atomic warheads attached to two long-range cruise missiles that were test-fired into the ocean.

The Korean Central News Agency says the operation early Saturday was a "counteraction drill" in response to joint military activity by US and South Korean forces that KCNA said has escalated tensions in the region.

"A firing drill for simulated tactical nuclear attack was conducted at dawn of September 2 to warn the enemies of the actual nuclear war danger," KCNA reports. — AFP

September 2, 2023 - 1:19pm

Seoul's military says North Korea fired multiple cruise missiles off its west coast on Saturday, the latest in a string of recent Pyongyang military actions. 

The launches come three days after the North launched a pair of short-range ballistic missiles as part of a "tactical nuclear strike drill" prompted by the annual US-South Korean Ulchi Freedom Shield military exercises, which always infuriate the reclusive regime.   

Pyongyang views such the drills as a rehearsal for invasion while the two allies say they are defensive in nature. — AFP

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