North Korea wanted to talk denuclearization in 1992, ex-U.S. government official says

WASHINGTON, July 15 (UPI) — A former U.S. government official who negotiated with North Korea in the Clinton administration says Pyongyang raised the possibility of denuclearization last week – but that the statement may have been ignored in Washington.

Robert Carlin, a visiting scholar at Stanford University, wrote on 38 North, a Johns Hopkins University website dedicated to North Korea issues, that Pyongyang placed the ball in motion to restart talks on denuclearization.

“[The] statement made clear what the North Koreans have been hinting at for some time – yes, they were willing to talk about denuclearization,” Carlin wrote in the article published on Tuesday.

The analyst was referring to a statement issued on July 6 on KCNA that included five proposed requirements that could lead to the termination of its nuclear weapons program.

“If the United States and South Korea authorities take the slightest interest in the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula our principled requirements must be accepted,” the statement on KCNA read.

According to Carlin, Pyongyang is transitioning toward defining denuclearization in terms that “potentially brings the discussion back down to earth, reintroducing concepts both Seoul and Washington had previously accepted” in 1992.

The North Korean statement issued last week claimed the United States has nuclear weapons in South Korea, which invited a response from Seoul dismissing the claim as an attempt to mislead and undermine national security, South Korean newspaper Kyunghyang Shinmun reported.

But Carlin said North Korea also intended to define denuclearization as a task for both sides on the peninsula.

“For Pyongyang that definition provides a better, more realistic, more salable, and more defensible starting point – that is, if there is to be “denuclearization,” it will pertain very specifically to the Korean peninsula,” Carlin wrote, adding the term denuclearization is an “accordion” that will end up being “expanded or contracted” during potential negotiations.

“The key point now is that someone in Pyongyang has apparently decided that the North’s approach over the past several years has not given it the flexibility it needed to deal with the issue, whereas a more realistic concept, based on ground already plowed, might do that,” the analyst said.

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