Talk of possible nuclear negotiations between North Korea and the US, with Russia offering to mediate, once again raises a possibility of the North Korean nuclear disarmament, a high-profile US goal.
North Korea’s state media, however, sought to downplay the chance of that, saying that the priority remains on “bolstering the capabilities for self-defense and preemptive attacks with nuclear force” against the US.
While the US has sought to downplay North Korea’s capabilities, North Korean officials have sought to emphasize their nuclear capability, and to insist that they are prepared to use it defensively in the event of a US first-strike.
The new report made it clear that North Korea would not consider nuclear disarmament unless the United States stopped its “blackmail and war drills” along their frontier. US officials have repeatedly ruled out halting war games with South Korea, presenting them as necessary to reassure American allies in the region.
The problem is, such war games are virtually entirely offensive in nature, preparing to attack North Korea, or raid and seize their nuclear arsenal, or just conquer them outright and assassinate their leadership. These aren’t the sort of thing North Korea is likely to be willing to live with without having a deterrent capability.