In comments that could potentially have significant ramifications on trying to convince the US to join talks with North Korea, South Korean delegation envoys say they were told by Kim Jong-un that North Korea is willing to discuss scrapping their nuclear arsenal.
The White House has long suggested scrapping the nuclear program and missile development as a precondition for talks, and clearly that’s not going to happen, but North Korea seems very willing to discuss the subject within the talks, and would disarm if given the right deal.
South Korea’s statement quoted Kim as making it clear North Korea “would have no reason to keep nuclear weapons if the military threat to the North was eliminated.” North Korean officials have made comments to this effect in the past, but telling it to the South Korean delegation shows its a clear message intended to be sent to the US as an inducement to talk.
This makes sense, as North Korea has always presented its nuclear arsenal as a deterrent to an American attack. Getting a trustworthy guarantee that the US isn’t going to attack them in the future is clearly a big deal for North Korea, but is it attainable?
That’s less clear, with President Trump and other administration officials saying there is “possible progress,” but also downplaying the chances of an actual deal, suggesting they don’t believe North Korea would deliver on such a proposal.
One unnamed administration official seemed to take the position that this wouldn’t be enough for talks, saying denuclearization of North Korea in “non-negotiable,” suggesting it remains a precondition.