A group of high-level South Korean diplomats traveled to North Korea for a dinner with Kim Jong-un on Monday. That, in and of itself, was a diplomatic breakthrough because the Kim hadn’t personally met with South Korean officials since he took power in 2011. Yet the sanctions on North Korea, along with a hefty dose of post-Olympic good will, may have worked some magic. South Korea now reveals that not only is Kim “willing” to talk with the U.S., but they’re also open to discuss abandoning their nuclear program.
This, of course, was the ultimate goal from South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who wished to broker such a diplomatic solution. The Associated Press reported that these talks resulted in North Korea admitting that it “has no reason to possess nuclear weapons” if it can guarantee its own safety. The New York Times follows up with a more detailed statement from President Moon:
“[North Korea] clearly stated its willingness to denuclearize. It made it clear that it would have no reason to keep nuclear weapons if the military threat to the North was eliminated and its security guaranteed. The North expressed its willingness to hold a heartfelt dialogue with the United States on the issues of denuclearization and normalizing relations with the United States. It made it clear that while dialogue is continuing, it will not attempt any strategic provocations, such as nuclear and ballistic missile tests.”
These sentiments are said to have come directly from Kim Jong-un, but it’s notable that North Korea has yet to officially corroborate said willingness to drop the nukes. Perhaps state media will also issue a statement, but for now, it’s possible that Kim might backtrack. After all, it’s only been a few months since his regime was conducting nuclear and/or missile tests a few times per month, and last fall, North Korea reportedly launched a long-range missile that’s capable of reaching Washington, D.C. Is Kim really going to leave the Cold War rhetoric to Vladimir Putin alone?
In very related news, there’s been some followup to President Trump’s bizarre claim that North Korea “called up” and “would like to talk.” It was a statement that few took seriously, and the White House finally commented on the matter by telling South Korean news agency Yonhap that Trump was mistaken, and the call was actually between Trump and South Korean President Moon. “President Trump did not have a call with the North Koreans,” the National Security Council official further stressed. Enough said.