Magazine article Arms Control Today

North Korea Douses Hope for New Talks

Magazine article Arms Control Today

North Korea Douses Hope for New Talks

Article excerpt

Negotiations between the United States and North Korea are unlikely to resume in 2020 absent a shift in the U.S. approach, according to multiple Pyongyang officials. "If the U.S. persists such hostile policy toward the DPRK...there will never be a denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," said North Korean diplomat Ju Yong Chol at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Jan. 21.

Although he did not define "hostile policy" at the meeting, North Korean condemnation of U.S.-imposed stringent economic sanctions and the conduct of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises have headlined many North Korean statements.

Ju also said that Pyongyang may no longer observe its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing put in place in April 2018 to "build confidence with the United States." He said Pyongyang has "no reason to be unilaterally bound" by its commitment, given that Washington "remains unchanged in its ambition to block the development" of North Korea. His remarks closely echoed those of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the December 2019 plenary meeting of the 7 th Central Committee of the Worker's Party of Korea, where Kim first announced Pyongyang's shifted attitude toward talks with Washington. (See ACT, January/February 2020.)

Despite the North Korean rhetoric, the United States remains "cautiously optimistic" about North Korea's bargaining position, U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien told Axios on Jan. 12. Washington has "reached out to the North Koreans and let them know that we would like to continue the negotiations," he added. …

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