President Moon offers methodology for the denuclearization of North Korea

Posted on : 2018-02-28 17:15 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
“Building trust” with North Koreans is viewed as the current priority
Kim Yong-chol
Kim Yong-chol

President Moon Jae-in’s “denuclearization methodology” as reported back to North Korea on Feb. 27 by Workers’ Party Central Committee vice chairman Kim Yong-chol is becoming the focus of attention. The Blue House remained quiet on the specifics of Moon’s denuclearization methodology as relayed to Kim.

“Our position is that of mediator [for North Korea-US dialogue], so we are aware of both sides’ positions to some extent, but the most important thing is building trust with our dialogue partners in the North,” a key Blue House official told reporters.

“I think it was less [Moon] naming a specific methodology than trading views on the things that might be done to soften the mood somewhat [between North Korea and the US],” the official added.

The day before, the Blue House had stated that Moon “not only talked to Kim’s delegation simply and directly [during their Feb. 25 meeting] about how North Korea needed to denuclearize, but also suggested a methodology in terms of what approach it should adopt.”

“While denuclearization is a long process and the endpoint is irreversible abandonment [of nuclear capabilities], there may be any number of points of entry,” the statement added.

As a presidential candidate, Moon suggested a two-stage approach of freezing and abandonment as a methodology for the North’s denuclearization. It was an approach that put a freeze at the start of negotiations toward denuclearization and denuclearization as an “exit point” at their final stage. It was the same approach used in the past for the Six-Party Talks to resolve the nuclear issue.

But many close to the Blue House are speculating that Moon may have mentioned an approach of finding a “point of entry” toward denuclearization dialogue, rather than simply reiterating the two-stage denuclearization plan from his election campaign to Kim. Analysts suggested he may have talked about methods for showing the minimal changes on the nuclear and missile issues that would be likely to raise Washington’s interest.

“As suggestions, President Moon may have mentioned a pause on nuclear and missile testing rather than a complete halt and a downscaling of South Korea-US joint military exercises rather than a postponement,” former Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun said in a telephone interview.

Other observers speculated Moon may have proposed reversing the order of the corresponding measures at the entry and exit points for talks. With North Korea having already achieved advancement of its nuclear and missile capabilities, his approach may have been to place peace regime discussions – previously a corresponding measure at the denuclearization stage – at the beginning of negotiations. By substantially widening the entrance to denuclearization discussions, the observers suggested, Moon may be able to generate more momentum leading toward their exit point.

By Seong Yeon-cheol and Jung In-hwan, staff reporters

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