US Ambassador mentions complete list of nuclear facilities before end-of-war declaration

Posted on : 2018-08-03 17:48 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Harry Harris holds first press conference with South Korean reporters
 in Seoul on Aug. 2. (provided by the US Embassy in Seoul)
in Seoul on Aug. 2. (provided by the US Embassy in Seoul)

US Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris said that the Korean War would be officially ended before a peace treaty was signed but cited the need for “demonstrable moves toward denuclearization before we can entertain something like the end-of-war declaration.”

Harris made his remarks about the declaration during a press conference at his residence in the Jeong neighborhood of downtown Seoul on Aug. 2, his first press conference since assuming his duties as ambassador on July 7. When asked what North Korea needed to show specifically before the declaration could be made, Harris mentioned a list of North Korea’s nuclear facilities.

“The central and fundamental step that North Korea could take down the path toward confidence-building is providing a complete list of nuclear facilities. That would be a great start, but [the US] has yet to receive that [list],” Harris said. He emphasized that the US was seeking “North Korea’s final and fully verified denuclearization.”

 the Habib House
the Habib House

In regard to media reports about North Korea’s partial shutdown of its missile testing site at Tongchang Village, Harris pointed out that no foreign reporters or experts had been present for the shutdown and said that the US needed to verify what the North claimed it had done.

Harris said that declaring the end of the war was a decision that should be not taken lightly because it would be “irrevocable.” “If we took the irrevocable step [of declaring the end of the war] and then [North Korea and the US] failed in the negotiations, the North stands to benefit. Once you’ve made that declaration, there’s no going back. I think that South Korea and the US need to be very careful about taking irreversible steps in this initial stage such as declaring the end of the war or signing a peace treaty,” he said.

No clear stance on China’s participation

Harris declined to comment on China’s participation in an end-of-the-war declaration. “We appreciate China’s support for the UN sanctions. We are also in agreement with China about the need for North Korea’s denuclearization. China is our partner country,” he said.

US Ambassador to South Korean Harry Harris answers questions from journalists at his official residence
US Ambassador to South Korean Harry Harris answers questions from journalists at his official residence

Harris also forcefully rebutted criticism from the US press and experts that the North Korea-US denuclearization talks have been going slowly since the North Korea-US summit in Singapore on June 12: “I can’t agree with the argument that the denuclearization talks are in a deadlock.” Since only seven weeks or so have passed since the summit and the announcement of the joint statement, Harris said, people shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions.

“Before June 12, we hadn’t moved forward with denuclearization, and [North Korea-US] relations were in a very different position. Of course, we weren’t on the verge of war, but that was a possibility back then. But now we’ve reached a position where we can think about peace,” Harris said.

Harris offered a positive assessment of South and North Korea’s work to repair and renovate the facilities for the reunions of the divided families and to set up a military hotline, which he said were “measures by which South and North Korea can benefit each other in a meaningful way and reduce tensions.” But Harris was implicitly critical of inter-Korean economic cooperation, such as reopening the Kaesong Industrial Complex or tours to Mt. Kumgang, saying that he hoped these would move forward in tandem with North Korea’s denuclearization and inter-Korean dialogue.

By Noh Ji-won, staff reporter

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