2nd N. Korea-US summit expected to focus on Yongbyon facility shutdown and corresponding measures

Posted on : 2019-02-01 18:27 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Sanctions likely to remain in place, although humanitarian exchange and aid is probable
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump

The second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump, scheduled for the end of February, is expected to primarily deal with shutting down North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear facility and with corresponding measures by the US as part of fleshing out the joint statement signed by the two leaders in their Singapore summit on June 12, 2018, according to a high-ranking official at South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The question of building a peace regime is also expected to receive considerable attention.

“The US also places considerable significance” on North Korea’s conditional offer to shut down the Yongbyon reactor, a senior official at the Foreign Ministry who is familiar with the North Korea-US negotiations said during a meeting with reporters on Jan. 31. “Since this idea was brought up by North Korea, the discussion will focus on Yongbyon and then move on to other topics.”

During the inter-Korean Pyongyang Joint Statement in Sept. 2018, North Korea expressed its willingness to permanently close the Yongbyon nuclear facility presuming that the US takes corresponding measures, but some have argued that the Yongbyon facility is so old that closing it would have little value.

The official added that the South Korea and US governments think that “since the Yongbyon nuclear facility has been the foundation and the center of North Korea’s whole nuclear program for such a long time, shutting it down would represent very important progress toward complete denuclearization.”

In regard to how the US would reward North Korea for closing the Yongbyon nuclear facility, the official said, “I think they’ll take quite a few measures, but it’s still too early to draw any conclusions about [easing] the sanctions.” The official also said that “the US still holds a firm position on sanctions.”

At the same time, he predicted that the US could offer corresponding measures in the framework of the Joint Statement produced during the Six-Party Talks on Sept. 19, 2005, including humanitarian aid, the establishment of a liaison office, an end-of-war declaration and humanitarian exchange. In the Joint Statement, the parties concerned agreed that North Korea would be “provided economic, energy and humanitarian aid worth 1 million tons of heavy oil, including 50,000 tons of heavy oil” in exchange for North Korea providing a complete inventory of its nuclear arsenal and neutralizing its graphite-moderated reactor and reprocessing facilities.

Kaesong Industrial Complex and tourism to Mt. Kumgang not among US’ potential measures

When asked if resuming operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex and tourism to Mt. Kumgang were among the US’ potential measures, the official said the US remained critical of the idea and that Trump and Kim would not be discussing it during their summit.

In order to make North Korea give up its nuclear weapons, this official said, it would be necessary to either improve North Korea-US relations or provide the Pyongyang regime with a security guarantee and also to guarantee an improvement in the North Korean

people’s standard of living. “Both of those steps require a peace regime,” the official emphasized. North Korea is likely to stress the issue of building a peace regime during this summit.

By Kim Ji-eun, staff reporter

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