North Korea says war’s end can’t be bargaining chip for denuclearisation

FILE PHOTO: North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a New Year's Day speech in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on January 1, 2018. KCNA/via REUTERS/File photo

SEOUL: North Korea said on Tuesday that declaring the end of the 1950-53 Korean War “can never be a bargaining chip” for getting North Korea denuclearised, and said the country “will not particularly hope for it” if the United States does not want the end of war, according to state media KCNA.

In a joint statement with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in their Pyongyang summit last month, North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un expressed a willingness to “permanently dismantle” the Yongbyon nuclear complex if the United States takes corresponding action.

Moon said this would include a declaration of an official end to the war.

In a commentary, KCNA said on Tuesday that declaring the war’s end should have “been resolved half a century ago,” and called it “the most basic and primary process for the establishment of new DPRK-US relations and peace” on the Korean peninsula “to which the US was also committed,” , referring to North Korea by its official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

At their unprecedented summit in June, US President Donald Trump and Kim agreed in broad terms to “build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.”

However, Washington wants North Korea to first provide a complete inventory of its weapons programs and take irreversible steps to give up its arsenal.

KCNA said the Yongbyon nuclear facility, which the North expressed a willingness to take offline if the United States takes corresponding action, “is a core one for its nuclear program.”

“The DPRK is taking substantial and crucial steps to implement the joint statement made at the DPRK-US summit, but the US is still trying to subdue someone by resorting to sanctions,” the unnamed commentary accused.

However, three senior US officials involved in North Korea policy previously told Reuters that no progress has been made in moving toward serious negotiations on eliminating or even halting Kim’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Dismantling Yongbyon would slow the production of fissile material, but not reduce the current stockpile of plutonium and highly enriched uranium, nor clear suspicions of other secret production sites, an expert previously told Reuters.