A top U.S. diplomat said today that Washington and its allies are finalizing a "comprehensive" set of incentives that North Korea could receive for making "irreversible" moves on dismantling its nuclear program, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, July 17).
Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told South Korean reporters about the coming offer, which was confirmed by the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. Campbell was in the city to meet with South Korean nuclear negotiator Wi Sung-lac.
Campbell did not reveal any details on the proposal, but said Pyongyang should find it "attractive" (Agence France-Presse I/Spacewar.com, July 20).
Campbell said the United States intends to enforce the U.N. sanctions it helped establish last month until Pyongyang commits to ending its controversial nuclear and missile programs, AFP reported.
"What we are trying to do is follow a two-track strategy," he said, according to the Yonhap News Agency. "Under the right circumstances, we'd be prepared to sit down with North Korea if they would abandon their nuclear ambitions. We're in the process of discussions with our partners about what are the next steps associated with diplomacy."
Campbell said North Korea would be wise to resume negotiations on its nuclear program, given its domestic troubles and the effect of international sanctions over the long term. Pyongyang walked away from six-nation talks after being criticized at the United Nations for an April rocket launch that was widely viewed as a test of long-range missile technology.
"Truth of the matter is, down this path North Korea has chosen lie greater tensions, greater hardships for its people, more isolation and lack of engagement in international economy," he said. "I think it's unsustainable, and we believe that over time, North Korea will ultimately choose to re-engage" (Agence France-Presse II/Spacewar.com, July 18).
The U.S. diplomat emphasized that enforcing the sanctions is crucial to deterring the North from behaving badly in the future, Reuters reported.
"There have to be consequences for these provocative actions," he said, adding that the United States and its U.N. allies intend to work together and individually to apply pressure on the North (Jon Herskovitz, Reuters, July 18).
North Korea, though, has not yet given any indication it wishes to return to the negotiating table. "Nothing right now," Campbell said (Agence France-Presse III/Spacewar.com, July 20).
For its part, South Korea yesterday said again that it does not plan to seek nuclear weapons of its own, declaring it was confident in Washington's ability to protect it from the North, AFP reported.
Washington and Seoul have said that the United States withdrew its nuclear missiles from South Korean territory in 1991. South Korea remains under the U.S. 'nuclear umbrella" of protection.
"Some people say that nuclear weapons should be redeployed on the Korean Peninsula, but we should think carefully about it," said South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee.
"The U.S.-promised extended deterrence, including the nuclear umbrella for South Korea, aims ... to force North Korea to give up its nuclear development and not dream such a futile dream," he added (Agence France-Presse IV/Yahoo!News, July 19).
South Korea today said its is formulating a protocol for inspecting suspicious cargo aboard North Korean freighters in accordance with last month's U.N. resolution calling on member nations to enforce an expanded trade embargo against Pyongyang, the Associated Press reported.
Any attempts to stop North Korean ships are expected to anger the reclusive nation, which recently pointed out that it is still technically at war with its southern neighbor.
"We need to make sure that we're extremely closely coordinated in a very critical period ahead," said Campbell before today's scheduled meeting with his South Korean counterpart (Jae-Soon Chang, Associated Press/Breitbart.com, July 20).
In the meantime, tensions on the Korean Peninsula have cooled enough that South Korea and the United States on Saturday said they might draw back their surveillance of the North, which has been elevated for nearly a month, Yonhap reported (Yonhap News Agency, July 19).