PN's Voice 159

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PN's Voice No. 159 15.09.2020 
Small steps, Road to peace

Woodward: Kim put 'Conditions' on Denuclearization After US Summit
Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward’s upcoming book “Rage” details how North Korean leader Kim Jong-un began putting conditions on denuclearization three months after his first-ever summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018. Woodward also noted that correspondence between Kim and Trump "increased in both frequency and affection" following their first meeting. "I just have arrived back in America, and the media for North Korea and you has been fantastic," Trump wrote to Kim on June 15, three days after the two met in Singapore in one of 27 letters exchanged between the two leaders disclosed in ‘Rage’. Kim replied in July, saying, "The significant first meeting with Your Excellency and the joint statement that we signed together in Singapore 24 days ago was indeed the start of a meaningful journey." However, within just 3 months, Kim began putting conditions on denuclearization. "We are willing to take further meaningful steps one at a time in a phased manner, such as the complete shutdown of the Nuclear Weapons Institute or the Satellite Launch District and the irreversible closure of the nuclear materials production facility," Kim said in letter written in September. Woodward was keen to point out that "Historically the U.S. had rejected conditions (on North Korean denuclearization) outright."

Woodward also offered an account of what went wrong in the Hanoi summit in February, 2019; the second between Kim and Trump. Citing quotes from his 18 exclusive interviews with Trump held between December and July, Woodward says that Kim was ready to give up one of his five nuclear sites; "Listen, one doesn't help and two doesn't help and three doesn't help and four doesn't help. Five does help," Trump was quoted as saying in reply.

A third official summit has still not been forthcoming, despite a brief meeting at the DMZ in June of last year. Since their last meeting Kim wrote in an August letter: "My belief was that the provocative combined military exercises would either be cancelled or postponed ahead of our two countries' working-level negotiations where we would continue to discuss important matters…I am clearly offended and I do not want to hide this feeling from you. I am really, very offended.” Trump had previously responded to their first summit in Singapore, Trump by ending its joint military exercises with South Korea: "We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should.”

Source : The Korea Times


SK Government: Any U.S. Military Force in Korea Impossible Without Seoul's Consent
Cheong Wa Dae reiterated this Monday that it is impossible for the United States to use any military force on the Korean Peninsula without South Korea's consent. The announcement comes in response to a description in the aforementioned forthcoming book by Bob Woodward that the U.S. had carefully reviewed using nuclear weapons against North Korea in response to its military provocations in 2017. According to Woodward's book " Washington had plans for a war against North Korea "on the shelf" over a series of high-profile military provocations by the North, including the testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in July 2017. Woodward detailed that a potential U.S. response to an attack could include the use of 80 nuclear weapons. The timing of the Cheong Wa Dae’s announcement is partially interesting as Seoul-Washington continue to discuss details of the transfer of OPCON (Operational CONtrol – the full control of the South Korean military; currently South Korea only controls its own military in times of peace, but controls is handed to the U.S. in times of war).
Source : Yonhap News


Signs of Discrepancy on Seoul-Washington New Working-Level Talks
Choi Jong-kun, new first vice minister of foreign affairs, returned to Seoul this week after his first meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Stephen Biegun, at the U.S. State Department. In a statement following the meeting, the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the two sides had "agreed" on the establishment of a new format of bilateral talks at the director-general level. The ministry highlighted the new type of bilateral talks as a primary achievement of the new first vice minister. But some local media have taken issue with a discrepancy in the statements released by the ministry and the U.S. State Department about the outcome of the Choi-Biegun meeting. In particular, the State Department's readout makes absolutely no mention about any kind of new talks between the two allies. Also missing from the U.S. statement is the "close cooperation for a swift resumption of talks between the two Koreas, the U.S. and North Korea," which also appears at the forefront of the Korean statement. It is also noticeable that the U.S. statement actually mentions some very sensitive issues for the Korean side, particularly cooperation with Japan. With the U.S. presidential election less than two months away, experts are underlining the need for Seoul to maintain close communication with Washington on North Korea as well as bilateral issues. Concerns are rising that a second Trump term in the White House could bring some real changes to the U.S. forces stationed in Korea. Trump withdrew 12,000 U.S. troops from Germany and has threatened to reduce troop numbers here as well as he has illustrated with several public criticisms of South Korea for "paying peanuts" toward the upkeep of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK).
Source : The Korea Times

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