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Blue House describes its nuclear plan for North

Apr 04,2018
The Blue House on Tuesday gave more specifics on how it would try to negotiate denuclearization with North Korea, calling for a comprehensive package that is implemented in a series of steps.

“The package deal and phased-in settlement are two sides of the same coin,” said a senior Blue House official speaking on condition of anonymity during a meeting with reporters. “We have no choice but to declare a package deal and take gradual procedures to implement it.”

The official’s remark illustrates the Blue House’s position that once North Korea strikes a denuclearization deal, measures to implement it and verify the denuclearization should be carried out in a gradual manner.

“Nothing has been decided except that the deal should be made in a comprehensive and gradual manner as advocated by President Moon Jae-in,” stressed the official.

The official’s remarks on Tuesday followed reports that the Blue House rejected any notion that the 2003 deal in which Libya disposed of its weapons of mass destruction for sanctions relief could be repeated.

In that deal, the West made the disposal of weapons of mass destruction as a precondition for sanctions relief.

North Korea believes Muammar Qaddafi signed his own death warrant by surrendering his nuclear arsenal. He was murdered at the hands of rebels in 2011.

The overthrow of Colonel Qaddafi and his death are proof to Pyongyang that it must hold onto its nuclear weapons until it has an ironclad assurance of regime survival, experts say.

“If one insists the North must carry out complete, verifiable and irreversible disarmament as a pre-condition for dialogue, then we are going back to the status-quo,” the Blue House official said.

The official also stressed Seoul will be a “mediator” between Pyongyang and Washington in denuclearization talks, saying it will closely coordinate with the two for two upcoming summits.

“For the North Korea-U.S. summit, the two sides are drafting many negotiating guidelines,” said the Blue House official. “On our part, we will also closely coordinate with both sides [to help them find middle ground], serving in the role of a mediator.”

The official admitted what will come out of an inter-Korea summit this month will have a “direct impact” on the Kim Jong-un-Donald Trump meeting. The Moon government has been preparing for the third inter-Korean summit meeting “in earnest,” the official continued. “But no one can predict at this point what could happen after the North-U.S. summit meeting.

“There have been many reports speculating possible scenarios,” said the official. “But nothing has been determined so far.”

In recognition of the high stakes in the two upcoming summits and potential breakthrough, the official said, “The eyes of the world are on the Korean Peninsula now.”

The official dismissed concerns of a possible gap in positions between Seoul and Washington in light of the nomination of John Bolton as U.S. President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]