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Pence repeats call for pressure on Pyongyang

Nov 12,2018
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called on the international community to keep “the pressure campaign” on North Korea “until we achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

“As I will make clear, the United States will continue to exert unprecedented diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea,” said Pence in an opinions piece published by the Washington Post Friday, strongly suggesting that Washington will not ease economic sanctions until the North shows evidence of more tangible steps toward denuclearization.

He also stressed that such a campaign would last until the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” is achieved.

In what appears to be an effort to underscore the importance of economic pressure on the North, Pence said “our resolve,” apparently referring to the ongoing tightening economic sanctions on the country rather than diplomatic peace initiatives, “has brought that country to the negotiating table.”

Pence’s remark came as Washington and Pyongyang appear to be at odds over specifics in the denuclearization process, particularly over what the United States is willing to give in return for the North taking further steps toward denuclearization.

While the North said that it was willing to allow U.S. experts to observe the permanent dismantlement of its long-range missile engine testing site at its key Yongbyon nuclear complex if the United States offered something in return, such as agreeing to declare an end to the 1950-53 Korea War, the two sides have not been able to narrow down the gap in their positions, brining negotiations to a standstill.

The two sides have yet to reschedule a trip by Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, to New York that was abruptly cancelled just a day before he was meant to meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. If held, it would have been an opportunity to continue denuclearization talks and discuss a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, for which a date and venue have not yet been determined.

With no sign of a breakthrough in the stalled bilateral talks, the Choson Sinbo, the mouthpiece of the pro-North General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, warned that there would be “no reasons for dialogue” on the North’s denuclearization if the United States “prefers to stick to the status quo.”

“If the U.S. takes credible measures in order to solve concerns held by the North, the improved North-U.S. relations [that will come as a result] will bring a second summit between the two leaders closer,” said the paper in an article published Saturday.

“One thing that stands clear,” the article said, “is that if an action for action principle, which is the most rational and fair framework, is taken up as a premise, the North-U.S. talks will not be stopped,” reiterating the North’s demand for a framework in which the North receives something in reward for each denuclearization step.

In a rebuke of Pence’s remark that it was “our resolve,” or maximum pressure, that brought the North to the negotiating table, the paper said it was “all due to the North’s measures taken in advance” that led to North Korea policy “achievements touted by President Trump.”

It warned that the North’s patience was “getting thin,” though it had taken into account the “internal affairs” of the White House.

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