Speaking about North Korea’s demand for “corresponding measures by the U.S.” as a precondition to the dismantlement of nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday that denuclearization must come before concessions. Although U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed the developments at the inter-Korean summit right after the announcement of the Pyongyang Declaration, the U.S. practically reiterated its argument that it will not declare an end to the Korean War unless North Korea abandons its nuclear arsenal.
The remarks by the U.S. can be part of its power struggle before resuming talks with North Korea. But it appears the U.S. has a firm policy of not making any moves unless the North takes concrete steps toward a complete denuclearization. Washington believes that what Kim Jong Un’s promises only constitute nuclear freeze and nothing has been done to dismantle already possessed nuclear warheads, nuclear materials, and nuclear technology. The reason why the U.S. thinks it is so important for North Korea to report a list of its nuclear arsenal is because it would determine if the North intends to dismantle its nuclear arsenal or just freeze its nuclear programs.
A significant difference in opinion between the U.S. and North Korea has been revealed once again before the ink on the Pyongyang Declaration has dried. When South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump meet in New York on September 24 (local time), they will have to come up with a solution that can resolve the differences. It is not an exaggeration to say that the success of the inter-Korean summit will be determined at the South Korea-U.S. summit.
President Moon said he did not include all the details of his discussions with Kim Jong Un in the Pyongyang Declaration, and the U.S. State Department implied that they have come to an agreement with North Korea on nuclear inspection by the IAEA. Building on these developments, President Moon and President Trump need to establish creative solutions. One possible solution would be declaring an end to the Korean War in exchange for submitting a list of nuclear arsenal and setting a timeline for denuclearization along with dismantling nuclear facilities in Yongbyon.