Published: 6 January 2018 Author: Stefan Talmon
In his annual New Year’s Day Address, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned that the whole of the United States mainland was within the range of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and that “the nuclear button was always on [his] office desk all the time”. At the same time he signalled that he was open to talks with South Korea. He said:
“Now it is not time for the north and the south to turn their backs on each other and merely express their respective standpoints; it is time that they sit face to face with a view to holding sincere discussions over the issue of improving inter-Korean relations by our nation itself and seek a way out for its settlement in a bold manner.
As for the Winter Olympic Games to be held soon in south Korea, it will serve as a good occasion for demonstrating our nation’s prestige and we earnestly wish the Olympic Games a success. From this point of view we are willing to dispatch our delegation and adopt other necessary measures; with regard to this matter, the authorities of the north and the south may meet together soon.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in accepted the offer for talks. Asked to comment on the talks between North and South Korea scheduled to take place in Panmunjom on 9 January 2018, the deputy government spokesperson commented on 5 January 2018 as follows:
“[W]e believe that the talks […] may contribute to relaxing the current situation. However, this is only the case if the regime in Pyongyang refrains from further provocations and stops its missile and nuclear tests which are contrary to international law. For this, it is essential that the international community speaks with one voice when addressing North Korea. In particular, China and Russia are called upon to fully implement the existing sanctions. North Korea’s missile and nuclear programme constitutes a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and thus a breach of international law and is the cause of the tensions on the Korean Peninsula.”
[To be continued].
Category: Arms control and disarmament