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Dismantling Yongbyon is irreversible advance in NK’s denuclearization: Moon

Discussions for third Trump-Kim summit underway

President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday it that North Korea can be considered to have entered an irreversible stage of denuclearization process when it dismantles a nuclear complex in Yongbyon.

“If all the nuclear facilities in the complex, including the plutonium reprocessing facilities and the uranium enrichment facilities, are completely demolished and verified, it would be possible to say that the denuclearization of North Korea has entered an irreversible stage,” he said in a joint written interview with global news agencies. 

President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech to Korean War veterans in a luncheon at Cheong Wa Dae, June 24. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech to Korean War veterans in a luncheon at Cheong Wa Dae, June 24. (Yonhap)

The Yongbyon Nuclear Complex is what North Korean leader Kim Jong-un offered to shut down in return for sanctions relief in a summit with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February.

The two leaders walked out from the meeting without reaching an agreement.

“Although an agreement was not reached last time in Hanoi, I expect that there will be substantive progress if the two sides continue negotiations based on what was discussed in Singapore and Hanoi,” Moon said.

Making substantive progress in North Korea-US talks and in the denuclearization process will give an impetus to inter-Korean economic cooperation projects and help the international community seek a partial or gradual easing of the UN Security Council sanctions imposed on the North Korean regime.

Recalling his meeting with the North Korean leader in person during three inter-Korean summits, Moon said he believe in Kim’s determination for denuclearization, adding that he was “quite a flexible and resolute person.”

“Chairman Kim expressed his intent to finalize the denuclearization process as soon as possible and to concentrate on economic development.”

The president refuted opinions that talks between Washington and Pyongyang to build peace on the Korean Peninsula have hit a deadlock, saying discussions for the leaders’ third summit are underway.

“Both sides have been engaged in dialogue in regard to a third summit. It’s noteworthy that the behind-the-scenes talks have been preceded by the mutual understanding of each other’s position gained through the Hanoi summit,” he said.

He added that dialogue between the South and the North through diverse channels to sustain inter-Korean talks is ongoing.

Moon reiterated that inter-Korean economic cooperation projects, such as the resumption of operations at the Kaeong industrial park and Kumkangsan tours, are appealing options to both Koreas as well as to the US as it can utilize them as corresponding measures to induce the North to take denuclearization steps.

“The more close-knit and stronger economic cooperation becomes, the harder it will become to regress back to the past confrontational order,” he said.

If an inter-Korean agreement in the military domain is properly implemented along with progress in denuclearization, the South could “enhance transparency concerning military postures by exchanging pertinent information through the inter-Korean joint military committee and observing military drills and training,” Moon said.

Weapons such as the long-range North Korean artillery targeting Seoul and the short-range missiles that both Koreas possess could be disarmed with further progress in denuclearization, he said.

By Park Han-na (