‘Reversible Steps’ Could Restart North Korea Nuclear Talks: U.S. Envoy

U.S. special representative for North Korea policy Glyn Davies talks to the press in Tokyo in November. The senior diplomat in public remarks on Tuesday painted a gloomy picture of the current state of the nuclear impasse with Pyongyang.
National Journal
Rachel Oswald
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Rachel Oswald
May 14, 2014, 10:45 a.m.

A U.S. en­voy on Tues­day sug­ges­ted Wash­ing­ton could ac­cept “re­vers­ible steps” from North Korea on de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion in or­der to jump-start frozen ne­go­ti­ations.

“What they do, quite frankly, in the ini­tial stages would be per­fectly re­vers­ible steps that they would take, de­clar­at­ory steps,” said Glyn Dav­ies, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s spe­cial en­voy for North Korea policy. He em­phas­ized, however, that Py­ongy­ang could only re­turn to the long-para­lyzed six-party pro­cess if it ac­cep­ted the “fun­da­ment­al premise” that the ne­go­ti­ations were fo­cused on the per­man­ent shut­ter­ing of its nuc­le­ar weapons pro­gram.

Dav­ies was re­spond­ing to a re­port­er’s ques­tion on wheth­er the United States was still de­mand­ing from Py­ongy­ang con­crete proof of its com­mit­ment to ir­re­vers­ible de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion as a pre­con­di­tion to re­turn­ing to the ne­go­ti­ations, which also in­volve China, Ja­pan, Rus­sia and South Korea.

“Dav­ies’ an­swer sug­gests that if the six-party talks were to be­gin, the first ac­tions the U.S. and its part­ners would de­mand would be aimed at lim­its that curb the D.P.R.K.’s nuc­le­ar and mis­sile po­ten­tial,” said Daryl Kim­ball, Arms Con­trol As­so­ci­ation ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or, in an email.

Po­ten­tial re­vers­ible steps that the North could take to gain the con­fid­ence of oth­er coun­tries could in­clude a pledge to sus­pend nuc­le­ar and mis­sile test­ing. A still­born U.S-North Korea agree­ment reached on Leap Day 2012 in­volved such a prom­ise of a test­ing morator­i­um; Py­ongy­ang was seen to quickly break faith with Wash­ing­ton when it weeks later un­suc­cess­fully at­temp­ted to send a rock­et in­to space.

Speak­ing dur­ing a Tues­day even­ing pan­el dis­cus­sion at the Cen­ter for Stra­tegic and In­ter­na­tion­al Stud­ies in Wash­ing­ton, Dav­ies re­jec­ted any chance of the Leap Day deal’s pre­cepts be­ing re­vived.

“We’d like to see them take con­crete ac­tions,” he said of North Korea. “The stuff they gotta do — they know what they have to do.”

The six-party talks format fo­cuses on re­ward­ing North Korea for its phased de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion with timed in­fu­sions of eco­nom­ic as­sist­ance and se­cur­ity agree­ments; the last round of ne­go­ti­ations took place in late 2008. Since that time, Py­ongy­ang has det­on­ated mul­tiple atom­ic devices, car­ried out a num­ber of ap­par­ent long-range bal­list­ic mis­sile tests, re­vealed a urani­um en­rich­ment ca­pa­city and re­star­ted a moth­balled plutoni­um-pro­duc­tion re­act­or. Most re­cently, the world has been wait­ing to see if the North will make good on its re­peated threats of con­duct­ing a fourth nuc­le­ar test.

Dav­ies painted an over­all dim pic­ture of the cur­rent state of the nuc­le­ar im­passe with the North: “The fact that they’re not in­ter­ested in resolv­ing the cases of Amer­ic­ans who have been im­prisoned in North Korea tells you something about their cur­rent in­terest in go­ing back to mul­ti­lat­er­al dip­lomacy.”

Since Kim Jong Un came to power in late 2011, the North Korean re­gime has pub­lished a num­ber of state­ments that un­der­line how cent­ral nuc­le­ar weapons are to the re­gime’s sense of iden­tity.

“This new lead­er has done us a fa­vor, in a back-handed fash­ion, of mak­ing it quite clear that he has no in­ten­tion of mean­ing­fully de­nuc­lear­iz­ing, and that presents a prob­lem. But it also is a cla­ri­fy­ing mo­ment,” said Dav­ies, who formerly served as U.S. am­bas­sad­or to the In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency.

Vic­tor Cha, who served as spe­cial en­voy to North Korea dur­ing the George W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, said he did not be­lieve there was any­thing left of the six-party talks to sal­vage.

“The last meet­ing was in 2008. It’s been six years. If you don’t do something for six years, you prob­ably don’t do it any­more,” said Cha, who is a seni­or ad­viser to the CSIS think tank and par­ti­cip­ated in Tues­day’s pan­el.

Kim­ball, who at­ten­ded the event, warned that if Wash­ing­ton waits too long for the North to “re­com­mit to the goals” of a 2005 six-party talks joint state­ment on de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion, Py­ongy­ang’s lead­ers could ex­pand their fis­sile ma­ter­i­al stock­pile and fur­ther im­prove their mis­sile and nuc­le­ar cap­ab­il­it­ies.

“It is past time to make the ne­ces­sary ad­just­ments to the strategy of the United States and its part­ners to lim­it [the North’s] cap­ab­il­it­ies be­fore they be­come even more dan­ger­ous to the re­gion,” he said.

What We're Following See More »
UNANIMOUS DECISION
SCOTUS Rules Against Venue Shopping in Patent Cases
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Writing for an 8-0 Supreme Court on Monday, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that patent lawsuits "must be brought in the state where the defendant company is incorporated. ... The ruling likely spells an end to the near-monopoly the federal court in the Eastern District of Texas holds in handling patent cases. Plaintiffs for decades have filed suits in that pro-plaintiff district based on a broader interpretation of venue that made suits possible almost anywhere."

Source:
BASED ON FIFTH AMENDMENT
Flynn To Refuse To Cooperate With Subpoena
1 hours ago
BREAKING

Former National Security Adviser to President Donald Trump Michael Flynn will refuse to cooperate with a subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee. "Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination." Flynn was unlikely to turn over any documents without being granted immunity, as he "has previously sought immunity from 'unfair prosecution.'"

Source:
UNCERTAINTY THROUGH AUGUST
White House To Request Second 90-Day Delay In Obamacare Subsidy Case
2 hours ago
BREAKING

The Trump administration plans to ask a federal court Monday for a second 90-day delay in a lawsuit over Obamacare subsidies. The lawsuit, House vs. Price, revolves around the Obamacare co-payment program, which pays health insurers who partake in the Obamacare exchanges to ensure that people without means can gain coverage without having to pay unaffordable co-payments.

ISOLATION VS. OPENNESS
Trump Puts Rouhani in a Tough Spot
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"On Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump called on the world to isolate Iran," to the delight of his Sunni hosts, Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, however, on Saturday, "Iranians poured into the streets by the hundreds of thousands to celebrate the re-election of President Hassan Rouhani, whose message of opening up to the West helped him to trounce a hard-line challenger."

Source:
TILLERSON SAYS IT’S PART OF JERUSALEM
Trump Becomes First President To Visit Western Wall
3 hours ago
BREAKING
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login