U.S., North Korean Officials Rumored to Swap Notes on Atomic Talks

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Sept. 26, 2013, 6:02 a.m.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s one­time point-man for North Korean policy met with a seni­or of­fi­cial from Py­ongy­ang in Ger­many, Ky­odo News re­por­ted on Wed­nes­day, cit­ing an in­formed source.

Former U.S. Spe­cial Rep­res­ent­at­ive for North Korea Policy Steph­en Bos­worth spoke in Ber­lin with Ri Yong Ho, North Korea’s rep­res­ent­at­ive to the six-party aid-for-de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion ne­go­ti­ations, the source said.

The re­por­ted meet­ing fol­lows a re­cent gath­er­ing in Beijing of a num­ber of aca­dem­ics and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials from par­ti­cipants in the talks — which are between China, Ja­pan, the two Koreas, Rus­sia and the United States and last were held in Decem­ber 2008.

A seni­or North Korean of­fi­cial told at­tendees of the Beijing meet­ing that his gov­ern­ment was in­ter­ested in re­turn­ing to ne­go­ti­ations, but only with no pre­con­di­tions. The United States and its al­lies South Korea and Ja­pan say they will not par­ti­cip­ate in new talks un­til Py­ongy­ang first makes a show of good faith on its com­mit­ment to de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion. At the same time, news re­ports over the last few weeks sug­gest the North is mak­ing head­way on sev­er­al fronts in its abil­ity to do­mest­ic­ally pro­duce fis­sile ma­ter­i­al — a de­vel­op­ment that if true would make it very dif­fi­cult in the fu­ture to have much con­fid­ence the coun­try was ad­her­ing to any new de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion deal.

In or­der to pres­sure the Kim Jong Un re­gime in­to giv­ing up its nuc­le­ar weapons work, con­cerned na­tions should tight­en fin­an­cial pen­al­ties against the North, former Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Coun­cil staffer Dav­id Ash­er told the Yon­hap News Agency.

“The whole pro­cess [of the six-party talks] has value, but none of this is likely to suc­ceed in get­ting North Korea to give up its nuc­le­ar pro­gram un­less we are will­ing to threaten the re­gime … in a way that in­tern­ally threatens it — tak­ing away their money and for­cing them to fight among them­selves,” said Ash­er, who also served as co­ordin­at­or of the North Korea Work­ing Group at the State De­part­ment.

“If we want, or have any hope [of] try­ing to get them to change their nuc­le­ar pos­ture, let alone give up their nuc­le­ar weapons, we are gonna have to aim at the fin­an­cial heart of Kim Jong Un’s re­gime.”

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