North Korea Reaches Out to US with Offer for Nuclear, Missile Testing Moratorium

A South Korean man watches a television displaying news broadcasts reporting on North Korea's recent medium-range ballistic missile launch at a station in Seoul, South Korea, 22 May 2017. Jeon Heon-kyun/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

  • North Korea has offered the US the possibility for a moratorium on its nuclear and missile tests.
  • Offer has become public knowledge through the North Korean Ambassador to India.
  • It appears to be an attempt to start direct talks with the US.
  • One of the main North Korean demands is the termination of US-South Korean military drills.
  • South Korea’s President Moon has rejected the possibility that South Korea might scale down its drills with the US.

On behalf of the Kim Jong-un regime, North Korea’s Ambassador to India has offered the US a conditional moratorium on his country’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

The offer which is seen as an attempt to hold direct talks with the US comes against the backdrop of the death of US college student Otto Warmbier who has passed away after 17 months in North Korean captivity, and South Korea’s decision to suspend the further deployment of the US THAAD missile shield.

In the latest of its constant ballistic missile provocations, in early June, North Korea fired several anti-ship cruise missiles.

North Korea’s previous ballistic missile firing was at the end of May when the regime of Kim Jong-un has alleged that its had been a successful test of a precision-guided system as it was known to be in pursuit of developing an “aircraft carrier killer”, i.e. an anti-ship ballistic missile.

North Korea has performed its 11th ballistic missile firings since Donald Trump became President of the United States, with eight successful and three failed tests.

The recent North Korean provocations have led South Korea to admit that the missile program of Kim Jong-un’s regime is advancing faster than thought, and that a war might be in the making.

North Korea’s regime has claimed that its new rocket could deliver a “large heavy nuclear warhead” all the way to the US mainland.

Ongoing activity and a large number of people have been spotted at North Korea’s nuclear test site, the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility, amid lingering concerns that the regime of leader Kim Jong-un could carry out its sixth nuclear test.

There have been reports that North Korea has been bracing for a preemptive US missile strike similar to the missile strike on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in response to the April 4 attack with chemical weapons.

In early June, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed new sanctions on North Korea and entities trading with it over its ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and continued violations of UN Security Council resolutions.

A South Korean Army artillery unit fires a K-55 self-propelled howitzer during a live-fire drill at a training range one day after North Korea test-fired a new intermediate-range ballistic missile the previous day, in the border city of Paju, north of Seoul, South Korea, 22 May 2017. Photo: Yonhap/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

North Korea’s Offer

North Korea’s Ambassador to India on Wednesday offered a conditional moratorium on his country’s nuclear and missile tests in an apparent bid to hold talks with the United States, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

Ambassador Kye Chun-yong said North Korea was willing to discuss a possible freezing of its nuclear and missile tests under certain circumstances.

“If our demands is met, we can negotiate in terms of the moratorium [on things] such as weapons testing,” Kye said in English in an interview posted on the website of Indian TV station WION.

In his words, one of the top demands of the regime of Kim Jong-un would be to halt the joint military drills between the US and South Korea, which Pyongyang denounced as a rehearsal for invasion.

Meanwhile, in an interview with CBS, South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in said his country had no plans to end or downsize joint military exercises with the US.

He described as “personal views” his adviser’s recent remarks in Washington that South Korea and the US may consider scaling back their joint military exercises in exchange for North Korea freezing its nuclear and missile development programs.

In February 2012, North Korea agreed to to a temporary moratorium on missile and nuclear tests and a freeze of its uranium-enrichment facilities in exchange for 240,000 metric tons of food aid from the US.

However, the deal was ended two months later when North Korea launched what it claims was a rocket to put a satellite into orbit. The rocket exploded soon after liftoff.

Despite sanctions and international pressure, North Korea has repeatedly vowed to further develop its missile and nuclear weapons program, viewing it as a deterrent against what it claims is Washington’s hostile policy against it.

The US has about 28,500 troops in South Korea as a deterrent against North Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a ceasefire, not a peace treaty.

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