- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 13, 2003

GENEVA — North Korean diplomats said yesterday the nation was willing to give up its nuclear deterrent, stop testing and exporting missiles and permit annual inspections as part of a grand bargain with its four neighbors and the United States.

In exchange, the diplomats said, the North expected written security guarantees and compensation for economic losses suffered by a decision to halt construction of two South Korean-made nuclear power plants in the North.

In addition, the envoys said the United States must pledge not to hinder the economic development of the North, particularly its dealings with Japan and South Korea.

Two diplomats, in a rare, wide-ranging interview, reiterated Pyongyang’s position that it might be prepared to consider President Bush’s proposal for written guarantees on security “positively” if they were linked to simultaneous diplomatic actions demanded by the communist regime.

The envoys said there is so far no confirmation of the date, but the six-way talks involving the United States, Russia, China the two Koreas and Japan are expected to continue, and they underscored that Pyongyang “agreed in principle to the next round of talks.”

Until now, North Korea has been adamant it wants a nonaggression pact with the United States, which President Bush and his administration have refused.

On Oct. 22, Mr. Bush said “a treaty is not going to happen, but there are other ways to effect, on paper, what I have said publicly: We have no intention of invading. Obviously, any guarantee would be conditional, on Kim Jong-il doing what he hopefully will say he’ll do, which is get rid of his nuclear weapons program.”

A few days later, Pyongyang signaled its willingness to consider a written guarantee instead of a formal treaty.

When asked whether Pyongyang was still insistent on a North Korea-U.S. nonaggression pact, or could live with an accord signed by the six parties, one of the envoys, Kim Yong-ho, said yesterday:

“If Mr. Bush’s proposal on written guarantees of security is based on the principle of simultaneous action which was proposed by the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], we can consider positively about that.”

The envoy said there is a need for simultaneous action between North Korea and the United States because, as he put it, “between the U.S. and the DPRK there is no confidence or mutual trust, so we cannot do first, and the U.S. cannot do first, so we do simultaneously.”

Pressed on what he meant by simultaneously, Mr. Kim said “first guarantee the security, and second do not hinder the economic development of my country.”

Kim Song-sol, the other senior North Korean diplomat, added that during the first round of six-way talks in Beijing in April, Pyongyang had proposed a nonaggression treaty, the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two, and the guarantee of the realization of economic collaboration between its neighbors South Korea and Japan.

The envoy added that the North’s demands also include compensation for the electricity loss and to complete construction of the two light water reactors.

As part of the bargain in exchange, Kim Song-sol said, Pyongyang would “not manufacture nuclear weapons, allow annual inspections, dissolve the nuclear facilities, and suspend the testing of missiles or the missile export or such kind of things.”

Turning to other issues, the diplomats also urged other governments “including the U.S., to push Japan to respond positively” to a proposal by Pyongyang for bilateral talks to discuss reparations for war crimes and other serious human rights violations inflicted by the Japanese military and imperial government during World War II and the period of occupation and colonial rule of Korea.

“Japan should respond positively in any way. It is a very critical issue to solve before the normalization of the relations between the two countries … therefore the Japanese government should come to the table, as we proposed,” Kim Song-sol said.

“We cannot explore any possibilities if Japan refuses the proposal,” said Kim Yong-ho.

The envoys stressed that new evidence disclosing 420,000 victims forcibly drafted during the Japanese occupation has renewed calls for action on the past crimes.

This included about 200 women and girls who were sexually abused by the Japanese forces, and many more who were victims of torture or used as guinea pigs for experiments.

“Over 1 million [Koreans] were massacred by the Japanese and also 8.4 million Korean adults and youth forcefully drafted, kidnapped by the Japanese military and government and used as forced labor.

The last round of North Korea-Japan normalization talks were held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in October 2002, just one month after the historic visit to Pyongyang by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

The North says the addition of security preconditions by Japan linked to the nuclear issue and missile posturing led to the breakdown of talks.

However, for Japan the North Korean nuclear threat was a top security issue that had to be addressed in the talks.

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