Washington has refused to recognize North Korea as a nuclear-armed state, effectively closing the door on negotiations with Pyongyang. North Korea said it would only conduct talks with the US as an equal nuclear state.
“North Korea’s demand to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state is neither realistic nor acceptable,” US Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman told Reuters in Geneva. One of the main conditions laid out by the US for lifting sanctions is Pyongyang’s renouncement of its nuclear ambitions.
This follows demands by Washington for Pyongyang to show “clear signs” that it is taking steps to end nuclear weapons development; only then will the US consider easing the crippling sanctions against the isolated state.
The conditions were decried as unacceptable by North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Tuesday.
“If the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [DPRK] sits at a table with the US, it has to be a dialogue between nuclear weapons states, not one side forcing the other to dismantle nuclear weapons,” the newspaper said.
On Thursday, Pyongyang issued conditions to the US and its southern opponents, hinting that the conflict may be coming to an end. They asked for the withdrawal of US troops from the South an end to military drills on the Korean Peninsula.
Over the past few weeks, tensions having been steadily building on the peninsula amid heightening bellicose rhetoric from Pyongyang, which threatened strikes on the South and the US. The US sent two F-22 jets to the Korean Peninsula at the beginning of April, drawing Pyongyang’s ire and further exacerbating tensions.
The crisis began when North Korea carried out its third nuclear bomb test in February, provoking condemnation from the international community and heavy sanctions imposed by the US. Washington had already cut off food aid it had been providing to the Asian nation as part of a denuclearization-for-aid agreement reached in 2005.
‘Ultimately it’s the Americans’ fault’
Author and Asia specialist Tim Beal told RT that Washington’s policy towards Pyongyang was the root of the crisis.
“If they had stuck to all their agreements in the past it never would have come to this,” he said in an interview. “If they’d stuck to the agreed framework that Clinton signed back in 1994, then the Yongbyon nuclear reactor would have been dismantled and taken out of the country.”
He noted that every time the nations had come close to sealing a deal, Washington has “shied away,”inciting Pyongyang to further aggression.
Beal described Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions as their only bargaining chip with the US, and that their ultimate goal was to make peace with the US and deliver much-needed food aid to a starving population.
However, “the Americans upped the ante with this current range of military exercises, in order to stop the new South Korean government engaging with the North as Park Geun-hye had promised in her election campaign,” he told RT.
He concluded the Americans would eventually end up recognizing North Korea as a nuclear-armed state. Citing US policy towards India under the Bush Administration, Beal described how history was repeating itself.
“The Americans under George Bush did the same thing with India. They had told off India for developing nuclear weapons and for being outside of the Non-Proliferation Treaty,” he said, adding that Washington eventually compromised on India, leaving the Non-Proliferation Treaty by the wayside because they decided it made a “good counterbalance” to China in the region.
Washington signed the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement with Delhi in 2005, effectively exempting India from the Non-Proliferation Treaty.