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Moon says N. Korean denuclearization includes giving up existing weapons

2018/10/12 16:48

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SEOUL, Oct. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Friday North Korea understands the need to give up its existing nuclear weapons to achieve complete denuclearization and says it will do so. The only remaining questions are when and how, he added.

"North Korea promised complete denuclearization. It said it will give up nukes for economic development. (It) promised that it has no reason whatsoever to possess nukes while facing difficulties, such as sanctions, as long as the safety of their regime is guaranteed," Moon said in an interview with Britain's BBC news.

The interview was conducted one day before the South Korean leader was set to embark on his first trip to Europe that will take him to France and to Italy for the biennial Asia-Europe Meeting summit.

Moon said the complete denuclearization that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un promised included giving up existing weapons when asked.

"Complete denuclearization that Chairman Kim Jong-un says starts from not staging additional nuclear tests or nuclear missile tests and goes to dismantling facilities that produce nuclear weapons and develop missiles," the president said, according to a script of the interview released by his office Cheong Wa Dae.

"And it includes everything else, such as getting rid of existing nuclear weapons and nuclear materials," he added.

Moon has held three bilateral meetings with the reclusive North Korean leader, the most recent of which was their summit held in Pyongyang last month.

The president said he and the North Korean leader did not discuss when and how the North will completely give up its nuclear ambition, adding such issues need to be discussed between North Korea and the U.S.

"That is because North Korea is demanding the U.S. take corresponding measures," he said.

Moon has long insisted that corresponding measures for the North's denuclearization steps should include declaration of a formal end to the Korean War, which he says may provide some security assurance to the North while also reducing the possibility of future conflicts on the Korean Peninsula.

The two Koreas technically remain at war as the 1950-53 war ended only with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

The U.S. was earlier viewed as reluctant to give any reward to Pyongyang until the communist state fully denuclearizes.

Moon said the U.S. has agreed to the need to formally end the Korean War, even before complete denuclearization of North Korea.

"The issue of declaring a formal end to the war has been widely discussed with the U.S. side, including President (Donald) Trump. There was a consensus between South Korea and the U.S. that it would be desirable for that to take place at the earliest date possible," he said.

"And therefore, I believe the declaration of a formal end to the war is only a matter of when and that it will certainly take place," the president added.

bdk@yna.co.kr

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