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N.K. to change course only when it fears regime survival: ex-U.S. diplomat

2016/09/07 16:26

SEOUL, Sept. 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea will change its course only when international pressure could work in a way to make Pyongyang concerned about the very existence of its regime, a former U.S. diplomat said Wednesday.

Evans Revere, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that the prospect of making North Korea give up its nuclear weapons is becoming "more distant and more difficult" than ever before.

"The only way to get North Korea's attention is to put at risk the one thing that North Korea values more highly than its nuclear weapons. That's the future existence of the regime," Revere, a former deputy assistant secretary of state, told reporters in Seoul.

His remarks came as North Korea has claimed technical advances in its nuclear and missile programs, saying that it has the full capacity to carry out nuclear strikes.

In defiance of international condemnation, Pyongyang has steadily fired off ballistic missiles this year including the intermediate-range Musudan and a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Revere said that the series of missile launches this year showed that North Korea is rapidly improving its ability to deliver nuclear and other weapons toward specific targets accurately.

He said that North Korea's determination to build its nuclear program is leaving the international community with "fewer and fewer options" to pursue.

"The possibility that North Korea might seek to use nuclear weapons to blackmail one or more of its neighbors is also a real possibility," he said.

He said history showed that even attractive incentives were not sufficient to convince North Korea to walk towards a different path.

In March, the United Nations Security Council imposed its toughest sanctions on Pyongyang for its fourth nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch in the following month. Seoul, Washington and others slapped their own punitive measures against Pyongyang.

Revere said that some experts believe that the regime change should take place for North Korea's denuclearization, but he called for a prudent approach toward such a rapid transformation.

"The goal is not using pressure to achieve the regime change, but the goal is using pressure to create in the minds of North Koreans fear for their ability to survive," he said.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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