Sanctions undermine denuclearisation process, North Korean official tells security forum

Military delegates attend the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, China, on Oct 25, 2018.
Military delegates attend the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, China, on Oct 25, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - A North Korean official has called on the United States to lift sanctions against his country, pointing out that these measures destroy confidence in the denuclearisation process taking place on the Korean peninsula.

"We think that sanctions and pressure do more harm than good. They are not at all confidence-building measures, but confidence-destroying measures, said Mr Song Il Hyok, deputy director general of the North Korean foreign ministry's Institute for Disarmament and Peace.

Mr Song, who was speaking at a session on the Korean peninsula's security situation at the Xiangshan Forum on Thursday (Oct 25), said that without confidence it will be difficult to implement the joint declarations on denuclearisation that his country has made this year after its summits with South Korea, and with the US.

He added that both US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who met in Singapore in June, "recognised that the mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".

He also urged countries enforcing United Nations sanctions on his country to pay attention to "positive developments" in that region.

Mr Song's comments come even as both Mr Trump and Mr Kim are expected to meet for a second summit soon.

North Korea, which has halted its nuclear and missile tests, has called repeatedly for international sanctions against the country to be lifted or loosened.

 
 
 

It has chided the US for maintaining its stance that sanctions on North Korea should be maintained until there has been complete denuclearisation. The US' position is part of its maximum-pressure approach to nuclear negotiations.

Another panellist, Senior Colonel Wang Xiaobin of China's Academy of Military Sciences said both the US and North Korea held opposing positions on the matter, noting that whether both parties can reach a compromise will be an "important issue".

At Thursday's session, Chinese experts on the panel also called for sanctions to be lifted.

Mr Yang Xiyu, a senior fellow of the China Institute of International Studies, said it was time to rethink sanctions against North Korea.

"Now that the DPRK has taken substantive action on dismantlement, the sanctions should be reduced," he said.

This year's Xiangshan Forum is the eighth edition of the annual security conference, and the first to be attended by a North Korean general.

Colonel-General Kim Hyong Rong, vice-minister of North Korea's People's Armed Forces, said at the forum's opening plenary that his country was focusing on economic development, and wants to turn the Korean peninsula into a "cradle for peace and prosperity".