Editorial Notes

North Korea cannot advance economic development without denuclearisation: Yomiuri Shimbun


Korean People's Army tanks take part in a military parade on Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang, on September 9, 2018.
Korean People's Army tanks take part in a military parade on Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang, on September 9, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

In this editorial, the paper says North Korea will not be able to attain its goal of "improving the lives of the people", if it does not abandon nuclear weapons and depend solely on trade conducted with China.

TOKYO (YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - As long as it postpones denuclearisation, North Korea can neither be assured of the safety of its regime nor rebuild its economy. To what extent does Mr Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, recognise that reality?

North Korea has staged a military parade in Pyongyang marking the 70th anniversary of the country's founding, and Mr Kim reviewed the parade.

Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which had been exhibited in February's parade, were not displayed during the latest event.

In response to the mood of friendship due to a US-North Korea summit meeting in June, Mr Kim seems to have shown consideration so as not to antagonise US President Donald Trump.

By restraining himself from showing off his nation's nuclear weapons and missiles, he may be seeking to ensure the United States declares an end to the Korean War at an early date.

It must not be forgotten that the North still retains its nuclear arms and ballistic missiles. All it has done so far is merely blow up tunnels at a nuclear test site and start work to dismantle a missile testing ground.

During a visit to the North by a special envoy sent by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Mr Kim is said to have told them that he wished to eliminate hostile relations with the United States and realise denuclearisation by the end of Mr Trump's first presidential term.

Mr Trump's current term will end in January 2021. To complete its denuclearisation in somewhat more than two years, North Korea must, first of all, quickly submit a list of all its nuclear weapons, related materials and facilities.

 
 
 

US NEEDS FIRM STRATEGY

Mr Trump expressed his gratitude to Mr Kim, hailing the fact that the parade did not entail a display of such weapons as ICBMs and calling it a "very positive" message from North Korea.

It is worrying to note that Mr Trump relies on his personal relationship of trust with Mr Kim and remains optimistic about the North's denuclearisation.

When he caused US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call off a visit to North Korea in August, Mr Trump expressed his view that such a visit would be postponed until the trade dispute between the United States and China is settled. It will be even more difficult to resolve the nuclear problem if US-China antagonism is linked to that issue.

How should the gridlock in the US-North Korea talks be overcome while promoting "the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula" and the provision of "security guarantees" for the North?

The Trump administration must take responsibility to establish a firm strategy in cooperation with such countries as Japan and South Korea.

Mr Kim held talks with China's Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, who was visiting North Korea on the occasion of that country's 70th national foundation anniversary.

They agreed to reinforce relations between the two nations. This seems to show that the North expects China to support it in negotiations with the United States and to extend economic assistance.

To advance the economy-building policy unveiled by Mr Kim in April, it is indispensable for the North to meet the requirements for lifting the sanctions imposed on it by the UN Security Council.

If it does not abandon nuclear weapons and solely depends on trade conducted with China by using a loophole in the jointly imposed sanctions, North Korea will not be able to attain its goal of "improving the lives of the people".

The Yomiuri Shimbun is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media organisations.