U.S. changes language on North Korea nuclear issue, raises concerns

A woman walks past a television news screen showing a missile launch by North Korea in Seoul, South Korea, Sept. 10, 2019.

Senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have recently begun using the term “denuclearization of North Korea” instead of the previous phrase “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” a subtle but noticeable change that has raised concerns The subtle but obvious change has raised concerns.

For a decade, the term “peninsula” has been used in numerous UN Security Council resolutions and other international agreements, including the 2018 joint statement signed in Singapore by former U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which also used the phrase “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula “.

At a news conference in Seoul on Thursday (18), Blinken, who is visiting South Korea, did not respond to questions about the wording, but South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong said the emphasis on the peninsula was “more correct,” highlighting possible differences between the two allies.

“It means that for North Korea, we are showing that South Korea has denuclearized —— we have to go on together.” “If we can say ‘denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,’ we will have more confidence in convincing North Korea to follow our lead,” Jung said.

The night before, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the allies “reaffirmed the common goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula,” but the U.S. Defense Department said it was “concerned about the commitment to support North Korea’s diplomatic efforts to denuclearize.”

The change in U.S. language was not universal, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin using both phrases during a visit to Seoul this week. But experts and Western diplomatic sources say the new emphasis is deliberate and should be noted.

Ben Rhodes, who served as White House deputy national security adviser under former President Barack Obama, tweeted, “Careful deliberation on an issue is a marked shift from the Obama-era norm of ‘denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.’ “

Vipin Narang, an expert on nuclear strategy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the implication of unilateral denuclearization is “unacceptable to Pyongyang and unlikely to initiate any negotiations. Narang said.

Narang noted that the phrase “denuclearization of North Korea” implies that it is a unilateral obligation that North Korea has never agreed to.

In a statement Thursday, North Korean First Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Son Hee strongly criticized the Biden administration’s talk of complete denuclearization, calling it a “lunatic theory” that must be abandoned before talks can resume.

We have already declared our position that there can be no form of inter-Korean contact and dialogue unless the U.S. withdraws its hostile policy toward North Korea,” Choi said. So, in the future, we will not pay attention to such attempts by the U.S. either.”

She said the two sides can only engage in dialogue after establishing “an atmosphere of equal exchange between the two sides.” She also slammed the Biden Administration for its “lunatic theory” that has been advocating the threat from North Korea and its “baseless rhetoric” of complete denuclearization.

The North Korean nuclear talks, which have been largely deadlocked since 2019, now appear to have become even more complicated.