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S.Korea dismisses North Korea’s military dialogue proposal
Monument to the Three Charters of Korea's National Reunification by Clay Gilliland on 2013-10-02

S.Korea dismisses North Korea’s military dialogue proposal

Seoul strongly asserts denuclearization first, implying higher standard than the U.S. to start talks
Ha-young Choi
South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) on Monday morning replied to North Korea’s request for military talks by reiterating its denuclearization-first policy.
The MND emphasized North Korea’s responsibility for increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula due to its nuclear and missile tests.
North Korea’s Ministry of People’s Armed Forces made its request on Saturday, suggesting talks to build trust and prevent possible conflicts.
“We clearly conveyed that North Korea should show practical action as well as intent to denuclearize if they sincerely want peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” the MND spokesperson told journalists at the regular press briefing.The ministry defined the proposal as a “camouflaged peace publicity campaign” aimed at disrupting international cooperation on sanctions and “delaying denuclearization.”
The Ministry of Unification echoed this message, while not clarifying what conditions would be necessary for South Korea to accept talks.
Cho Han-bum, senior researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification supported Seoul’s position.
“If the U.S. and North Korea agree to freeze the nuclear program and start talks, which China also hopes for, South Korea has to deal with all the risks, since North Korea is not fully equipped with missile technology to reach the U.S. continent,” Cho told NK News.
Experts previously expected there could be dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea for few months after the Party Congress. The U.S. has allegedly lowered the bar for dialogue from denuclearization to a freeze on activities at the nuclear facilities, while Kim Jong Un has declared North Korea a nuclear state.
North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, the institute in charge of inter-Korean relations, on Sunday asserted the necessity of the talks while dismissing denuclearization as a precondition.
“North Korea hopes to be treated as a nuclear state,” Cho said. “Seoul should call for complete denuclearization with verification measures.”
Another expert, however, said Seoul needs to utilize the proposal from Pyongyang to prevent incidents that may escalate between the two Koreas.
“Regardless of the counterpart’s sincerity, there is a serious possibility of accidental incidents,” Kim Dong-yup, professor at the University of North Korea Studies, said on his Facebook post on Sunday. “It’s concerning that North Korea may conduct incidents which are camouflaged as mistakes.”
Kim cited North Korea’s recent massive water release from Gunnam dam without warning last Wednesday, which prompted a protest from South Korea against North Korea, as well as the upcoming crab season in the Yellow Sea.
The tension between the South and the North around the Northern Limit Line (NLL) has been growing in recent days, as North Korean and Chinese vessels are actively working in the area to catch crabs.
According to the MND’s report to the National Assembly on May 3, there are 140 North Korean vessels and 240 Chinese vessels, twice as many as last year.
(Ha-young Choi is an NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She studied Korean history, mainly focusing on modern Korean history at Korea University. Follow her on twitter @Hy_Choi0826) – NK News