North Korean officials revealed during recent unofficial talks with U.S. officials in Singapore that Pyongyang is considering abandoning the September 19th 2005 denuclearization agreement it made with the United States.
Foreign Policy staff writer Josh Rogin reported the news yesterday, saying that the North Koreans declared in the Singapore meeting that they are both “no longer interested in resurrecting” the February 29th ‘Leap Day Agreement’ and that there is even an internal discussion going on about “whether or not to scuttle the September 2005 Joint Statement altogether.”
The first position is not a surprise, since it was already set in stone when the North violated the Leap Day Agreement with its April 13th missile launch. Although Pyongyang claimed at the time that it was not conducting a missile launch (since it was aiming to send the ‘Unha-3’ rocket into space for the purposes of launching a satellite in line with the sovereign right of all states), the U.S. government disagreed and refused to deliver any of the 240,000T of aid agreed under the deal.
However, the second position, considering the complete abandonment of the September 19th 2005 Joint Statement, is somewhat more complex. Although the North has clearly not lived up to its commitments under the agreement, and is arguably also attempting to obtain more advanced nuclear weaponry through its pursuit of uranium enrichment, the country has not formally declared the agreement invalid and often calls on other parties to the deal to fulfill their obligations under it.
Regardless, the main aim of the Singapore declaration is to draw the U.S. into discussion with Pyongyang, something which Washington has been extremely unwilling to do since the April long-range rocket launch.
"Their position has shifted. Whereas before, under the Leap Day deal, it was simultaneous actions, as with the September 2005 Joint Statement, simultaneous actions were one of the key aspects. There is now emphasis on unilateral action by the U.S. and then the North Koreans may respond," one source cited in the piece explained.
The U.S. was represented at the informal meeting by six individuals including former U.S. nuclear negotiator Joel Wit and Corey Hinderstein, the vice president of the international program at the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Representing North Korea was Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Han Song Ryol and Choe Son Hui, the deputy director-general of the North American affairs bureau in the DPRK foreign ministry and adopted daughter of Cabinet Prime Minister Choi Yong Rim.