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North Korea Offers Friendship With One Hand, Abuse With The Other

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Thursday, May 19th, 2016
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Pyongyang says nuclear programme has given it the upper hand and predicts re-unification despite Seoul’s ‘agitation’

North Korea has announced it is reaching out a “warm helping hand” to its sworn enemy in the south, suggesting that the success of its nuclear weapons programme means re-unification between the two Koreas in close at hand.

Pyongyang issued a statement on Tuesday saying it is ready to discuss South Korea’s suggestions to reunify the peninsula “with an open mind”.

The statement claimed that the country’s nuclear weapons programme had “changed the [DPRK]’s status and role permanently”, adding that the future of the peninsula and inter-Korean relations were in North Korea’s hands.

“While our newly presented unification policy is the most reasonable and fair unification policy, if the South Korean government comes up with its own suggestions – based on autonomy and unity of the people (minjok) – we are ready to discuss them with an open mind,” the government said in Tuesday’s edition of the state newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

The editorial, entitled a “Joint statement by the DPRK’s government, parties and organisations”, claimed to represent the view of all North Koreans.

“The wind gets rougher and the road gets steeper the closer you are to the mountaintop,” it said, adding, somewhat counter-intuitively, that “today’s unprecedentedly frigid inter-Korean relations and challenges from both domestic and international anti-unification forces show that the goal of unification is near at hand.”

The statement could not resist the odd jibe, saying that the North’s interest in “paralleling South Korea’s suggestion” to improve relations was despite the fact that the suggestion comes from a “person who has been walking the path of anti-unification”.

It did not mention any names, but did include criticisms of South Korean president Park Geun-hye’s unification policy as the “root of the agitation of the conflict between the two Koreas”.

 

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The South Korean government said last week that the door to dialogue with North Korea was open, but insisted that Pyongyang must “first prove a sincere intent for denuclearisation … and stop its provocations”.

Pyongyang’s latest statement directly confronted this call for denuclearisation. “In fact, our possession of nuclear weapons has nothing to do with inter-Korean relations and it is South Korea who will be cornered if the matter (of nuclear weapons) takes a greater role in future relations,” the statement said.

“Today, our republic’s status and role have changed permanently and our status – as a nuclear power state – remains adamant no matter whether one accepts that fact or not.”

The statement ended with Pyongyang claiming that it holds the initiative on the future of the Korean Peninsula and regional trends, urging South Korea to accept the “warm helping hands of good will and generosity”.

“If not, it is obvious what will happen … as stated, there are two ways of achieving unification. One is a violent way and the other is peace … we are ready for both.”

Aidan Foster-Carter of the University of Leeds said he would welcome a new initiative of reconciliation from Pyongyang, but added that the statement did not offer anything “remotely acceptable” to anyone.

“I don’t see anything really new here, nor anything Seoul can possibly accept,” Carter said. “They say the future is in North Korea’s hands. That is incredibly patronising – and also delusional, given North Korea’s economic problems and diplomatic weakness.”

A South Korean researcher also cast doubt on the sincerity of the offer. “In the statement, Pyongyang gave its own ‘preconditions’ for improving relations with Seoul,” said Eom Sang-yoon of the Sejong Institute. This precondition, Eom added, was to exclude foreign parties.

Seoul also has its own precondition of Pyongyang’s denuclearisation before any conversation. With these two contrasting preconditions, this statement will simply be turned down by both Seoul and Washington.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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