On Monday, a historic meeting took place between the Koreas, where Kim and a South Korean delegation met for the first time to talk over denuclearization, with Kim specifically expressing the desire to discuss the tricky subject with the U.S. The Blue House said on Tuesday that North Korea would hold off on nuclear and missile tests during the mediations.
“Chairman Kim said that even denuclearization could be among the agenda items for talks between North Korea and the US,” a Blue House spokesman said, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap. “What drew our attention, in particular, is that he made clear that achieving denuclearization is his father's dying wish and that it has not been changed at all.”
He added, “Kim also didn't specify anything special from South Korea or other countries in return for the North coming to dialogue but expressed an intent to be treated seriously as a counterpart for talks.”
Kim amended his country's constitution, including the possession of nuclear weapons, and has staunchly fought any attempts to get rid of the country’s weapons. This has kept the U.S. and North Korea at odds with each other, especially as the U.S. has asserted that it will either denuclearize North Korea “by force or diplomacy,” per Business Insider. Denuclearization has become the Korean Peninsula’s largest obstruction toward peace since 1994.
“The North side clearly affirmed its commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and said it would have no reason to possess nuclear weapons should the safety of its regime be guaranteed and military threats against North Korea removed,” Chung Eui-yong, the director of South Korea's National Security Office, declared, according to Yonhap.
He continued, “In addition, the North promised not to use not only nuclear weapons but also conventional weapons against the South.”
Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have been high, as North Korea has increased its nuclear and missile tests, and the U.S. assembled its most severe sanctions package against the nation. President Trump has also often taken to social media to make highly unconcealed threats against the country.
However, it seems South Korea has taken the higher road: under a more liberal political party, the country has offered several overtures to create peace with its neighbor, including the Pyongyang summit on Monday, involving North Korea in the Pyeongchang Olympics, and holding talks before the Olympics in the North Korean truce village of Panmunjom.
Looking for denuclearization is surprising from North Korea, especially after the country has frequently asserted that its nuclear arsenal is sacrosanct, and has maintained its right to strike South Korea’s U.S. forces at any moment.
Denuclearization talks have been had before, but nothing ever panned out. US and South Korean leaders have contended that “verifiable denuclearization” was necessary in order for a greater dialogue regarding peace or reunification between the two Koreas could occur.
Kim is now prepared to meet South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, which will be the first time Kim has ever met with another head of state, according to Yonhap. Business Insider reported that the two countries have been at odds since 1950, but Kim is now prepared to “rapidly take practical steps” toward peace and reunification.
Of course Trump can never leave anything alone, and went on Twitter to share the news, writing, “Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea. For the first time in many years, a serious effort is being made by all parties concerned. The World is watching and waiting! May be false hope, but the U.S. is ready to go hard in either direction!”