Q&A Session on the 2018 Inter-Korean Summit Pyeongyang Following the Report to the Nation by President Moon Jae-in
QUESTION 1: What was the situation like before holding the joint press conference? Did you receive any additional messages from Chairman Kim Jong Un?
ANSWER 1: As I explained just before, we had many conversations about how to completely denuclearize the Korean Peninsula as well as about the resumption and facilitation of the currently stalled North Korea-U.S. dialogue. However, specific measures for denuclearization or corresponding steps are essentially something that has to be discussed between North Korea and the United States. Thus, there were many discussions between the South and North about the specific contents and wording that should be included in the Pyeongyang Joint Declaration. Beyond that, there was no special difficulty in the overall process of reaching the agreement.
There are some issues that were discussed but not contained in the Joint Declaration. When I visit the United States and hold a summit with President Trump again, I am planning to explain these in detail to the U.S. side.
As you know, the United States wants to deliver its message to North Korea through us and await its answer. Whereas, the North also wants to convey its message to the U.S. side through us. By faithfully fulfilling such roles when meeting President Trump, I intend to facilitate North Korea-U.S. dialogue.
QUESTION 2: What concrete explanation did Chairman Kim Jong Un give about “corresponding measures” in accordance with the U.S.-North Korea Joint Statement mentioned in the Pyeongyang Joint Declaration? Was this part considered to be a declaration to end the Korean War?
ANSWER 2: As I said just before, what should be discussed in detail between North Korea and the United States includes measures that the North should take for complete denuclearization and their order of phased implementation as well as corresponding measures the United States should take and their stages. For this reason, they were not meant for this Pyeongyang Joint Declaration. Even though we verbally exchanged our opinions, it seems inappropriate to unveil them here.
QUESTION 3: Can you tell us in detail what those corresponding measures from the United States are? What do you think President Trump is willing to give if he were to provide North Korea corresponding measures?
ANSWER 3: First and foremost, there was a North Korea-U.S. agreement in the Joint Statement signed at the Singapore Summit. It stipulates that North Korea should take measures toward complete denuclearization and repatriate the remains of fallen U.S. soldiers. In response, the United States should put an end to hostile relations and provide security assurances to the North, thereby establishing new U.S.-North Korea relations. Through this, they intend to establish a peace regime. Such measures have to be taken in a balanced manner between North Korea and the United States. If North Korea continues to take denuclearization measures and the United States also ends hostile relations, assures its security and takes action to create new North Korea-U.S. relations accordingly, the North will be willing to swiftly take additional denuclearization steps.
QUESTION 4: What optimistic prospects have you returned with regarding declaring an end to the Korean War together with concerned parties, including the United States, within this year?
ANSWER 4: It seems that there are slightly different concepts associated with the same phrase: “declaration to end the Korean War.” Our concept of the declaration to end the War refers back to the promise made 65 years ago, when the Armistice Agreement was signed: that an end to the War would be declared at the earliest date possible within that year and a peace treaty would be concluded. That promise has stood unfulfilled for the past 65 years. From this perspective, the concept we have for a declaration to end the Korean War is this: a political declaration to end the War should be made first, and it should be regarded as a starting point for peace negotiations to conclude a peace treaty, and when the North achieves complete denuclearization, the peace treaty should be signed and simultaneously North Korea-U.S. relations can be normalized.
There are different views on the concept of declaring an end to the Korean War. Some say the declaration would have an effect of terminating the Armistice system, for example, dissolving some part of the status of the United Nations Command or creating pressure surrounding a withdrawal of the U.S. forces stationed in the South as if it were similar to a peace treaty.
I believe that, most likely because of the different views, there seem to be disagreements over the timing of declaring an end to the Korean War. Through this visit to the North, I confirmed that Chairman Kim understood the concept of declaring an end to the War in the same way I explained just now.
Explaining it again, declaring an end to the War is a political statement aimed at ending the War now and terminating hostile relations. Together with the declaration, negotiations to strike a peace treaty would begin. A peace treaty would be reached at the final stage in which complete denuclearization is fulfilled. Until then, the existing Armistice System would be maintained.
So, it will in no way affect the status of the U.N. Command, the necessity for the U.S. forces stationed in the South or other related matters. Those issues can be discussed again after a complete peace treaty is signed and peace is established. Particularly, regarding the issue of the U.S. forces, they are stationed in the South pursuant to the ROK-U.S. alliance, and thus [their status] depends entirely on a decision made between South Korea and the United States, regardless of declaring an end to the War or a peace treaty. Chairman Kim agreed on this issue, and if the concepts surrounding declaring an end to the War are straightened out, I believe that an agreement to end the War can be processed more quickly among the countries concerned.
Our goal is to declare an end to the War within this year, and I intend to discuss it again with President Trump at a summit.
QUESTION 5: Do you believe that the Pyeongyang Joint Declaration’s agreement on denuclearization will help create sufficient conditions for declaring an end to the Korean War? Chairman Kim said he would pay a return visit to Seoul within this year if possible, and do you intend to pursue declaring an end to the War during his visit?
ANSWER 5: I believe that if possible, it would be desirable to declare an end to the War at an early stage. As you know, North Korea completely dismantled the nuclear test site in Punggye-ri. Chairman Kim said that since the North has entirely destroyed its only nuclear test site, it is in a situation in which it can no longer conduct nuclear tests, and that this can be verified at any time.
In addition, if the North discarded the missile engine test site and the launch pad in Dongchang-ri at this time, it could no longer launch a missile or engage in such work to further advance its missile capability. Moreover, Chairman Kim clarified that if corresponding measures are taken, he will be willing to permanently dismantle the nuclear facility in Yeongbyeon, the symbol of North Korea’s nuclear development.
If so, I believe there is a need on the part of the United States or South Korea to take reciprocal measures to end hostile relations with North Korea.
I believe that declaring an end to the War is, so to speak, a political statement to cease hostile relations now, and it is a way to build trust with the North. Of course, declaring an end to the War would not be final. I believe that if various corresponding measures are taken for the North, beginning with declaring an end to the War, this will further expedite such actions as its complete denuclearization.
QUESTION 6: Do you consider that the level of the agreement on denuclearization in the Pyeongyang Joint Declaration meets the criteria you mentioned when you said North Korea needed to take steps to move toward giving up its existing nuclear arsenal? What preparation and work do you plan to do to substantially implement the highly valued agreements in the Declaration?
ANSWER 6: Once North Korea dismantles the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and then demolishes the missile engine testing facility and missile launch pad, there will be no way for any additional nuclear testing, missile launches or such activities to be carried out thereafter. In other words, it can be said that future nuclear capabilities will be destroyed. Going a step further, permanently closing the Yeongbyeon nuclear facility is tantamount to saying that activities such as the production of more nuclear materials or nuclear weapons have also been suspended.
Further on, of course, other nuclear facilities must permanently be closed as well. And any nuclear weapons or missiles already produced, including long-range missiles, must be dismantled in succession for denuclearization to be complete. I am saying this is the appropriate course of action that must be taken. Progress in this regard, as I just described, should be matched by the U.S. side as well to put an end to hostile relations with North Korea and guarantee North Korea’s security. In this way, reciprocal measures need to be taken in stages.
I believe that North Korea is making great, important strides by suggesting that in addition to dismantling the Dongchang-ri missile engine testing facility and launch pad, it will permanently close the Yeongbyeon nuclear facility. Any future progress beyond this, I believe, is ultimately a task to be worked out through discussions between North Korea and the United States.
There is just one reason why the provisions in the June 15 South-North joint declaration in 2000 and the October 4 South-North summit declaration in 2007 were not implemented—namely, the change of administration. I believe the subsequent administrations lacked the will to enact the June 15 declaration and October 4 declaration, and therefore these agreements were not adequately followed up.
Perhaps what you were trying to get at just now is not so much about this. Such questions should rather be directed at why past denuclearization agreements reached via the Six-party Talks, including the joint statements of September 19 in 2005 and February 13 in 2007, came to naught. However, I believe the agreements resulting from the Six-party Talks differ fundamentally from the denuclearization agreement this time around. Past denuclearization agreements were the result of working-level negotiations. In addition, verification was required at each step in the nuclear dismantlement process, while concurrent execution of the next step was under discussion. Because the process was designed like this, things could go awry from differences in opinion over having verifications or inspections at anytime.
However, the denuclearization agreement this time is not like this. The U.S. President and North Korean leader have met for the first time ever, and the agreement has been reached between the two heads of state, proceeding in a so-called “top-down” manner. The pledge to the global community is coming from the North Korean and U.S. heads of state, so I believe that it will be implemented without fail.
Of course, impasses may arise at any time in the discussions during the working level negotiations for enacting the agreement, and postponements can occur. For this reason, a second summit meeting is needed. If the complications are largely resolved during the second summit meeting, I believe this denuclearization agreement can proceed faster.
Let me elaborate on my opinion just a little. The Singapore Declaration itself serves as a theoretical agreement. The details on the process for moving toward denuclearization must be worked out through working-level negotiations, but in the bigger scheme of things, isn’t it the agreement between the two heads of state that is needed? Moreover, I believe denuclearization will be allowed to proceed more effectively if the timeframe for denuclearization is decided on in a way that allows working-level negotiations to proceed in step with that agreement as well as if the two sides broadly agree on the next measures that that they must then exchange.