Moments after the Obama administration and world powers agreed to a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran, State Department officials said Tuesday that the United States was ready to re-engage North Korea in nuclear negotiations.
“Progress in the nuclear talks with Iran clearly demonstrates our willingness to engage countries with whom the United States has long-standing differences,” and that includes the tyrannical regime in North Korea, State Department spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday, according to a report from South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
Kirby said the U.S. was willing to negotiate with the despotic leadership of North Korea, “provided that they are authentic and credible, get at the entirety of the North’s nuclear program, and result in concrete and irreversible steps towards denuclearization.”
The State Department spokesperson said that a deal with North Korea has been a priority for U.S. policy, according to reports.
“Denuclearization remains our top priority. We remain in close contact with the other Five-Party partners on our shared goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner,” Kirby added.
China, an ally of Kim Jong-un’s Hermit Kingdom, has similarly called for negotiations akin to the Iranian nuclear deal, which would see sanctions removed from North Korea.
China’s state-run People’s Daily wrote that the Iranian deal sends a “message of hope” and encourages diplomatic measures rather than threats, Reuters reported.
Negotiations between the United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea regarding the latter’s nuclear weapons program have not occurred since 2009, when Pyongyang left the talks indefinitely.
Failed nuclear talks between the U.S. and North Korea during the Clinton administration allowed Pyongyang to receive billions of dollars in free cash and become a nuclear-armed power without issue.
U.S. analysts estimate that North Korea currently has around 10-16 nuclear warheads. Chinese estimates, however, say that Pyongyang may have a 40-nuke stockpile by 2016.