The United States has “flexibility” when it comes to engaging North Korea and its nuclear weapons program, as shown by its willingness to seal an accord with Iran, the US Envoy tasked with re-engaging the Hermit Kingdom said Monday in Seoul, South Korea.
Sydney Seiler, the U.S. Special Envoy for the stalled Six-Party Talks (U.S., South Korea, North Korea, China, Japan, Russia), said during a meeting at the South Korean Foreign Ministry: “The recent progress in our efforts at denuclearization with Iran provides an excellent example of the U.S. flexibility and willingness to engage with countries with whom we’ve had long standing differences.”
The talks between the six parties have been suspended since 2009, when Pyongyang left the negotiations.
While Seiler has echoed the White House in acclaiming the talks with Iran as a smashing success, others have argued that the Iran talks have empowered the rogue regime, which remains committed to arming and financing Islamic terrorist groups worldwide.
From 2011 to 2014, Seiler served as Director for Korea at the National Security Council, where he advised the White House on issues concerning North and South Korea. Beforehand, he served in the intelligence community, focusing on Korean issues.
State Department spokesman John Kirby also recently hinted that the U.S. was interested in engaging North Korea in nuclear negotiations. On July 14, he said regarding North Korea: “Progress in the nuclear talks with Iran clearly demonstrates our willingness to engage countries with whom the United States has long-standing differences.”
The U.S. is willing to negotiate with North Korea, provided that their motives are “authentic and credible, get at the entirety of the North’s nuclear program, and result in concrete and irreversible steps towards denuclearization,” Kirby said. “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.”
There remain doubts that either engaging or pressuring the North Korean regime will result in Pyongyang giving up on their nuclear weapons program.
“Even if the international community imposes more sanctions against North Korea, it is unclear whether North Korea will join in talks and give up nuclear power,” Nam Sung-wook, a professor of North Korean studies at Korea University, told VOA.
Current U.S. estimates state that North Korea has between 10-16 nuclear warheads, but Chinese experts have said Pyongyang may have a 40-strong nuke stockpile by 2016.