David Stilwell, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia on Wednesday that Washington's denuclearization talks with the North are on the right track compared to before.
He added the task at hand is persuading the regime that a security guarantee from the U.S. is worth trading for their stockpile of nuclear weapons.
His remarks come after working-level talks between Pyeongyang and Washington broke down in Stockholm earlier this month and after North Korean media reported earlier this week that Kim Jong-un had made symbolic visits raising anticipation a big announcement could be in the works as the places were frequented by Kim ahead of grand political or diplomatic decisions.
Responding to a question about North Korea's security interests, Stilwell said it's the only thing the regime thinks about and said (quote)"a lot of other things that they throw out there are distracters, leverage in some form."
He said Washington's task is to convince the North Koreans they'll be safer without nuclear weapons but that sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council will remain in effect until the nuclear weapons are gone.
In a report submitted before the hearing, Stilwell said the U.S. is prepared to resume constructive talks on four clauses of the 2018 Singapore Agreement aimed at achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.