Full disclosure, verification key to North Korea denuclearization: ex-nuke envoys

SEOUL, South Korea's former nuclear envoys on Tuesday emphasized North Korea's full declaration of its nuclear arsenal and the international community's thorough verification as key to future negotiations on its denuclearization.

South Korea and the United States are gearing up for their separate summits with North Korea in the next two months, which would be the start of a new process of removing North Korea's nuclear weapons.

Lee Soo-hyuck, Seoul's representative to the six-party nuclear disarmament talks from 2003-2005, said North Korea's complete disclosure of its nuclear weapons and materials should be secured as the first step in the process.

"People often think mistakenly that a nuclear freeze can be easily agreed on. But the past freezes were based on what North Korea declared roughly and unilaterally without reaching a final agreement on a freeze," he said.

"A genuine freeze would mean one that is based upon a full declaration of the locations and sizes of all nuclear weapons and ICBMs," he noted.

Chun Yung-woo, the top six-party negotiator from 2006-2008, echoed his views, calling on the international community to not loosen pressure before a complete verification of its nuclear programs.

"The key challenge in future denuclearization talks with North Korea would be completely verifying whether the North fully declares all of its stock of plutonium and highly enriched uranium, as well as whether the North has any plan to retrieve its capacity (to produce weapons-grade nuclear materials)," he said.

Wi Sung-lac, envoy for the six-party talks in 2009, especially stressed the importance of close coordination between Seoul and Washington in the negotiations with North Korea.

He noted the agreements on the successive summits were made at the top level of their respective governments. But the follow-up negotiations will be much more complicated and fraught with detailed differences among South Korea and the United States.

"Instructions and orders from the United States' diplomatic and security personnel will come to the fore in the process of actual denuclearization negotiations with North Korea, and there could be difficulties in handling the details," he said.

Both sides should make strenuous efforts to fine-tune their stances as the talks proceed and tough issues emerge, he added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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