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Gallucci says he advised N. Korea not to greet new U.S. president with nuclear, missile tests

All Headlines 04:25 February 07, 2017

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) -- A former chief U.S. nuclear negotiator with North Korea said he advised diplomats from Pyongyang to refrain from greeting a new U.S. administration with nuclear or missile tests when he met with them in Malaysia in October.

Robert Gallucci, who negotiated a now-defunct 1994 nuclear freeze deal with the North, held meetings in Kuala Lumpur on Oct. 21-22 with senior diplomats from North Korea, including Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol and Deputy U.N. Ambassador Jang Il-hun.

"When I met North Korean representatives for Track II discussions in Kuala Lumpur, I took the opportunity to advise them that they should avoid greeting a new American administration with new nuclear or ballistic missile tests, or any aggressive moves towards the U.S. or its allies," Gallucci said.

"I suggested that whomever the next president turned out to be, they would not appreciate such a greeting and would undoubtedly respond with appropriate vigor and certainly not with an inclination to negotiate any time soon," he said in a statement prepared for a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing set for Tuesday.

In response, the North Korean diplomats said the communist nation "would have a similar reaction if a new American administration immediately launched new sanctions or made provocative moves in the context of joint military exercises," Gallucci said.

Robert Gallucci

Indeed, the North has refrained from any provocative acts since the November election.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in his New Year's Day address that the country has entered the final stage of preparations to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile, an apparent threat that the North is close to developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the continental U.S.

The North then placed two ICBMs on mobile launchers for apparent test-firing, but later put those missiles back into hiding, a sign that the regime might have opted to wait out until the administration of President Donald Trump puts together its North Korea policy.

Trump, in response to the North Korean leader's threat, vowed to stop the North from mastering such ICBM capabilities, saying that the North's development of a nuclear missile capable of striking the U.S. "won't happen," though he didn't elaborate on how he would stop it.

Gallucci said that the U.S. should not seek anything short of North Korea's complete denuclearization, voicing concern that too many analysts are now arguing that all the U.S. needs is to stop the North Korean nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs from growing.

Seeking such a freeze is "unrealistic and dangerous," he said.

Entering into negotiations with the North without the U.S. declaring its goal of a non-nuclear North Korea would "appear to have the United States legitimize the North's nuclear weapons status, and thus increase the likelihood that before too long South Korea and then Japan would follow suit," Gallucci said.

He also called for making improvement in the North's human rights record a key element of negotiations.

"It may be counterintuitive to see adding human rights to the agenda as increasing the likelihood of accomplishing our security objectives, but things have changed since we did the deal with the DPRK a quarter century ago," he said, stressing that improvement in the North's human rights situation is crucial in improving relations between Washington and Pyongyang.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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