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Bad memories of 'confession diplomacy' could be a reason for N.K.'s refusal to declare nuclear program: expert

All Headlines 18:03 November 22, 2018

SEOUL, Nov. 22 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's refusal to submit a declaration of its nuclear weapons and facilities could be because of concerns that the move could end up inviting international criticism and other unexpected side effects and complicate denuclearization negotiations, a South Korean expert said.

The United States reportedly wants Pyongyang to provide it with a full list of its nuclear weapons and facilities as a step toward their dismantlement. North Korea is refusing to do so, with leader Kim Jong-un reportedly saying that it amounts to giving the U.S. a list of targets for attacks.

Jun Bong-geun, a top security expert at the state-run Korea National Diplomatic Academy, said in a recently published paper that North Korea has bad memories of its diplomatic "confession" backfiring, such as its 2002 admission that the country abducted Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 80s.

At that time, the North hoped the confession, made at a summit between then-leader Kim Jong-il and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, would help make progress in efforts to normalize relations with Japan, but the move ended up worsening Japan's public sentiment about Pyongyang and complicating the normalization negotiations.

Pyongyang could be concerned that coming clean on its nuclear programs could face a similar fate, Jun said.

"North Korea could have determined that if it submits a nuclear declaration, it could face international criticism for possessing nuclear weapons or for failing to submit a full declaration and (international) demands for immediate dismantlement and inspection, leading ultimately to the dialogue phase falling apart," the expert said.

Jun also said that the North, when pressed by the U.S., admitted to running a secret uranium enrichment program in 2002, but the admission led to the unraveling of the 1994 denuclearization deal between the two sides, known as the Agreed Framework, and gave rise to the current nuclear standoff.

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