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N.K. could prepare 'Plan B' if U.S. continues unilateral demands: ex-minister

All Headlines 16:44 December 14, 2018

SEOUL, Dec. 14 (Yonhap) -- North Korea could decide to live under sanctions, rather than seeking rapid economic growth through a nuclear deal with the United States, if Washington insists on keeping sanctions until Pyongyang's denuclearization, a former unification minister said Friday.

Lee Jong-seok made the remark during a conference in Seoul, saying North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wants to rebuild the country's economy and that's why he decided to pursue a nuclear deal with the U.S., but he's unlikely to make "unilateral concessions" to the U.S. just for sanctions relief.

"While I think the possibility is low for North Korea to break off from the denuclearization negotiations, I do think that it could prepare a Plan B," Lee said, warning that the nuclear talks could be trapped in a long-term deadlock.

He was referring to the current stalemate in the two countries' nuclear talks as North Korea wants sanctions relief in exchange for the denuclearization steps it has taken so far, while the U.S. insists on keeping sanctions until the North takes further steps.

"If it cannot take a step to prosperity through sanctions relief, the North would shift to a path that would just guarantee three meals a day (for its people), a path that enables basic survival," he said.

"It is unlikely for Pyongyang to make unilateral concessions to the U.S. for sanctions relief," he said. "President Donald Trump needs to ease sanctions if certain actions are taken (by the North)."

On Thursday, North Korea blamed the U.S. for the impasse in their talks through a commentary issued by its official news agency, urging Washington to take corresponding steps for its denuclearization measures.

In this file photo, taken on Nov. 1, 2018, former Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok speaks during a lecture in Seoul. (Yonhap)

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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