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Perry says U.S. should focus on moderating N. Korea's nuclear arsenal

All News 15:54 December 02, 2020

By Yi Wonju

SEOUL, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) -- U.S. negotiations with North Korea should focus on moderating its nuclear arsenal and transforming the regime into a normal country less prone to provocations, former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said Wednesday.

Perry made the remark at a virtual conference hosted by the state-run Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS) and Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), saying it would be "mission impossible" to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons.

"My first advice regarding the future negotiation is, if you think you're going to get them to give up their nuclear weapons, you may be putting yourself in 'mission impossible,'" Perry said. "We may get them to restrain it, to lower it, to not brandish it and many other things, but I do not believe we will be successful in getting them to give up their nuclear arsenal."

Perry said the North will "very much" want economic improvements but won't trade its nuclear arsenal for them.

"That doesn't mean we shouldn't negotiate. Anybody should be negotiating a new thing to moderate a nuclear program today and whatever arsenal they have, and we can work to make them a normal nation so that they do not feel the need to take the actions they take which provoke the United States, South Korea and the whole world," he said.

Perry also stressed the importance of South Korea's role in helping North Korea normalize ties.

"(We should) work to make North Korea more like a normal nation. And that will put them in a position to improve economically. The key to that I think is primarily South Korea," he said.

Perry, who served as defense secretary under President Bill Clinton's administration from 1994-1997, is known for his 1999 proposal for a three-stage resolution to North Korea's weapons of mass destruction, the so-called Perry Process.

The proposal included freezing North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and normalizing relations between Pyongyang and Washington.

But the deal between then President Clinton and then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il collapsed when the George W. Bush administration took office in 2001.

Perry said he believes the 1999 negotiations with Pyongyang cannot be "repeated today under the different circumstances."

"It's one thing to persuade the North Korean government to give up nuclear ambitions if they have never developed and built and tested nuclear weapons," he said. "It's quite another thing to get them to agree to give up a nuclear arsenal, which they have and which they're very happy with."

A teleconference between South Korea's state-funded Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS) and Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) is held at a Seoul hotel on Dec. 2, 2020. (Yonhap)
The file photo taken Jan. 9, 2017, shows former Defense Secretary William Perry attending a discussion on North Korea's nuclear and missiles programs in Washington. Perry said shooting down North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missiles over international waters is one of the ways to disrupt their ICBM tests that the U.S. should consider if new negotiations with Pyongyang break down. (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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