SEOUL, South Korea's National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang cautioned against persistent skepticism over the prospect of North Korea's denuclearization, saying it takes mutual trust and patience to realize the goal.
In a pre-released script for a security forum in Seoul, Moon also said that due to crippling international sanctions, the communist state, now focusing economic reconstruction, has "no other option" but to renounce its nuclear program.
"We need to throw away the label of the North as one that we cannot trust or engage with and negative perceptions of it," Moon said during the forum organized by the Korea-U.S. Alliance Foundation and Korea Defense Veterans Association.
"Rather than saying that the North would never forgo its nuclear program, we need to forge a diplomatic environment in which the North cannot help but give up its nukes," he added.
Skepticism has been rising among conservatives here and in Washington following the collapse of the second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in late February.
Their much-anticipated meeting failed to produce even a modest deal as the two sides failed to bridge differences over the extent of Pyongyang's denuclearization and Washington's sanctions relief.
Moon stressed trust between Washington and Pyongyang as a critical factor on the path toward the communist state's nuclear disarmament.
"(The two sides) have yet to iron out a comprehensive agreement on the issues of the declaration of (the North's) nuclear program and the dismantlement of nuclear facilities due to a lack of trust," he said.
The speaker also called attention to the North Korean leader's sense of urgency in tackling the economic hardships facing his people, whose continued support is crucial for the political legitimacy of the third-generation hereditary successor.
"As a leader, he has reached a desperate situation where he has to take responsibility for his people's bread-and-butter issues," Moon said. "From the North's perspective, the only way out is to give up nukes and put itself on the railroad of peace on the peninsula."
Moon pointed out, in addition, that the goal of the complete denuclearization of the peninsula will not just rest with regime security in Pyongyang, but also open the way for economic growth in the impoverished state.
"I believe that this will be linked to bold support and cooperation from the international community, including the South and the U.S. to help the North's economic leap forward and development," he said.
Source: Yonhap news Agency