North Korea defector says Kim Jong Un unlikely to denuclearize

The North Korean leader could bring war if he suspected plans of a pre-emptive strike, said Thae Yong-ho.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Feb. 9, 2017 at 9:57 AM
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Feb. 9 (UPI) -- The senior North Korea diplomat who defected to the South from Pyongyang's embassy in London said it is unlikely North Korea would pursue the path of denuclearization, owing to "internal factors" of the regime and U.S.-South Korea requirements for engagement.

Thae Yong-ho, who has been providing the local press with revelations about the North Korean leadership since his defection, said Kim Jong Un could agree to a nuclear freeze but on the condition of suspended sanctions and an end to military exercises.

Speaking at a conference on regional security held by the government-run Institute for National Security Strategy, Thae said it's likely neither Washington nor Seoul would meet those demands, local news service Money Today reported Thursday.

Even if North Korea agrees to a nuclear freeze, a final stage of denuclearization may not be achieved because of Kim's beliefs.

"Whether it's Kim Jong Un or Kim Jong Il, they have seen the last days of other dictators," Thae said. "[They saw] there are no dictators who survive."

Thae added Kim is not afraid to bring about a cataclysm to the peninsula with a "If I die, you die too" frame of mind, should he be convinced the United States and South Korea are planning a pre-emptive strike.

North Korean officials who object to the nuclear program are quickly eliminated, Thae said.

The high-profile defector also said the 1994 Agreed Framework, a nuclear freeze agreement reached between the United States and North Korea, was not a deal North Korea believed in, local news service EDaily reported.

Rather, the deal was seen as a way for Kim Jong Il to "buy time and postpone a U.S. strike," while the former leader prepared a road map to stabilize North Korea in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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