US expert suggests NK chemical weapons elimination as confidence-building measure for nuclear disarmament

SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) – The elimination of chemical weapons from North Korea could serve as a confidence-building measure to convince the communist nation to abandon nuclear power over time, an American expert said on Wednesday.

Siegfried Hecker, a Stanford University professor known for his direct experience with the Pyongyang nuclear program, made the remarks during a Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) workshop, noting that the North would be more likely to ” agree to withdraw its chemical weapons before agreeing to give up nuclear weapons.

“My point is that we could convince the North Koreans because they’re not going to give up their nuclear weapons at this point because it’s kind of their security blanket,” he said. “But chemical weapons aren’t a deterrent, they’re terrorist weapons, so maybe we could talk to them.”

Hecker stressed the need to revisit the success of the CTR program in the former Soviet Union and apply it to North Korea, noting that the United States had helped the Russians get rid of around 41,000 tonnes of ‘Chemical Weapons.

“So that would be how we could build confidence in the US political spectrum if you could actually see the North Koreans come through and get rid of their 5,000 tonnes or so of chemical weapons,” he said.

Unification Minister Lee In-young also pointed out during his opening speech that the CTR program can provide a model of comprehensive denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula that can ensure transparency and convince the North to come to the negotiating table.

“I believe that by applying the CTR, we can conduct a more verifiable and transparent denuclearization process through the early engagement of participating countries and cooperation between North Korea and countries supporting the dismantling,” a- he declared.

The CTR program was created by American senses Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar in 1991 with the aim of dismantling nuclear weapons inherited by Russia and other former Soviet states after the collapse of the Soviet Union.


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