South Korean lawmakers say their Northern neighbor wants a complete lifting of international sanctions banning it from exporting metals and importing refined fuels and other necessities. This is a condition to resume denuclearisation talks with the US.
Pyongyang’s list of demands also includes the easing of sanctions on imports of luxury goods to enable it to import fine liquors and suits. Park Jie-won, the head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) informed Seoul’s legislature about their pesky neighbor’s current demands. His briefing happened one week after both Koreas reinstated hotlines suspended by the North one year ago. The action might well mean Kim Jong Un is willing to engage.
A member of the parliamentary intelligence committee also said that Park underscored North Korea’s insistence that the United States allow mineral exports and other essentials. One would be right to say that expensive liquor and suits are not exactly essential, and that they might just be for Kim and his cronies. That’s precisely what Park reported.
However, Pyongyang’s state-run media kept mum on any developments concerning the request to lift sanctions.
North Korea’s sanction woes are a result of its continuation of its nuclear programs in total defiance of UN resolutions. But, despite conducting half-dozen six nuclear tests since 2006 and test-firing missiles capable of reaching the US mainland, it has neither tested nuclear weapons or intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) since 2017, when it started to prepare for a landmark meeting in Singapore with President Trump.
Park believes adjusting sanctions will force Pyongyang to dialog. President Moon Jae-in has been willing to rebuild trust with his country’s neighbors since the latter reconnected hotlines. North Korea needs around a million tons of rice after releasing wartime reserves in the aftermath of bad weather and the coronavirus.
In 2020, the North Korean economy suffered its biggest contraction in 23 years, according to Seoul’s apex bank. Yet, the biggest signal seems to be that “Rocket man” Kim is willing to talk with his adversaries.