Sanctions have proven effective in pressuring North Korea to consider surrendering its nuclear ambition, and they should be eased only on strong evidence of denuclearization, not wishful thinking, said H. R. McMaster, the 26th White House National Security Council Advisor of the Trump administration.
North Korea in the past has kept up a pattern of “entering into a period of negotiations to create the illusion of progress and using that illusion to convince us to alleviate the pressure,” McMaster said in a speech at the 19th World Knowledge Forum (WKF) in Seoul on Wednesday.
“We must compete based on our recognition of the world as it is, not as we might like it to be.”
McMaster, a retired United States Army officer with 34 years in the service, was appointed the 26th National Security Advisor under President Trump, a position he held for about a year before his dismissal in March. He is currently a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, a politically conservative think tank.
His comment comes after his former boss curtly rejected the idea of Seoul easing its own unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang.
“They won’t do it without our approval,” U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters when asked about South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha’s comment that Seoul was reviewing whether to remove the sanctions barring inter-Korean economic activities. The sanctions have been in place since the downing of a South Korean warship in 2010.
McMaster defended the United States’ campaign of maximum pressure against North Korea, saying that through this strategy, “we could convince Kim Jong-un that his weapons are making him less secure and that the only way for him to escape this tightening grip is to denuclearize.”
When asked about the intentions of the North Korean leader, he said the world needed to take a “sober” understanding and remain open to the range of possibilities, citing theories that North Korea’s arsenal is being used as a “sword” to break apart the U.S.-South Korea alliance or as “blackmail” to drive the U.S. off the Korean Peninsula.
His comment appeared to address the over-eagerness of South Korean President Moon Jae-in in his attempt to rush into a peace declaration ending the Korean War and improve ties with North Korea.
“(North Korea’s) arsenal constitutes a treasured sword designed to pry apart the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea by making America think twice about their coming to South Korea’s aid in time of war,” McMaster said, quoting a North Korean official.
Kim Jong-un’s very legitimacy rests on the promise of securing victory, which North Korea propaganda clearly states is the reunification of North and South under the Kim regime, he said.
McMaster is visiting South Korea to attend the WKF, an annual forum hosted by Korea’s largest business media Maekyung Media Group.
By Oh Soo-hyun and Kim Hyo-jin
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