Just a week after the last high-level commentary carried by KCNA, another one by the same author—Jong Hyon—appeared on December 20. This one has caused a considerable reaction in Western media, though it actually contains little that is new. The focus of attention has been on the commentary’s brief discussion of denuclearization:
When we refer to the Korean peninsula, they include both the area of the DPRK and the area of south Korea where aggression troops including the nuclear weapons of the U.S. are deployed.
When we refer to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, it, therefore, means removing all elements of nuclear threats from the areas of both the north and the south of Korea and also from surrounding areas from where the Korean peninsula is targeted.
This is not a new North Korean position, though observers might be excused for mistaking it for a shift, or the uncovering of something that had heretofore been hidden. Since this July, the focus of the North Korean public position on denuclearization has been on sanctions, and the problem is portrayed as flowing from the oft-stated US policy that sanctions would not be lifted until the North had finished dismantling its nuclear program.
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