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N. Korea could test

Andrew Kim speaks to Korean reporters at Stanford University on Feb. 22. Yonhap
Andrew Kim speaks to Korean reporters at Stanford University on Feb. 22. Yonhap

By Park Si-soo

Andrew Kim, former head of the CIA's Korea Mission Center, said North Korea would test-fire "one or two more missiles" at times selected by its leader Kim Jong-un and then return to the negotiation table with the United States to discuss denuclearization.

Kim made the remark during a panel discussion on the sidelines of an annual intelligence meeting at Westin Chosun Hotel in Seoul, Wednesday, hosted by the Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS), a think tank under the National Intelligence Service of Korea.

The Korean-American negotiated the agenda and other details with the North in the lead-up to the historic June 12 summit between Kim and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in Singapore. He stepped down ahead of the two leaders' second meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Kim said the North's future test-firings, if any, would be to satisfy "internal needs," not for the widely speculative reason of "shaking up the negotiation framework" with the U.S.

"If the last test was successful, no more test-fires would happen," he said. "But if it failed, it would fire more during a certain period of time. In my view, one or two more test-firings are possible, and then (it) would return to the negotiation table."

He said "lack of trust" was the biggest obstacle stopping the talks moving forward. But another problem is that the North and U.S. have "different ideas of building trust."

"From the U.S. perspective, to become a new friend, they need to meet and talk frequently," Kim said. "North Korea engages in talks only when it needs it. When it doesn't need talks, the North avoids it. From heavy to light issues, the two sides need to communicate and deepen their understanding of each other in various ways and manners."

Kim said the denuclearization process "has come this far" thanks to Kim's commitment to denuclearization, Trump's corresponding commitment and that of South Korean President Moon Jae-in as a middleman.

Nevertheless, he said the established "top-down" negotiation process for pre-summit bilateral talks would see changes in terms of format because the two sides have found its limit.


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