Geum Yi

Moon needs to show Biden what is possible to denuclearize N. Korea: Andy Kim

April 26, 2021

South Korean President Moon Jae-in needs to show what exactly is still possible to denuclearize North Korea when he meets U.S. President Joe Biden next month, a U.S. lawmaker said Monday.

Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) also said the U.S. must be prepared to offer some relief to Pyongyang if necessary to advance the North’s denuclearization process.

“We can’t just assume that we can pick up exactly where we left off with the previous summits. So the question is, what’s actually on the table. What is it that we can actually viably see moving forward,” Kim said, referring to U.S.-North Korea summits between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in 2018 and 2019.

“I think that’s why this discussion and the summit that we will have between President Moon and President Biden is so important,” he said in a webinar hosted by the George Washington Institute for Korean Studies.

Moon and Biden are scheduled to hold their first in-person summit in Washington in the second half of May. The exact date has yet to be set.

The captured image shows Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) speaking in a webinar hosted by the George Washington Institute for Korean Studies on April 26, 2021. (Yonhap)

The captured image shows Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) speaking in a webinar hosted by the George Washington Institute for Korean Studies on April 26, 2021. (Yonhap)

The Biden administration has been undergoing a comprehensive review of its North Korea policy, which included consultations with South Korea and Japan.

“I’m hoping that he is able to come to the United States with a greater level of detail and clarity about what is still at the table,” Kim said of Moon’s upcoming U.S. trip.

Moon and his administration helped broker the historic, first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit, held in Singapore in June 2018, when the North Korean leader committed to the denuclearization of his country in exchange for security guarantees.

However, the second Trump-Kim summit, in Hanoi in February 2019, ended without a deal, with North Korea demanding a reciprocal action-for-action approach to its denuclearization, while the former U.S. administration insisted on a one-shot dismantlement of all nuclear ordnance.

Kim insisted the new Biden administration must be prepared to make concessions.

“I do think that the United States should be prepared and could be prepared to be able to provide some temporary relief — whether that’s temporary relief through sanctions or other efforts — try to think about what it is that we are willing to do going forward, to be able to achieve this, while recognizing that some of the steps that we have taken in the past, you know, just haven’t been working,” said Kim.

The Korean-American lawmaker said the upcoming South Korea-U.S. summit may provide an opportunity to reshape the countries’ alliance.

“South Korea isn’t a business partner to squeeze a few extra pennies from. It’s a partner in peace, and that partnership should stem from respect,” he said.

Partly noting the United States was increasingly emphasizing its alliances to deal with, or even counter, aggression from China, Kim argued the U.S. should instead be focusing on offering alternatives to its Asian allies to working with China for their economic growth.

“While there is a debate within South Korea about how to approach their own relationship with China, I believe it’s imperative that the United States doubles down on our efforts to project strength through respect,” said Kim.

“We must project, both in South Korea and through the rest of the world, an American alternative to that aggression and influence. And if China’s approach is zero sum with no room for dissent or disagreement, the American alternative must be respectful of the wants and needs of others,” he added.