WASHINGTON -- The United States remains committed to achieving North Korea's denuclearization and will never accept the regime as a nuclear weapons state, US officials were quoted as telling South Korean lawmakers Tuesday.
The position was stated by US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Korea and Japan Marc Knapper during a meeting with a delegation of the conservative main opposition Liberty Korea Party, according to Rep. Lee Ju-young, who is leading the team.
"There is no change in the position that (North Korea's) denuclearization must be achieved," Lee, who is also deputy speaker of the National Assembly, told reporters after the meeting, referencing the US goals of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization and final, fully verified denuclearization.
"Under no circumstances will (the US) accept (North Korea) as a nuclear weapons state," he added of the US officials' comments.
Washington has sought to dismantle Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program in exchange for sanctions relief and security guarantees, but negotiations have stalled amid wide gaps over how to match their steps.
In protest of the impasse, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un threatened in a New Year's message to take "shocking actual action" and soon reveal a "new strategic weapon."
Lee said the US side gave his delegation assurance that South Korea can have full confidence in the US nuclear umbrella.
He also said that his team, including Rep. Kang Seok-ho, chief of the party's overseas Koreans' affairs committee, and Rep. Yoo Min-bong, chief of its international affairs committee, delivered a letter addressed to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from party chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn. (Yonhap)