Nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea are unlikely to resume this year as chances are low that Washington will come up with major concessions ahead of its upcoming presidential election, an expert said Friday.
Kim Dong-yub, a professor of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University, made the case during a seminar in Seoul, adding that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to have calculated this when he warned of a protracted deadlock in US-North Korea relations in an address to a key party meeting last month.
"It is difficult to foresee US-North Korea talks restarting as the US shifts focus to its upcoming presidential election," the professor said. "North Korea has made it clear that it will not return to the negotiations unless US presents new proposals."
The current suspension in talks doesn't mean the North ruling out the possibility of a resumption of talks with the US, however, as Washington remains the most attractive dialogue partner for Pyongyang, he said.
"Without the US, it is hard for the North to be fully accepted as a normal member of the international community," the professor said.
Yet, even if the talks resume next year, the professor warned, North Korea would be back with a bigger nuclear arsenal, making it more difficult for the two sides to reach a deal.
"North Korea may use its increased nuclear arsenal to demand negotiations focused on nuclear arms reduction rather than denuclearization," he said. "The negotiations will only become more difficult the more time passes."
The denuclearization talks have been stalled since the second summit between Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump collapsed without a deal in Hanoi in February amid wide differences over the scope of Pyongyang's denuclearization measures and Washington's sanctions relief.
The two countries held their last working-level talks in Stockholm in October, but the meeting also broke down, with Pyongyang accusing Washington of failing to come up with a new proposal. (Yonhap)