North Korea will not be compensated for return to dialogue

North Korea will not be compensated for returning to peace talks and will need to take concrete steps to negotiate the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a State Department official said on Thursday.

James Zumwalt, the acting principal deputy assistant secretary of the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs made the remarks on Thursday in Washington before the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific and Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade. Zumwalt said that while North Korea recently reached out to its counterparts in the Six-Party process, there were no concrete steps to suggest North Korea is ready to negotiate on denuclearization.

"Despite the DPRK's recent overtures in the region and outreach to counterparts in the Six-Party process, we have yet to see concrete steps suggesting that North Korea is prepared to negotiate on the key issue of paramount concern: the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Zumwalt said. "We continue to coordinate closely with the ROK, as well as other Six-Party partners, on North Korea policy."

Zumwalt said the U.S. will not reward North Korea for either the absence of bad behavior or a return to dialogue.

"The United States remains committed to authentic and credible negotiations to implement the September 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks and to bring North Korea into compliance with its international obligations through irreversible steps leading to denuclearization," Zumwalt said. "We will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state, nor will we reward the DPRK for the absence of bad behavior, or compensate the DPRK merely for returning to dialogue. We have also made clear that U.S.-DPRK relations cannot fundamentally improve without sustained improvement in inter-Korean relations, which we support."

Zumwalt said the U.S. will continue to stand with its ally, South Korea, in the face of North Korean provocations.