US Willing to be as Flexible With N. Korea as Iran

US envoy says Obama administration hopes Pyongyang will take note of Iran nuclear agreement and return to negotiating table.

Ari Soffer ,

Kim Jong-Un (file)
Kim Jong-Un (file)

Fresh from forging a controversial deal with Iran, which critics have blasted as a capitulation to Tehran's demands, the Obama administration is willing to be just as "flexible" with North Korea, a US government envoy has said.

Sydney Seiler, US special envoy for now-defunct six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program, told Reuters Monday he hoped Pyongyang would take note of the Iran deal and return to the negotiating table.

"The Iran deal demonstrates the value and possibilities that negotiation bring," Seiler said.

"It demonstrates again our willingness, when we have a willing counterpart, and it demonstrates our flexibility when the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] makes a decision that it wants to take a different path."

Unlike Iran, North Korea already has nuclear weapons, so the talks would be focused on it giving up the arsenal it already possesses and dismantling its active nuclear weapons program. However, the tightly-controlled dictatorship has point-blank refused to enter into talks over its nuclear program, insisting that its nuclear arsenal is vital for "deterrence" against South Korea and western powers.

In the past North Korea did take part in talks, and even signed a deal with western states, led by then-US President Bill Clinton.

Clinton hailed the 1994 deal - in a speech which bears an uncanny resemblance to Obama's address following the agreement he led with Iran - only for North Korea to pocket western concessions and build a nuclear arsenal anyway.

Since then, North Korea claims to have carried out a series of nuclear tests - the most recent of which took place in 2013 - and has upgraded its long-range missile launching platforms, in what experts believe is likely a preparation for Intercontinental Ballistic Missile tests.