A former North Korean diplomat here on Tuesday said Pyongyang has no intention of giving up nuclear weapons.
Speaking to reporters at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Seoul, ahead of the two-day summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, scheduled for February 27 and 28 in Hanoi, Thae Yong-ho said "there was not enough money in the world" to convince Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programme.
The former diplomat, who worked at the North Korean Embassy in London before defecting to South Korea, said since coming to power in 2011, Kim has laid out a strategy for the international community to present the regime's nuclear programme as essential to the country's survival.
Thae said Kim's plan to justify the nuclear programme had been successful as he convinced the world a nuclear conflict with the US was plausible, Efe news reported.
Kim's strategy, Thae said followed Trump's speech at the UN in September 2017 where he said "completely destroying" North Korea was a major strategic error by Washington.
Thae said Pyongyang was trying to convince Washington if they ease sanctions on the regime, it would eliminate certain aspects of its programme -- without complete denuclearisation -- thereby removing any direct threat to the US.
According to him, if Pyongyang achieves its aim, it would end up being recognised unofficially as a nuclear power by the US, as is the case with countries like Pakistan, India or Israel.
Thae said the Kim regime was ready to dismantle facilities at Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Centre because they were no longer fully functional. He warned of the inherent difficulties in verifying disarmament of a complex that comprised more than 390 buildings to which access was controlled by Pyongyang.
At the first summit in Singapore 2018, the leaders agreed to work towards denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, but no real progress has been made.
Now, the Hanoi summit is expected to help the stagnating talks move forward.
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