Days before North Korea’s Jan. 6 nuclear test, the Obama administration clandestinely agreed to talks that would have formally ended the Korean War, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
As part of the offer, reported to have been made at a U.N. meeting, the U.S. dropped its longstanding prerequisite that North Korea first make efforts to reduce its nuclear arsenal, instead calling for the military dictatorship to make its nuclear weapons program part of the talks. But the test ended those discussions.
North Korea began 2016 on a belligerent footing, even considering the unpredictable pariah state’s history. In addition to the January nuclear test, North Korea launched a rocket earlier this month, resulting in swift pushback from Japan and South Korea, which closed a joint industrial park that provided North Korea with valuable hard currency.
The most recent offer to North Korea was one of several overtures extended by the Obama administration, insiders told the Journal, which happened at the same time the administration was working on an ultimately successful diplomatic outreach to Iran. North Korea first tested a nuclear weapon in 2006, and its nuclear capabilities were confirmed in 2009. North and South Korea have technically been at war ever since the “hot” phase of the Korean War ended in 1953, but the North’s recent nuclear developments have increased the urgency to ultimately resolve the dispute diplomatically.
In addition to its unsanctioned nuclear activity, the North Korean regime is also alleged to operate a system of concentration camps where political prisoners are worked and starved to death. The U.N. released a 2014 report that suggested the regime’s security chiefs and leader Kim Jong Un should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.