This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire
. The author of this post is Ben Zeisloft
North Korea desires a return to nuclear talks — after sanctions are removed on several items, including liquor and suits for regime officials.
Last week, North and South Korea began the process
of warming diplomatic relations after a sharp decline in 2020.
"The two leaders have explored ways to recover relations by exchanging letters on several occasions, and agreed to restore severed hotlines as a first step for that process,"
Park Soo-hyun, press secretary for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said in a statement. "They have also agreed to regain trust as soon as possible and foster progress on relations again."
The Wall Street Journal reports
that North Korean officials requested the lifting of sanctions upon items popular among the elite as a condition for resuming talks:
- To return to the negotiating table, North Korea wants a relaxation of the ban on mineral imports, which prohibit once-lucrative shipments of coal and iron, and a removal of caps that limit the country to importing up to 500,000 barrels of refined fuel a year.
- Another precondition was Pyongyang's elite needing the ability to import daily essentials, as South Korean lawmakers described them based on the intelligence briefing. The lawmakers cited Western-style suits and liquor as examples.
The outlet adds that North Korea's request to resume talks comes as its economy suffered through COVID-19 and government mitigation efforts:
- During the pandemic, North Korean commerce, illicit or not, has largely ground to a halt. The Kim regime has kept its borders closed since January 2020 over Covid-19 fears.
- The country's economy dipped 4.5% in 2020, the worst decline in more than two decades, according to an annual estimate produced recently by South Korea's central bank, which relies on data gathered by other government departments including Seoul's spy agency. North Korea doesn't publish its own figures.
South Korea's National Intelligence Service recently told lawmakers
that North Korea has broken into wartime rice reserves to feed its population amid a worsening food shortage. Though smugglers typically obtain food through North Korea's border with China when supplies are low, COVID-19 closures have prevented the illicit trade from occurring.
The nation is faced with a drought and a heat wave, which will likely threaten supplies until at least the fall harvest.