North Korea is through with belching and boasting about its nuclear program to the world's major powers. They've hit a breaking point, apparently, because now they want to talk. North Korean state media carried a statement late Saturday night offering "senior-level talks" with the U.S. over the country's controversial nuclear program. North Korea's National Defense Commission wants "broad and in-depth discussions" about, maybe, one day having "a world without nuclear weapons" that the U.S. seems to love so much. This is great! This is what everyone's wanted since North Korea started threatening everyone under the sun with nuclear strikes at the start of this year. But, of course, there's a catch. "If the US has true intent on defusing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and ensuring peace and security in the US mainland and the region, it should not raise preconditions for dialogue and contact," the statement read. So, that's a thing.
What are the chances this isn't a trick? It's unclear just yet. The U.S. has not responded to the invitation as of Saturday morning. The Associated Press notes North Korea recently took down a bunch of anti-U.S. propaganda that was, perhaps, a signal this offer was coming. But others are pessimistic this gesture is anything more than good press for Pyongyang. Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Seoul's Dongguk University, told The New York Times there isn't "any fundamental change in the North Korean position" with this statement. In fact, this was merely a way for North Korea to subvert South Korea and negotiate around their backs. So, essentially, it was a move designed entirely to anger the South.
This is all coming at a weird moment for North Korea. Earlier this week they cancelled historic nuclear talks with South Korea over a conflict about the level of seniority present at the talks. That was a sign things may not have changed, even though North Korea told China they were ready for nuclear talks with the rest of the world. It should be noted that China, North Korea's biggest economic ally, recently lost patience for the country's nuclear posturing.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.