Photo: NTB Scanpix/Terje Bendiksby
Photo: NTB Scanpix/Terje Bendiksby

Ex-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was quoted as saying on Thursday that he doesn’t believe Pyongyang will abandon its nuke weapons program in exchange for a suspension of US joint military exercises with South Korea.

Kissinger, who served under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford during the 1970s, made the comments when he was speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C. on the security challenges facing the US.

A “freeze-for-freeze” under which the US and South Korea would suspend their regular military exercises in exchange for the North halting its nuclear and ballistic missile testing “will not … fulfill this purpose or even advance it,” Kissinger said in a statement posted on the committee’s website.

“North Korea acquired nuclear weapons to assure its regime’s survival; in its view, to give them up would be tantamount to suicide,” he said in other remarks, adding that “An outcome that was widely considered unacceptable is now on the verge of becoming irreversible.”

Kissinger reportedly called for an agreement on Korea’s future through the revival of the now-stalled six-party talks or a separate forum led by the US and China. He said that would be the course to follow in denuclearizing the peninsula.

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