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Washington lacks flexibility in approach to North Korea, says Chinese analyst

After Pyongyang staged five nuclear tests the US should have conducted a more flexible policy and avoided pressing for complete de-nuclearization, the expert said

SHANGHAI, May 10. /TASS/. US lacks flexibility in its approach to addressing the Korean Peninsula’s nuclear problem, the Director of the Institute of International Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Liu Ming, told TASS in an interview.

"North Korea’s nuclear problem and Pyongyang’s reluctance to abandon nuclear weapons are the worst obstacle to normalization in the Korean Peninsula. China regards nuclear weapons development as a strategic task of national importance. Moreover, after staging five nuclear tests North Korea believes it has already attained the right to be considered a nuclear power. It hopes that its status will be recognized by Russia, China, South Korea and the United States. If North Korea sticks to this policy, it will become the main obstacle to resolving the problem," he said.

"As for the United States, any obstacle here is quite obvious. The way I see it, Washington lacks flexibility. After Pyongyang staged five nuclear tests the United States should have conducted a more flexible policy and avoided pressing for complete and irreversible de-nuclearization," Liu believes.

"Although the current situation is rather strained, it remains under control for the time being, but the risk of a conflict still lingers. The risk is if North Korea and the United States fail to make mutual concessions, such tensions cannot last indefinitely. Eventually this will evolve into serious confrontation and eventually into an armed conflict," Liu warns.

The new US administration has said more than once that it plans to take a far harder line towards North Korea and considers all ways of dealing with the Korean Peninsula’s nuclear problem, including the use of force. Pyongang has shown no signs it might revise its stance concerning the nuclear program and missile launches. It declares the intention to continue along the path of strengthening its nuclear potential in response to US pressures.

"All these obstacles are rather hard to surmount. North Korea is unprepared to compromise. The United States sticks to its hardline approach, too. It is difficult to expect diplomatic means will bring about an early solution," Liu said.

The situation in the Korean Peninsula took a turn for the worse at the beginning of 2016, when Pyongyang made another nuclear test, then launched a ballistic missile with a space satellite and then held another nuclear test, a second in one year. Also, Pyongyang pushed ahead with its missile launches, carrying out more than 20 of them in 2016. At the beginning of March mass media said North Korea was making preparations for a sixth nuclear test.