North Korea wants no-strings-attached 'complete denuclearisation' - Moon Jae-in

Nortk Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in.
Nortk Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in. Photo credit: Getty

North Korea wants "complete denuclearisation" of the Korean peninsula and is not seeking conditions such as US troops withdrawing from the South first, South Korean President Moon Jae-in says.

Mr Moon said big-picture agreements about normalisation of relations between the two Koreas and the United States should not be difficult to reach through planned summits between North and South, and between the North and the United States, in a bid to rein in the North's nuclear and missile programs.

"North Korea is expressing a will for a complete denuclearisation," Mr Moon told reporters on Thursday.

"They have not attached any conditions that the US cannot accept, such as the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea. All they are expressing is the end of hostile policies against North Korea, followed by a guarantee of security."

North Korea has defended its weapons programs, which it pursues in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, as a necessary deterrent against perceived US hostility. The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

North Korea has said over the years that it could consider giving up its nuclear arsenal if the United States removed its troops from South Korea and withdrew its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from South Korea and Japan.

South Korea announced on Wednesday (local time) that it is considering how to change a decades-old armistice with North Korea into a peace agreement as it prepares for the North-South summit this month.

Reclusive North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because the 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Mr Moon also said he saw the possibility of a peace agreement, or even international aid for the North's economy, if it denuclearises.