Kang Sok Ju, North Korea Diplomat in Nuclear Talks, Dies at 76

Kang Sok Ju, who led North Korea’s talks with the United States over the Asian country’s nuclear-weapons program for most of the last quarter century, has died of cancer. He was 76.

Kang, who served as North Korea’s first vice minister for the foreign ministry and vice premier of the cabinet, died of esophageal cancer on May 20, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

As the chief negotiator for Pyongyang, Kang attended the talks with the United States in the early 1990s to freeze the regime’s nuclear arms programs, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry. Kang couldn’t be actively involved in the latest diplomatic issues for North Korea because of health problems, according to Cheong Seong Chang, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute near Seoul.

Kang’s death comes less than half a year after that of Kim Yang Gon, architect of North Korea’s policy on South Korea. Credited with spearheading North Korea’s dealings with the U.S., Kang leaves a legacy of nuclear brinkmanship that is the hallmark of the regime’s survival tactics.

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