The Trump administration reportedly won’t demand that North Korea disclose all the particulars of its nuclear program for now, dropping the request ahead of the second US-North Korea summit, which kicked off in Vietnam.
The move, which some have argued robs President Donald Trump’s push for the “complete and irreversible” de-nuclearization of any merit, was reported by NBC News, which cited current and former US officials. The officials said that it does not mean that Washington will not seek the full disclosure of all alleged ballistic missile sites and nuclear polygons in the future, but that it has decided to shelve the demand for now.
With the second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in full swing, little is known about the agenda of the talks. It has been speculated profusely that the negotiations will focus on the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, considered to be the main pillar of the North Korean nuclear program.
According to officials cited by NBC, Washington is pinning its hopes on “significant concessions” on the issue of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, responsible for churning out all of the reclusive nation’s plutonium stockpile, as well as highly enriched uranium and tritium.
Previously, the North Korean leader hinted that he is willing to use a potential scaling back of operations at Yongbyon as a bargaining chip to ease the burden of economic and financial sanctions. At an intra-Korean summit with his South Korean counterpart, President Moon Jae-in in September, Kim signed a declaration stating that the North is willing to dismantle the site “as [long as] the United States takes corresponding measures” in accordance with the “spirit” of the first Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore.
However, Washington has so far been reluctant to offer any sanctions relief, drawing anger from Pyongyang and stalling any further progress towards a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.
There is little hope for a breakthrough this time. US officials have reportedly warned Trump against offering anything substantial in return.
Last week, the State Department reaffirmed Washington’s stance on the North Korea sanctions, saying that they would remain in place “until we’ve achieved our final result of fully, finally verified denuclearization.”
While the Trump administration credits its campaign of “maximum pressure” for its rapprochement with Pyongyang, South Korea, a US ally in the region, has been calling on Washington to do its part in solving the Korean deadlock.
Moon said in January that “bold action” from Pyongyang should coincide with the US partially lifting sanctions if the denuclearization efforts are to bear fruit.