Washington.- The United States has a plan that would lead to the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in a year, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said, although U.S. intelligence reported signs that Pyongyang doesn’t intend to fully give up its arsenal.
John Bolton said top U.S. diplomat Mike Pompeo will be discussing that plan with North Korea in the near future. Bolton added that it would be to the North’s advantage to cooperate to see sanctions lifted quickly and aid from South Korea and Japan start to flow.
The State Department said the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim, who led policy negotiations with North Korea before the summit, traveled to the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas on Sunday to resume talks on next steps on implementing the joint declaration Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed in Singapore. In that summit declaration, the North committed “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
The short joint statement did not define how that would be achieved or say when the process would begin or how long it might take. “Our goal remains the final, fully verified denuclearization of the DPRK, as agreed to by Chairman Kim in Singapore,” the department said Monday. DPRK stands for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Bolton’s remarks Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” presented a very ambitious timeline for North Korea to fulfill that commitment.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters three weeks ago that the U.S. wants North Korea to take “major” nuclear disarmament steps within the next two years — before the end of Trump’s first term in January 2021. Despite Trump’s rosy postsummit declaration that the North no longer poses a nuclear threat, Washington and Pyongyang have yet to negotiate the terms under which it would relinquish the weapons that it developed over decades to deter the U.S. Doubts over North Korea’s intentions have deepened amid reports that it is continuing to produce fissile material for weapons.
The Washington Post on Saturday cited unnamed U.S. intelligence officials as concluding that North Korea does not intend to fully surrender its nuclear stockpile. Evidence collected since the June 12 summit in Singapore points to preparations to deceive the U.S. about the number of nuclear warheads in North Korea’s arsenal as well as the existence of undisclosed facilities used to make fissile material for nuclear bombs, according to the report.
It said the findings support a new, previously undisclosed Defense Intelligence Agency estimate that North Korea is unlikely to denuclearize. Some aspects of the new intelligence were reported on Friday by NBC News. A U.S. official told The Associated Press that the Post’s report was accurate and that the assessment reflected the consistent view across U.S. government agencies for the past several weeks. The official was not authorized to comment publicly on the matter and requested anonymity