Honest question: if we can make these kinds of concessions in advance to the North Koreans, then what exactly is the complaint about the Iran Deal? And if your answer is “Obama did it, so it’s automatically bad,” you’re doing this entirely wrong.
U.S. negotiators are no longer demanding that North Korea agree to disclose a full accounting of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs as part of talks this week between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, according to current and former senior U.S. officials.
The decision to drop, for now, a significant component of a potential nuclear deal suggests a reality that U.S. intelligence assessments have stressed for months is shaping talks as they progress: North Korea does not intend to fully denuclearize, which is the goal Trump set for his talks with Kim.
The Trump administration is hoping to get a significant concession from North Korea on Yongbyon, but it’s unclear if the U.S. can offer something in exchange that Kim would accept. North Korea wants sanctions relief, and U.S. officials have advised the president against taking such a step at this stage in negotiations. North Korea has offered to freeze activity at Yongbyon in past rounds of negotiations with previous U.S. administrations.
Current and former U.S. officials note that North Korea has other sites with similar capabilities, however, and they are raising concerns that Pyongyang won’t negotiate on all aspects of its weapons programs if it’s not forced to disclose them.
In recent months researchers have discovered that North Korea has as many as 20 undisclosed ballistic missile sites, according to Beyond Parallel, a project sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a defense think tank. One of the sites is the Sino-ri Missile Base about 130 miles north of the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea, where about 28,000 U.S. troops are stationed.