(National Sentinel) Denuclearization: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may finally be ready to abandon his nuclear weapons program in exchange for some assurances that do not sound unreasonable, at least for now.
The possibility that Pyongyang could denuclearize arose in talks between leaders in North and South Korea ahead of a summit between the leaders of both countries in the demilitarized zone later this month.
Kim’s acrimonious relationship with most of the world has been due in large part to his development of a nuclear weapons program that he has threatened to use.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that Pyongyang was willing to consider “complete denuclearization” as part of a plan that could restore peace to the peninsula.
Both countries are also eying the possibility of signing a formal peace treaty. They have technically been at war since an armistice was signed in July 1953 ending hostilities.
North Korea has been under crippling sanctions, including from its sole principal ally China, for months following a series of ballistic missile and nuclear tests in 2017.
Moon said that Kim’s demands do not include any dealbreakers that would be seen as stalling a planned summit between Kim and President Donald J. Trump, perhaps by June.
“They have not attached any conditions that the U.S. cannot accept, such as the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea,” he said.
North Korea had included that as a demand in multiple previous preliminary talks about denuclearlization, which stalled those talks.
That isn’t the case this time.
“All they are expressing is the end of hostile policies against North Korea, followed by a guarantee of security,” he said.
Earlier this week Trump announced that CIA Director Mike Pompeo had held secret talks with North Korea in February, around the time the Winter Olympics got underway in South Korea.
Pompeo reportedly met with Kim personally. Trump said Pompeo “had a great meeting with Kim Jong-un and got along with him really well” during his secret trip to Pyongyang.
Trump has nominated Pompeo to be his new secretary of state.
There is still uncertainty over whether Kim would actually give up his nuclear program. It’s likely that any deal the Trump administration would make with North Korea would come with inspections, in order to confirm Pyongyang was keeping its pledge.
Also, the summits come at a time when it is believed in some intelligence circles that Kim is very close to achieving his country’s multi-decade effort at building a viable nuclear weapons deterrent.
That said, no other president has managed to convince a North Korean leader to sit down for a face-to-face meeting to discuss denuclearization except Trump.
Many are crediting his hardline stance and threat of war as convincing the North Koreans to come to the negotiating table.