Monday, 10 December, 2018

Doubts on North Korean denuclearization shadow Pompeo visit

Did Trump get anything out of Kim Jong Un in Singapore Donald Trump meets Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore. Evan Vucci AP
Sandy Nunez | 06 July, 2018, 22:52

The State Department said Pompeo would leave North Korea on Saturday for Tokyo and on Sunday hold talks on the crisis and regional issues with both Japanese and South Korean officials. Pompeo, who has taken a leading role in negotiations with the North Korean leader, has said it may take years to implement an agreement that would eliminate the nation's nuclear stockpile.

North Korea is considering ways to hide the number of nuclear weapons it has and its secret production facilities, a media report claimed Sunday.

It will be Pompeo's first visit to Pyongyang since Trump and Kim held the summit in Singapore on June 12, when North Korea committed to work toward "complete denuclearization" and the U.S. promised a security guarantee.

Bruce Klingner is with the Heritage Foundation, a research group in Washington, D.C. He said satellite images show that North Korea has expanded a nuclear center and a missile production center.

Last week, a senior defense official said the US would have data points "pretty soon" that would determine if North Korea was "operating in good faith or not".

Some US officials believe that North Korea has about 65 nuclear warheads.

National Security Adviser John Bolton said he wouldn't comment on intelligence matters, but said the administration is "very well aware of North Korea's pattern of behaviour" while negotiating with the US.

The White House refused to confirm or deny reports that Kim's regime has stepped up its nuclear program since the Trump summit.

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"This is why people want North Korea to declare all its facilities up front", Wit said.

Mr Trump's self-professed peace-keeping comes despite reports emerging Kim Jong-un is still developing nuclear weapons as promised, after increased production in nuclear material was discovered across several sites in North Korea.

Mr. Kim made the promise to Mr. Trump in Singapore but the pledge wasn't memorialized in the four-point declaration signed by the two leaders.

The White House said Monday that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would depart for Pyongyang on Thursday for talks on North Korea's nuclear program, after a spate of reports that it may not intend to fully give up its arsenal. "We are going to pursue this, and we will see what happens".

The State Department said Pompeo is to visit North Korea from Friday in his third visit to the country in the past three months.

Evidence collected since the pair's historic meeting points to secret production facilities and the development of methods to conceal weapons creation, implying Pyongyang is aiming to hide plans to continue its nuclear program from the United States, having made contrary, if ambiguous, commitments to Washington.

"I don't think it could be done during Pompeo's visit to Pyongyang this time", he said.

The U.S. administration insists it has a plan for rapid denuclearization of the North and has defended the diplomatic process, which has tamped down tensions after more than a year of missile and nuclear tests and saber rattling that raised fears of a new war. And by the way I really believe North Korea has a tremendous future.