Despite North Korea’s decision to release 3 US hostages and close its (already ruined) nuclear test site at Punggye-ri, the US wants more assurances from Kim Jong Un that the North is serious about denuclearization.
According to RT and Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper, the US is demanding that the North ship some of its nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles out of the country over the next six months.
During its clandestine negotiations, the US has made it clear that it expects the North to start getting rid of some of its nuclear arsenal – its warheads and the ballistic missiles it has developed – within the next six to 12 months.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo conveyed the US’s demand that the North be prepared to start transferring its nukes during his May 9 meeting with Kim.
President Donald Trump said Thursday during a press conference with NATO Commander Jens Stoltenberg that either the meeting will happen, or it won’t and the US will move on to “next steps.”
“Whatever happens, happens – either way we’re going to be in great shape,” Trump said.
Trump noted that relations with North Korea have seemingly improved following Kim’s meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“I think that things have changed a little bit when they met with China. They met a second time, as you know – Kim Jong Un had a second meeting with China, which was a little bit of a surprise meeting,” Trump said.
Trump added that Kim “will get protections that will be very strong.”
North Korean officials were angered by John Bolton’s remark during an appearance on the Sunday shows that the US is seeking a “Libya Model” with North Korea – referring to the fact that Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi was forced from power just eight years after making a deal with the US to give up his nukes.
Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi was forced from power in 2011 with the help of NATO forces just eight years after striking a deal with the U.S. to give up his nuclear weapons.
Trump’s remarks come a day after North Korea called off a high-level intra-Korean meeting that was meant to be a preamble to a June 12 summit between the US and the North. The North has also threatened to call off the summit with the US.
Pyongyang has made it clear that it’s not interested in unilateral denuclearization. Kim also wants guarantees that the North won’t be left totally defenseless against foreign aggression.
Despite a historic meeting where South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim hashed out a framework for ending the Korean war, the US’s decision to carry on with joint military exercises has unnerved the Koreans.
Meanwhile, a Pentagon report revealed that North Korea is quickly finding alternatives for securing its national defense. The country’s cyber-warfare capabilities are quickly improving, according to a Pentagon report.
Here’s a summary of the report’s other findings:
North Korea offsets its “resource shortages, and dated equipment by maintaining a large, forward-positioned force” that gives it the capability to initiate an attack against South Korea with “little to no warning.”
North Korea maintains “one of the world’s largest, albeit aging, submarine forces, with around 70 attack-, coastal-, and midget-type submarines.”
The regime “sees itself beset by internal and external threats” as “it does not trust regional actors, including China and Russia, nor does the regime trust its own population.”
North Korea’s population “is growing less reliant on the state because it no longer provides basic goods and services outside the capital and major cities” as the “regime continues to give top priority to ideological indoctrination, intimidation, and preferential treatment of the privileged elite in Pyongyang and of select military units.”
Kim Jong Un’s reclusive regime possesses “increasingly sophisticated cyber warfare capabilities” that are “capable of damaging and disruptive cyberattacks,” according to assessment, which was distributed to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
The 23-page report represents the most current public assessment of the major nuclear and non-nuclear threats posed by North Korea. Attacks like “WannaCry” and other hacks are becoming a crucial source of foreign currency for the North, particularly given more strict Chinese enforcement of international sanctions, according to Bloomberg.