The US has been asking North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons — but Pyongyang keeps saying no

Inter Korean Press Corp/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un
  • North Korea is reportedly refusing to turn over its nuclear weapons, despite repeated requests from US officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
  • The secretary is struggling to get North Korea to even disclose the size of its nuclear arsenal, Vox reveals.
  • Wednesday’s report is the latest in a string of articles suggesting that North Korea may actually be moving away from denuclearization.
  • Trump administration officials have already started publicly expressing frustration with Pyongyang’s failure to act in accordance with US demands.

Nuclear negotiations with North Korea have reportedly not been going particularly well, as Pyongyang has repeatedly rejected US calls for the North to dump the majority of its nuclear arsenal.

The Trump administration has presented North Korea with a timeline for denuclearization that demands the country turn over 60-70 per cent of its nuclear weapons stockpile to the US or a third party within the six to eight months, Vox reported Wednesday, citing two people familiar with the negotiations.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reportedly struggled to get North Korea to disclose the size of its arsenal, specifically how many warheads it possesses. US intelligence agencies estimate that North Korea could have as many as 60 warheads, according to The Washington Post, but North Korea’s status as one of the hardest intel targets in the world makes it difficult for anyone to be certain what North Korea has up its sleeves.

North Korea is said to have grown tired of Pompeo because he keeps repeating his demands despite constant rejection, refusing to take no for an answer, Vox revealed. After Pompeo’s most recent visit to North Korea in July, the North Korean foreign ministry criticised the American demands, calling them “gangster-like” and “regrettable.”

The Vox report is the latest in a string of reports suggesting that nuclear negotiations with North Korea are not yielding the results the Trump administration expects.

North Korea has in recent weeks been caught producing possible liquid-fuelled intercontinental ballistic missiles at a facility in Sanum-dong,increasing nuclear fuel production at secret enrichment sites, making key infrastructure improvements at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, and expanding a facility in Hamhung dedicated to the development of solid-fuelled ballistic missiles.

A confidential United Nations report leaked last week revealed that North Korea “has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs.”

Not even two months since the Singapore summit where President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for the first time, and this situation appears increasingly bleak and a far cry from “final, fully-verified denuclearization as agreed to by Chairman Kim,” a phrase often repeated by members of the Trump administration, Pompeo in particular.

“Chairman Kim made a commitment to denuclearize,” the secretary recently told reporters, “The world demanded that they do so in the UN Security Council resolutions. To the extent they are behaving in a manner inconsistent with that, they are a) in violation of one or both the U.N. Security Council resolutions and b) we can see we still have a ways to go to achieve the ultimate outcome we’re looking for.”

Others in the administration are expressing their frustration as well. “The United States has lived up to the Singapore declaration,” White House National Security Adviser John Bolton told Fox News Monday, “It’s just North Korea that has not taken the steps we feel are necessary to denuclearize.”

While North Korea remains in possession of its nuclear weapons, the country has dismantled the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, put a moratorium on missile testing, released US hostages, and returned the suspected remains of US war dead. The North does not, however, appear to have started the denuclearization process, which many observers argue was not clearly defined in the landmark Singapore agreement that was noticeably lacking in substance.

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