- The Trump administration is considering a deal with North Korea that merely asks it to freeze its nuclear program rather than dismantle it, The New York Times reported Sunday.
- Successive US administrations have demanded full nuclear disarmament by North Korea. Trump officials at one point set the bar at “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.”
- A spokesman for the US State Department denied The Times’ report.
- President Donald Trump took part in a historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday in which Trump briefly entered North Korea – the first sitting US president to do so.
- Despite a series of high-profile summits with Kim, Trump has little concrete progress to show from engaging with North Korea.
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The Trump administration is considering a nuclear deal with North Korea that would ask it to freeze its nuclear weapons program, dropping prior demands to dismantle it entirely, The New York Times reported Sunday.
According to the report, White House officials are weighing a deal that would leave North Korea’s existing nuclear arsenal and missile battery in place – a situation US policy has long considered intolerable.
A spokesman for the US State Department denied that such a proposal was being considered.
The deal, according to The Times, would be “one that essentially enshrines the status quo, and tacitly accepts the North as a nuclear power, something administration officials have often said they would never stand for.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business insider.
The State Department’s envoy to North Korea, Stephen Biegun, told The Times that its account was “pure speculation” and that his team was “not preparing any new proposal currently.”
“What is accurate is not new, and what is new is not accurate,” he said.
On Sunday, Trump took part in a historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, briefly entering North Korean territory and becoming the first sitting US president to do so.
Despite a series of high-profile summits with Kim, Trump’s discussions with his counterpart have been short on results. Talks between the leaders in Vietnam in February broke down apparently after Kim demanded an end to US sanctions.
At Sunday’s meeting, the two agreed to resume negotiations.
Critics have accused Trump of helping to legitimise Kim’s brutal government on the international stage with little to show in return.
Observers say that Trump is under pressure to get results from his discussions with Kim and that a nuclear freeze would most likely be easier to negotiate.
A nuclear freeze would mark a dramatic departure from the long-standing US commitment to its policy of North Korea’s “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.”
That policy seeks to have North Korea dismantle its nuclear arsenal and allow international inspectors to ensure it is doing so.
A nuclear freeze would be similar to the 1994 Agreed Framework deal negotiated between North Korea’s leader at the time, Kim Il Sung, and the Clinton administration before North Korea possessed nuclear weapons.
Brokered by former President Jimmy Carter, the deal saw North Korea agree to freeze its production of nuclear weapons.
The deal fell apart, with the US accusing North Korea of breaking its promises.