|U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton walks on the driveway of the White House after an interview in Washington, Jan. 26 (KST). AP-Yonhap|
By Kim Yoo-chul
The United States wants North Korea to provide a list of its secret uranium enrichment facilities as a key prerequisite in exchange for possibly easing of economic sanctions, a Cheong Wa Dae official said Sunday.
"Washington wants a list of Pyongyang's uranium enrichment facilities and secret nuclear weapons sites during the upcoming second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un," the official said.
The request follows the ongoing working-level talks between the two at which the U.S. is said to have asked the North to dismantle its nuclear research facility at Yongbyon and place its inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in Chinese custody.
"Washington wants Pyongyang to follow three steps in dismantling its nuclear program ― to give a report, allow verification and announce a dismantlement timeline ― because it wants to check on previous nuclear tests by North Korea and get details on the country's uranium enrichment facilities," the official said.
The request was "something that the North won't easily accept without trust building between Washington and Pyongyang," according to the official.
He added that President Moon Jae-in was on seeking to mediate and facilitate processes to keep the talks on dismantling the North's nuclear program alive ahead of the much-anticipated second meeting between Trump and Kim.
If the request is accepted and the U.S. offers reciprocal measures such as establishing a liaison office in Pyongyang and granting sanctions exemptions on halted inter-Korean economic projects, Trump's meeting with Kim could produce "substantial results" in terms of the North ending its nuclear program within the next couple years.
|U.S. President Donald Trump meets President Moon Jae-in (unseen) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, as U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton looks on, May 22, 2018. AP-Yonhap|
"It's a matter of mutual trust between the U.S. and North Korea," a source said. "Establishing a liaison office in Pyongyang for U.S. officials to stay until the completion of a verification process on the nuclear facilities would be the right move in terms of building trust between the two countries."
From this perspective, transferring some ICBMs to China could be one option Kim could offer at the upcoming summit.
"These measures, if realized, could serve as an interim step to getting the ICBMs out of North Korea and into the custody of a third party," the source said.
Kim wants "rewards" for each step his regime takes toward nuclear disarmament. He earlier said his recent decision to stop operating a missile engine test site should be reciprocated with the easing of some sanctions.
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Saturday (KST) that Washington would roll back sanctions if North Korea took a "significant" step toward denuclearization.
"What we need from North Korea is a significant sign of a strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons and it is when we get that denuclearization that the president can begin to take the sanctions off," Bolton said when asked what progress was expected from the summit.
Bolton's rather-softened stance seems in contrast with Washington's earlier repeated commitment to ensuring the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear program before rolling back sanctions.