North Korea Not Denuclearizing Quite Yet

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By Brilee Carey 4/23/18

President Trump announced in a Sunday tweet that North Korea had agreed to suspend its nuclear testing and begin the process of disabling their nuclear weapons. However, while North Korea has agreed to stop the nuclear tests, disable intercontinental ballistic missile launches and dismantle a nuclear testing site,  these concessions are not as straightforward as they appear.

Kim Jong Un announced the closure of North Korea’s nuclear testing site as a gesture in advance of his meeting with President Trump in May. However, North Korea doesn’t need the test site because it has successfully built and tested its nuclear weapons.

Where there is likely to be strong disagreement is the issue of denuclearization. It is more complex than North Korea simply deactivating its weapons. South Korean officials, who meet with North Korean officials later this week, said that they and the US have different ideas on what denuclearization means.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

According to South Korean officials, nuclear weapons development in North Korea will continue until American troops are completely removed from the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has also said in the past that the United States needs to remove the nuclear umbrella which protects Japan and South Korea.

Even if the countries reach a denuclearization agreement and North Korea gives up its “treasured sword” of nuclear weapons, the agreement does not cover what happens to the rest of Kim Jong Un’s’s arsenal. Critics of the negotiations doubt that North Korea will even keep any agreement due to its long history of broken promises.

“The question is whether it lasts or not,” said Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. “The reputation of the North Koreans has been that they don’t necessarily keep their agreements.”