[Writer's Choice] North Korea's Nuclear Pledge 'Revealed' by Stephen Biegun
Jay Yim, Feb. 1, 2019, 11:09 a.m.
According to US special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, North Korea has made a pledge to destroy all of its nuclear material enrichment facilities.
He said the promise had been made to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo back in October when Pompeo visited North Korea.
Pyongyang, however, has not confirmed a pledge as such was ever made.
Biegun added that North Korea must provide a complete list of its nuclear assets before any deal can be reached.
North Korea has more than one undeclared nuclear fuel enrichment site other than Yongbyon (north of Pyongyang), experts believe, and also question how destroying these facilitiies could be verified in full.
President Donald Trump made a claim previously on the "tremendous progress" in talks between North Korea and the US.
In the Oval Office on Thursday, Trump said he will soon announce the date and location of the planned second meeting with Kim Jong Un.
The two met in Singapore last year, which was the first meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader. They signed an optimistic but vague declaration of their promise to denuclearisation.
However, little progress has been made since then.
Biegun has been Washington's top envoy to North Korea for five months. However, for the first time, he gave a detailed speech on his approach at Standford University in California.
Biegun said, "We're not going to invade North Korea. We are not seeking to topple the regime."
Biegun will be going to South Korea on Sunday before he meets North Korean officials. He claimed that Washington is willing to discuss a range of trust-building measures with Pyongyang.
According the Biegun, Kim Jong Un had committed to "the dismantlement and destruction" of all of its plutonium and uranium facilities, which provide the necessary materials for their nuclear weapons.
But Biegun reiterated how the US will not lift their sanctions until the denuclearisation of the North is complete, demanding "a complete understanding of the full extent of the North Korean WMD (weapons of mass destruction) and missile programmes through a comprehensive declaration."
He indicated, however, that the US could provide assitance in other ways, saying, 'We did not say we will not do anything until you do everything."
He added that the North and the US do not have a shared defintion of what denuclearisation actually means.
"We do not have a specific and agreed definition of what final, fully verified denuclearisation or comprehensive, verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation - whatever your preferred term of art - is," Biegun said.
Biegun went on to say that no discussion with North Korea on the 28,500 US military personnel stationed in South Korea and their withdrawal as a concessional move has been made.
North Korea has always said that its nuclecar programme has been essential to the country's survival and will never unilaterally give them up unless nuclear threat from the US no longer exists.