The Trump administration has presented North Korea with a formal timeline for starting the process of denuclearization — and Pyongyang has rejected it several times. It shows that even after months of talks, Washington and Pyongyang have made little progress toward ending the North Korean nuclear threat.
The details of the US-proposed timeline, which have not previously been reported, are as follows: North Korea hands over 60 to 70 percent of its nuclear warheads within six to eight months; the US or a third party — likely another country — takes possession of them and removes them from North Korea. It’s unclear what concessions, if any, the US would offer in exchange beyond sanctions relief or removing North Korea from the state sponsors of terrorism list.
According to two people familiar with the discussions, this is the plan that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has presented to North Korean negotiators multiple times over the past two months. But each time, the North Korean negotiators, led by Kim Yong Chol — a top aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — have turned down Pompeo’s proposal.
Further complicating matters, North Korea hasn’t yet disclosed to the United States exactly how many nuclear bombs it even has. So even if North Korean negotiators did agree to the US timeline and handed over what it says is 60 to 70 percent of its arsenal, it would be difficult to verify that.
Indeed, one source told me that Pompeo’s main goal in this stage of the negotiations is merely to get North Korea to officially disclose how many nuclear weapons it possesses, and has pressed the North Koreans to fully account for its warhead total.
On June 30, the Washington Post reported that US intelligence officials believe the Kim regime will not give up its nuclear stockpile and is looking to conceal the number of nuclear weapons it has; some estimates hover around 65.