Denuclearization of North Korea Could Take Years

Even if North Korea agrees to complete denuclearization, the process could take up to a decade due to distrust between Washington and Pyongyang, an analysis from former U.S. officials showed on Monday.

The analysis, released by experts at Stanford University, comes at a time when the White House is trying to asses the extent of Pyongyang’s commitment to giving up its nuclear weapons program and is trying to figure out how it can be achieved.

The assessment was coauthored by Siegfried Hecker, a respected nuclear scientist who has previously traveled to North Korea to inspect its nuclear site, Elliot Serbin, his research assistant and Robert Carlin, a Korea analyst with years of experience at the CIA and State Department.

They have identified 22 specific programs or activities which need to be addressed at the upcoming June 12 Singapore summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Some of these include the country’s nuclear weapons stockpile, its missile arsenal, and its nuclear reprocessing facilities.

According to the experts, suspending these activities will not take more than a year, but eliminating or setting limits on them will take 6 to 10 years.

A U.S. delegation traveled on Sunday to North Korea to meet with the country’s officials and hold talks with them. The talks may resume on Wednesday at the demilitarized zone on the border between North and South Korea.

“The goal here is to create an environment where North Korea would not desire nuclear weapons development by removing the threat perception (posed by the United States),” said Chun Yung-woo, a former South Korean national security adviser.

The study’s authors further pointed out that time is also needed to ease North Korea’s security concerns. Hecker believes it could take as long as 15 years, given the uncertainties in the process.

“Such assurance cannot be achieved simply by an American promise or an agreement on paper, it will require a substantial period of coexistence and interdependence,” the analysis said.

Meanwhile, President Trump agreed to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ahead of the planned summit with the North Korean leader. The meeting would provide a chance for Trump and Abe to coordinate their strategy amid concerns in Tokyo over the prospective peace talks, The Washington Post reports.

Trump and Abe spoke by phone on Memorial Day and their meeting could potentially come on the sidelines of the Group of 7 Economic Summit in Quebec from June 8 to 9, even though Washington has not been ruled out as a possible meeting ground.

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