President Donald Trump’s first summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un last year was a historic meeting, which seemingly promised to deliver progress in terms of the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, but little has been done since then, leaving many to push the two leaders to forge a deal when they meet for a second time at the end of this month.
Trump and Kim are to hold their second summit in Vietnam on February 27-28, which is to focus on finally ending the North Korean nuclear weapons threat in exchange for certain concessions on the U.S. part.
Namely, Kim has been calling on the United States to lift the damaging sanctions on his country in exchange for Pyongyang dismantling its nuclear weapons program. But, for now, it remains unclear whether each side can offer enough for the other to make the demanded concessions, ABC News writes.
It adds that the U.S. may seek the dismantling of the Yongbyon nuclear complex, “the heart” of North Korea’s nuclear program, where both plutonium and uranium are produced. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who met with Kim in September, said the North would be willing to dismantle the complex if the United States takes unspecified corresponding steps.
However, some remain skeptical as to whether the dismantling of the facility would be enough since North Korea would still have an estimated arsenal of as many as 70 nuclear weapons and more than 1,000 ballistic missiles. The country is also believed to be running multiple undisclosed uranium-enrichment facilities.
“We could call (Yongbyon’s destruction) a half-deal or a small-deal. It’s really an incomplete denuclearization step,” said Nam Sung-wook, a professor at Korea University.
As for the concessions the U.S. would likely have to make, they would almost certainly include declaring a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, opening a liaison office in Pyongyang, and allowing North Korea to restart some economic projects with South Korea, in addition to easing some sanctions on the regime.
“For North Korea, abandoning the Yongbyon complex is a fairly big (negotiating) card … so the North will likely try to win some economic benefits,” said Chon Hyun-joon, president of the Institute of Northeast Asia Peace Cooperation Studies in South Korea.