A U.S.-North Korea Deal Could Include Partial Sanctions Relief for Yongbyon and a Nuclear Freeze

Robert E. Kelly
Reuters

Robert E. Kelly

Security, Asia

The question is: Will the DPRK accept it?

A U.S.-North Korea Deal Could Include Partial Sanctions Relief for Yongbyon and a Nuclear Freeze

Washington rumor now has it that the Trump administration is considering offering North Korea some temporary sanctions relief for a freeze of its production of nuclear warheads and missiles. The mooted deal would also include the shutdown of North Korea’s best-known nuclear reactor, at Yongbyon. It does not, however, indicate what range missiles would be frozen. The latter matters to regional allies, especially Japan, which is threatened by shorter range missiles than North Korea would use to strike the United States mainland.

This substantiates further some of the ideas that were floated a few weeks ago,which centered around a freeze as a possible first step towards denuclearization. Republican “hawks” like National Security Advisor John Bolton rejected such an arrangement, but this new leak suggests a similar idea of a step-by-step process with the North. Bolton and others have sought a package deal, whereby North Korea would give up its entire nuclear and missile program in exchange for expansive but vague U.S. economic and security guarantees. North Korea was never going to accept that fantastical suggestion. It spent fifty years and countless billions from a backward economy clawing its way into nuclear status. Nuclear weapons insure Pyongyang against regime change efforts from hawks like Bolton. Any deal to give them up would have to partial, sequenced, slow, and very well compensated. And indeed, when President Donald Trump asked for the entire North Korean program at Hanoi a few months ago, the North Koreans said no and the summit collapsed.

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