US plans for dismantling North Korea’s nuclear arsenal may face resistance

US President Donald Trump has reiterated that he thought North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was serious about denuclearization. (KCNA via KNS/AP)
Updated 02 July 2018
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US plans for dismantling North Korea’s nuclear arsenal may face resistance

  • Doubts over North Korea’s intentions have deepened amid reports that it is continuing to produce fissile material for weapons
  • US President Donald Trump reiterated in an interview broadcast Sunday that he thought Kim Jong Un was serious about denuclearization

WASHINGTON: The US has a plan that would lead to the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in a year, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said Sunday, although US intelligence reported signs that Pyongyang doesn’t intend to fully give up its arsenal.
John Bolton said top US diplomat Mike Pompeo will be discussing that plan with North Korea in the near future. Bolton added that it would be to the North’s advantage to cooperate to see sanctions lifted quickly and aid from South Korea and Japan start to flow.
Bolton’s remarks on CBS’ “Face the Nation” appeared to be the first time the Trump administration had publicly suggested a timeline for North Korea to fulfill the commitment leader Kim Jong Un made at a summit with President Donald Trump last month for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.
Despite Trump’s rosy post-summit declaration that the North no longer poses a nuclear threat, Washington and Pyongyang have yet to negotiate the terms under which it would relinquish the weapons that it developed over decades to deter the US.
Doubts over North Korea’s intentions have deepened amid reports that it is continuing to produce fissile material for weapons.
The Washington Post on Saturday cited unnamed US intelligence officials as concluding that North Korea does not intend to fully surrender its nuclear stockpile. Evidence collected since the June 12 summit in Singapore points to preparations to deceive the US about the number of nuclear warheads in North Korea’s arsenal as well as the existence of undisclosed facilities used to make fissile material for nuclear bombs, according to the report.
It said the findings support a new, previously undisclosed Defense Intelligence Agency estimate that North Korea is unlikely to denuclearize. Some aspects of the new intelligence were reported Friday by NBC News.
A US official told The Associated Press that the Post’s report was accurate and that the assessment reflected the consistent view across US government agencies for the past several weeks. The official was not authorized to comment publicly on the matter and requested anonymity.
Bolton on Sunday declined to comment on intelligence matters.
He said the administration was well aware of North Korea’s track record over the decades in dragging out negotiations with the US to continue weapons development.
“We have developed a program. I’m sure that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be discussing this with the North Koreans in the near future about really how to dismantle all of their WMD and ballistic missile programs in a year,” Bolton said. “If they have the strategic decision already made to do that, and they’re cooperative, we can move very quickly,” he added.
He said the one-year program the US is proposing would cover all of the North’s chemical and biological weapons, nuclear programs and ballistic missiles.
Even if North Korea is willing to cooperate, dismantling its secretive weapons of mass destruction programs, believed to encompass dozens of sites, will be tough. Stanford University academics, including nuclear physicist Siegfried Hecker, a leading expert on the North’s nuclear program, have proposed a 10-year roadmap for that task; others say it could take less time.
Pompeo has already visited Pyongyang twice since April to meet with Kim — the first time when he was still director of the CIA — and there are discussions about a possible third trip to North Korea late next week but such a visit has not yet been confirmed.
Trump reiterated in an interview broadcast Sunday that he thinks Kim is serious about denuclearization.
“I made a deal with him. I shook hands with him. I really believe he means it,” the president said on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo.”
Trump defended his decision to suspend “war games” with close ally South Korea — a significant concession to North Korea, which so far has suspended nuclear and missile tests and destroyed tunnels at its nuclear test site but not taken further concrete steps to denuclearize.
“Now we’re saving a lot of money,” Trump said of the cancelation of large-scale military drills that involve flights of US bombers from the Pacific US territory of Guam.
“So we gave nothing. What we are going to give is good things in the future. And by the way I really believe North Korea has a tremendous future. I got along really well with Chairman Kim. We had a great chemistry,” Trump added.
Pressure will now be on Pompeo to make progress in negotiations with North Korea to turn the summit declaration into concrete action. He spoke with the foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea in recent days about the situation with the North, according to the State Department, which has declined to comment on any upcoming travel.
Pompeo postponed plans to meet with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and their counterparts from India on July 6, citing unavoidable circumstances, which has fueled speculation he will make a third trip to Pyongyang.


"We are happy to have our son back"

Updated 18 December 2018
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"We are happy to have our son back"

  • Parents of Indian national released from Peshawar jail rejoice
  • Detained for alleged espionage, Ansari had reportedly entered Pakistan from Kabul to meet a girl he had befriended online

NEW DELHI: After spending six years in a Pakistani jail on charges of alleged espionage, Indian national Hamid Ansari finally saw the light of day after being released by Islamabad on Tuesday.

In search of a better livelihood, Ansari had reportedly left his hometown of Mumbai in India to look for a job in Afghanistan.

In 2012, however, he allegedly entered Kohat, in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, to meet a girl he had befriended on social media.

Pakistan, however, said that Ansari, an engineer, was an Indian spy who had illegally entered the country while accusing him of being involved in anti-state crimes and forgery, prior to sentencing him to six years in jail.

Since 2015, Ansari had been lodged in a jail in Peshawar where he ended his prison term last week.

“We are happy that we'd be able to see our son again,” an emotional Nehal Ahmad Ansari, his father, told Arab News.

His mother, Fauzia Ansari, added that Ansari's release was "an end of a painful period in our life".

Speaking to reporters, she said: "It’s a new birth for Hamid. He will begin his new life. We will support him for his rehabilitation, good health and better future.”

Nehal, on his part, thanked the government of India and Pakistan "for every effort" made in helping repatriate his son.

Ansari's entire family, along with a large number of peace activists, were present at the Wagah border to receive him. 

Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs expressed “great relief, especially for the family members, that six years of incarceration of the Indian civilian in Pakistan jail is coming to an end.”

In a press statement released on Monday, Kumar asked “Pakistan to take action to also end the misery of other Indian nationals and fishermen whose nationality has been confirmed and who have completed their sentences, but continue to languish in Pakistan jails.”