North Korea has told the United States that it's prepared to discuss denuclearization at the June 12 summit between its leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump. But the reclusive regime likely has an entirely different understanding of what denuclearization entails. than the White House.
For the U.S., the term means North Korea relinquishing nuclear weapons — but Pyongyang may agree to do so only if certain conditions are fulfilled, experts warn. Those include terminating America's military presence in South Korea as well as ending the U.S. regional nuclear umbrella, a security arrangement in which Washington promises in-kind retaliation on behalf of close allies if they are attacked with nuclear weapons.
North Korea's concept of denuclearization, made clear through years of failed discussions with the international community, "bears no resemblance to the American definition," Evans J.R. Revere, a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings, wrote in a note.
In agreeing to meet with Trump, Kim is simply resuscitating the approach his country has pursued in previous negotiations, Revere warned. That is, Pyongyang will "launch a lengthy, complicated negotiation to get agreement on actions each party must take, and use this process to buy time for the development of the North's nuclear weapons program."