By J.V. Lakshmana Rao
Chicago: According to the latest reports available in the media, US spy agencies have indicated that North Korea is still working on new missiles at one of its sophisticated factories. This is contrary to the Trump administration’s formal timeline set for North Korea to initiate the process of denuclearization. It is learnt that the US has presented a timeline program to the North Korea several times in the last two months and every time North Korea is stated to have rejected such a program.
The trickled details of the timeline program, now available indicate that the US has asked North Korea to hand over its 60-70 percent of nuclear weapons within six-eight months to the US or any other country. And the country that takes possession of them, will remove them from North Korea. Beyond this, the reports do not indicate, as an exchange, what concessions the US has offered to North Korea.
Meanwhile, the US intelligence reports quote satellite photographs as evidence to the North Korean buildup of liquid-fueled Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) in Sanumdong research facility.
All these reports have emerged only after North Korea, as if to win the confidence of the US, has returned 55 sets of apparent remains of the US soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War. But the US expectations from North Korea are not just returning the remains of US soldiers, but to seriously work towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
By returning the three US detaineesa couple of months ago and now handing over the 55 sets of alleged remains of the US soldiers, the North Korean administration has not done enough to convince the US that North Korea is seriously working towards the achieving the objectives of joint peace statement signed by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Unin Singapore on June 12.On the contrary, the latest reports, and the past experience have led the US to set the timeline for starting the process of denuclearization.
The North Korean administration, which feels that it is taking unilateral actions towards peace process, expects the US to begin relaxing its rigidity and take simultaneous actions to improve mutual relations. To show examples of its accountability towards peace effort, North Korea says it has declared moratorium on nuclear tests and on launching of long-range missiles. It says it has demolished entrance buildings to underground nuclear testing facilities and dismantled some of its missile testing facilities.
The US contention, on the contrary, is that the North Korea has not disclosed details of its nuclear program, it has not declared the number of nuclear warheads in its possession and it has not revealed its process of denuclearization. Although Trump has thanked Kim for starting the repatriation of the remains of the US soldiers killed in the Korean War, the US administration expects at least 5,000 American soldiers were killed and their remains could be recoverable, whereas North Korea is believed to have the remains of only 200 soldiers in its possession. The US has also sought forensic testing of the remains that it has received to confirm that they belong to the dead US soldiers as in the past North Korea had problem in identifying them. The remains it had sent to Japan sometime back had turned out to be not those of humans but of dogs.
The US is firm on not lifting sanctions, not according economic rewards nor providing significant security to North Korea unless it makes a firm commitment to denuclearization process towards the Korean Peninsula peace.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who made at least three trips to North Korea after the historic Trump-Kim summit, has found that not much progress has been made since then by the Kim regime towards the Korean Peninsula peace process.
By J.V. Lakshmana Rao