US wants North Korea freeze as beginning of denuclearization process
Iran Press TV
Wed Jul 10, 2019 03:56AM
The United States says it hopes North Korea would freeze its nuclear program, a move that could be the start of a denuclearization process.
This comes after President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had a meeting in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) late in June, during which the two agreed to resume working-level talks following their failed summit in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, in February.
According to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the talks would likely take place "sometime in July ... probably in the next two or three weeks."
On Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said, "(A) freeze, you know, that would never be the resolution of a process. That would never be the end of a process."
"That would (be) something that we would certainly hope to see at the beginning. But I don't think that the administration has ever characterized a freeze as being the end goal. That would be at the beginning of the process," Ortagus said at a regular news briefing.
Although North Korea has not conducted any nuclear bomb and missile testing since 2017, US officials still believe it has continued producing bomb fuel and missiles in order to expand its arsenal.
Ortagus noted that Washington still wanted Pyongyang to completely eliminate all its weapons of mass destruction.
She went on to say the US special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, and South Korean counterpart would meet to discuss ways to achieve this goal during Biegun's visit to Europe this week.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has dismissed a report by The New York Times that US officials were considering negotiating a nuclear freeze by North Korea instead of its complete denuclearization, a consideration which would mean Washington was willing to tacitly accept the north as a nuclear state.
The US has been engaged in diplomacy with Pyongyang after a summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore last June, but with little progress.
They two leaders met for a second summit in Hanoi, however, that summit abruptly ended after Pyongyang reportedly demanded that the US lift sanctions in exchange for denuclearization.
Washington has imposed several rounds of unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang since 2006 over its nuclear and missile programs.
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