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US is stalling North Korea denuclearization by refusing to make concessions – analysts

US is stalling North Korea denuclearization by refusing to make concessions – analysts
Since the US under Trump has not shown itself to be the most reliable partner, Pyongyang made it clear it won't give up its nukes until it sees concrete steps from Washington, which it is reluctant to take, analysts told RT.

While the intra-Korean relationship is gaining momentum amid an ongoing thaw, the progress in denuclearization has somewhat stalled. In his New Year’s address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un warned the US to stop dallying and make "trustworthy steps and corresponding behavior" in response to his goodwill.

Also on rt.com Kim pledges denuclearization, but warns N. Korea will seek ‘a new way’ if US flouts promises

"On part of the North Koreans, they see that they have improved the relationship, they have improved the atmosphere over the Korean peninsula, and they expect to see, at least, some easing of the sanctions and they are not seeing that," Andrew Leung, an international and independent China specialist, told RT, speaking about Kim's warning he would seek a "new way" if the US does not reciprocate.

Leung noted the amount of effort Pyongyang has put into the rapprochement with the South, saying that "never before have we seen North Korea warming up to South Korea to such an extent."

Kim and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in held three summits in addition to a series of high-level military talks. The leaders have recently agreed to link railway and road networks and attended a symbolic ceremony on the border. However, further economic cooperation is impeded by US and international sanctions in effect on North Korea.

Joseph Cheng, a Hong-Kong-based political scientist, argued that Seoul is ready to offer Pyongyang more economic incentives to scrap its nuclear program, but Washington's insistence that sanctions must stay until complete and irreversible denuclearization is holding further progress back.

"While the international community's perception of North Korea has considerably improved after the Singapore summit and three intra-Korean summits, Pyongyang has not yet received any concrete benefits from the United States, nor from South Korea and China," Cheng noted, adding that "the South Korean government is certainly happy and ready to offer economic aid to Pyongyang."

Kim's proposal to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a symbol of cooperation between the two Koreas until its 2016 shutdown, and allow South Korean tourists into the North are "quite acceptable" for the Moon government, but he is not able to deliver due to Washington's constraints, he said.

The only way to resolve the long-running nuclear conundrum is for the US and North Korea to agree on "stage-by-stage arrangements so there will be reciprocity in mutual concessions," Cheng believes.

The guarantees that should be provided to Pyongyang are of even greater importance considering the record of the current US administration, which has not shown itself to be a trustworthy partner in the international arena. Pyongyang's position is understandable, since "the Trump administration does not appear the most reliable administration in the world," Leung said.

"Their past experience shows that the Trump administration is prone to changing tactics, maintain the sanctions, even if the North Koreans have given up some of their stance."

Leung believes that while denuclearization has not been as swift as many had hoped, neither Trump nor Kim is interested in going back to the "fire and fury scenario" and are more likely than not to meet again.

"The American electorate does not want a flare-up of any kind of major conflict over North Korea." Besides, "the Trump administration has prided itself in achieving some degree of easing of tensions," he noted.

Trump has already touted his potential meeting with Kim, which might take place early this year, either in January or February. Still, there has been no indication that the US can lift some of the sanctions it has imposed on North Korea, either unilaterally or in concert with other countries.

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