Although North Korea has suspended all its nuclear and missile tests during its negotiations with Washington, it has yet to start denuclearization.
Mr. Trump is expected to use his Hanoi summit meeting to push for a freeze on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, as well as a “road map” for ridding the country of all its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, according to United States officials. Mr. Trump also seeks to ensure that both sides have a “shared understanding” of what they mean by the “complete denuclearization of Korean Peninsula.”
In the past, North Korea had indicated that it would be willing to denuclearize only when the United States removed American troops from South Korea, as well as keeping long-range bombers and other nuclear-capable military assets from the peninsula. But officials from both the United States and South Korea insist that their countries’ alliance should not be on the negotiating table between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim.
“The United States and partners are prepared to explore how to mobilize investment, improve infrastructure, enhance food security, and more in the D.P.R.K.,” the White House said in a statement this past week, using an abbreviation of the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “Robust economic development under Chairman Kim is at the core of President Trump’s vision for a bright future for United States-D.P.R.K. relations.”
The White House said North Korea had also “committed to the dismantlement of plutonium and uranium enrichment facilities.”
Officials from both countries are already in Hanoi negotiating the agenda, logistics and other details for the meeting, including what first steps toward denuclearization North Korea should take. North Korea has offered to dismantle its nuclear complex in Yongbyon, which houses plutonium and uranium enrichment facilities, but has said it would do so only when the United States took “corresponding” measures.
The scale of North Korea’s actions is likely to depend largely on whether Washington agrees to ease sanctions, according to South Korean officials familiar with the negotiations.
Mr. Kim’s efforts to rebuild the country’s economy have been hampered by a series of tough United Nations sanctions for which the Trump administration has campaigned. The sanctions seek to block key North Korean export items, such as coal and iron ore, as well as sharply limiting the North’s ability to import fuel.