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North Korean Media: ‘Denuclearization’ Does Not Mean Pyongyang Must Disarm

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was pictured inspecting a device at the nation's Nuclear Weapons Institute
AFP/ KNS

A media mouthpiece for the North Korean regime operating in Japan asserted on Wednesday that Kim Jong-un’s full commitment to “denuclearization” does not mean he plans to give up his nuclear weapons and that it is fake news to claim it does.

The editorial claim from North Korean media organ Choson Sinbo was highlighted by South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo on Friday:

“Claims that favor CVID instead of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula are being disseminated,” the newspaper said, but insisted they are “distortions of information and attempts to sway public opinion” — in other words, fake news.

It seems the thrust is to put the focus on denuclearization of the entire peninsula rather than leaving the ball in North Korea’s court alone, including the pullout of U.S. troops and weapons in South Korea the North has called for.

It also described the situation as “two countries fighting and pointing nuclear weapons at each other,” suggesting that North Korea should be recognized as a nuclear power.

“CVID” stands for “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.” The U.S. government uses this formulation to describe the standard that North Korea must meet, a standard that would necessarily involve a great deal of transparency from secretive Pyongyang, confirmed by an intrusive international inspections regime.

The joint declaration issued by President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un after their meeting in Singapore did not include the CVID language, but more vaguely referred to North Korea’s commitment to denuclearization.

This is more than merely a rhetorical quibble, as the North Korean regime has long interpreted “denuclearization” to involve the withdrawal of U.S. conventional and nuclear forces from the region.

The Trump administration steadfastly insists that CVID remains the condition North Korea must meet before sanctions will be lifted. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that it was “silly” to assert that the language of the Singapore declaration waters down the CVID standard.

“We have made very clear that the sanctions and the economic relief that North Korea will receive will only happen after the full denuclearization, the complete denuclearization, of North Korea,” Pompeo said from Beijing, adding that China also remains committed to holding the Kim regime to this standard.

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