May 7 (UPI) — Hundreds of inspectors would be needed to oversee the dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear facilities and weapons, the New York Times reported Sunday.
Ahead of talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un later this month, experts say the denuclearization of North Korea is likely to be the “most extensive inspection campaign in the history of nuclear disarmament.”
Last month, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced their commitment to the “full denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula, in their Panmunjom Declaration reached during their Apr. 27 meeting.
Specific details and measures regarding denuclearization is expected to be negotiated between the U.S. and North Korean leaders in their highly anticipated summit.
However, given the North’s nuclear program that stretches back more than fifty years, and involves scores of clandestine sites and tunnels, experts have stressed that international inspectors are likely to have their work cut out.
Dr. David Kay, Senior Fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies said up to 300 inspectors would be needed in the North, but it would be difficult to find enough specialists with the necessary skills and experience.
According to a 2014 report by RAND Corporation, North Korea has about 40 to 100 nuclear labs and facilities.
It is also believed to have built an arsenal of 20 to 60 nuclear warheads over the years.
Meanwhile, scepticism remains in Washington on whether the North would really give up its nuclear weapons program.
Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told Fox News on Sunday that Pyongyang is unlikely to give up all its nuclear weapons, fuels and missiles during negotiations with the United States.
He said that, given Pyongyang’s history of negotiations where its officials tried to manipulate world opinion, Washington should prepare for the worst case scenario.
“I think you can hope for the best, but we have to prepare for the worst. And that means beefing up our ability to defend against missile attacks, modernizing our own nuclear deterrent, increasing our defense for ships and other military capabilities in that region,” he said.