U.S. Asks N.Korea to Take Nuclear Weapons Out of Country: Yonhap

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(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. asked North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons as early as possible by shipping some of them out of the country, in a move to win an early and concrete achievement in denuclearizing the reclusive state, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.

During negotiations ahead of the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the U.S. administration called on the regime to remove some of its weapons, including nuclear warheads, materials and intercontinental ballistic missiles from the country in return for easing economic sanctions, the agency reported, citing unidentified high-level sources. North Korea is said to be “seriously reviewing” it said.

In the run-up to the June 12 summit in Singapore, North Korea announced on Saturday that it has set the date to begin shutting down a major nuclear test site to improve relations with the outside world. Trump called the action “a very smart and gracious gesture!” on Twitter and told reporters that the process “is very important.” South Korea’s presidential office welcomed the move and said North Korea is trying to be “transparent” in the shutdown.

The U.S. is said to consider North Korea’s declaration of halting further nuclear and missile tests as “not enough” for a “complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement,” Yonhap said.

“Technically, it’s not that difficult and doesn’t take much time -- you can just destroy nuclear test sites with bulldozers and explosives and remove weapons out of the country,” Cheon Seong Whun, visiting research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul, said by phone. “The U.S. doesn’t want a gradual dismantling this time, like they did in withdrawing the nuclear deal in Iran.”

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