What the United States and North Korea mean when they talk about 'denuclearization'

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During a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday, Trump expressed pessimism about whether his summit with Kim would take place as planned on June 12 in Singapore.

His aides are looking to Moon to help determine whether Kim is taking a harder line against denuclearisation than South Korea had previously communicated to them, a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"It seems President Trump was confused about North Korea's position for some reason, and it's unclear why because North Korea has been very clear about their position", said Frank Aum, senior expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace and former Defense Department adviser on North Korea.

Pompeo said a USA -led sanctions pressure campaign on Pyongyang would not be eased until North Korea gives up nuclear weapons and that the United States had no intention of making concessions to Pyongyang.

Pompeo was asked at a congressional hearing if the meeting in Singapore on June 12 will happen or not after Trump said Tuesday "there's a very substantial chance" it won't go off as planned. Both parties to the talks are invested in holding the meeting, with Kim seeing an opportunity for worldwide legitimacy and Trump the prospect of securing Korean stability - and perhaps a Nobel Peace Prize.

While Kim has portrayed the demolition as a natural step after declaring his nuclear weapons program "complete", South Korean and USA officials have interpreted as a gesture of good faith ahead of next month's planned summit with Trump.

Mr Trump indicated he believes the meeting will take place, but left open the possibility it would be delayed or even cancelled if a fruitful outcome does not seem likely. I think we'll get those conditions.

In a surprise announcement Pyongyang said earlier this month that it planned to "completely" destroy the Punggye-ri facility in the country's northeast, a move welcomed by Washington and Seoul. But there also is the risk of a diplomatic failure that would allow the North to revive and advance its program.

Trump and South Korea's leader met in the Oval Office on Tuesday, and President Moon Jae-in says "the fate and the future of the Korean Peninsula hinge" on the summit set for June 12 in Singapore.

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He said the Libya model would only come into play "most likely" if a deal could not be reached with North Korea. North Korea wants a step-by-step approach, each concession by Pyongyang to be met by a US concession.

Kim's paranoia about losing power is believed to have played a role in the assassination of his older half-brother Kim Jong Nam early past year in a Malaysian airport. Trump has insisted he remains committed to the summit.

"I have no doubt that you will be able to. accomplish a historic feat that no one had been able to achieve in the decades past", Moon said.

China said both the United States and North Korea were still making preparations for the summit, and Beijing hoped both sides can "clear away distractions".

Last week Pyongyang threatened to pull out if Washington pressed for its unilateral nuclear disarmament.

"We still have a lots of work to do to find common ground", Pompeo said. "They may end up somewhere in between, which Trump officials sometimes say is unacceptable".

Mr Trump later denied the USA would follow the "Libyan model" if an agreement was reached with North Korea. Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea's First Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, tempered expectations considerably in his May 15 statement, in which he scolded the US for believing that Pyongyang would adopt a Libya-style denuclearization scheme up-front.

Mr Trump expressed suspicion that the North's recent aggressive barbs were influenced by Mr Kim's unannounced trip to China two weeks ago - his second in as many months.

"While the meeting with Kim Jong Un presents an opportunity, we should be aware that real progress on these issues will take time".