South Korean Basketballers Arrive in North to Mix Sports, Diplomacy

Howard TerryJul 07, 2018

In North Korea, "running it tough" means executing dissidents, torturing political prisoners in gulags and threatening to wipe a few US cities off the map with a nuclear blast.

"We're continuing to make progress", White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said at Monday's press briefing. The Pentagon has said it is a diplomatic issue, with casket-like carrying cases waiting at the DMZ for an agreement between North Korean and US delegations.

The Washington Post on Saturday cited unnamed US intelligence officials as concluding that North Korea does not intend to fully surrender its nuclear stockpile.

"In the last eight months, you haven't seen missile launches, you haven't seen nuclear detonations", Sanders added.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon led the group of 50 male and female players, in the first visit to Pyongyang by an official from the South since Kim and US President Donald Trump's landmark summit in Singapore last month.

Prior to the June 12 meeting between Trump and Kim, North Korea gave assurances it would destroy the Punggye-ri nuclear testing facility.

The news comes amid a flurry of new questions over Kim's commitment to denuclearize as leaked reports from United States intelligence officials and analysis of open source satellite imagery appear to cast doubt on North Korea's willingness to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

It was not clear whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would attend any of the games, but he did make a prominent appearance at a concert put on by South Korean musicians in Pyongyang earlier this year. "If it wasn't for me, now we would be at war with North Korea", he wrote. We're not going to provide a timeline for that.

"It would concern me a lot if they are expanding the nuclear program as they meet with the president", Graham said.

Nauert similarly dodged a question on the specific timeline imposed on North Korea regarding getting rid of its illegal nuclear weapons program.

Recovering remains of American soldiers in North Korea.

The confidence comes amid reports that US intelligence has assessed that North Korea does not want to give up its nuclear weapons and is actively working to hide them, newly released satellite images that show North Korea expanding a key missile-manufacturing plant, and new questions about why the regime has not returned the remains of American soldiers from the Korean War, even after President Donald Trump initially said they had. USA officials have since been trying to flesh out details to produce an agreement that might live up to Trump's enthusiastic portrayal of the outcome. Pyongyang wants to normalize relations with the United States and others without giving up its nuclear weapons and fissile material. Pyongyang does not intend to fully surrender its nuclear stockpile and tries to deceive the U.S. about the number of its nuclear warheads and the existence of undisclosed facilities, the Washington Post reported, citing U.S. intelligence officials. Trump administration officials have deflected criticism of the agreement, describing it as the first step in a negotiated process to persuade Kim to give up his arsenal.

"To prove North Korea's willingness to denuclearize, at the minimum, there should be an agreement on the basic roadmap on denuclearization of North Korea - the definition, timeframe and verification procedures and the ways to guarantee the North Korean regime", said Park Won-gon, a professor at Handong Global University.

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