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US mulls giving North Korea 36-month reprieve on sanctions

Trump-Kim Meeting (Shealah Craighead/WikiCommons)

The proposal is reportedly being considered for discussions between both countries when they meet for working-level talks this weekend.

Vox also reported that US President Donald Trump promised North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their meeting at Panmunjom in June that he would sign a declaration to end the Korean War which is technically ongoing — as only an armistice was signed — and cancel a joint military exercise with South Korea.

“The United Nations can consider suspending sanctions on Pyongyang’s textile and coal exports for 36 months in exchange for the verifiable closure of the Yongbyon nuclear facility, and most likely the end of North Korea’s uranium enrichment program,” the Vox report said, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the negotiations.

The media outlet said it is unclear whether North Korea will accept the offer, considering that Kim wanted nearly all sanctions lifted in return for closing the Yongbyon facility in February.

The US negotiators could use the offer as a starting point and see how North Korea responds, or change the deal before the talks begin this weekend, the Vox report said.

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In July, a Yonhap News Agency report citing a source close to the White House said Washington would support suspending the UN sanctions on Pyongyang’s coal and textile exports for 12 to 18 months if it agrees to dismantle the main nuclear facility at Yongbyon and halts its nuclear program.

The US State Department denied the report at the time, saying it was “completely false.”

The Vox report said North Korea’s launch of what appears to be a submarine-launched missile on Tuesday night was “a sign that Pyongyang is angry with the lack of progress, and there may be a good reason why.”

Trump promised Kim in June at Panmunjom that he would cancel the joint military drill with South Korea in August, but he let it take place after his military aides told him that it was a smaller-scale simulation, the Vox report said.

In July, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesman accused the US of “violating the commitment made at the top level” for attempting to go ahead with the Dong Maeng 19-2 exercise with South Korea.

North Korea’s launch of the suspected SLBM, which flew further than any other projectile it shot in two years, “may be a message” to the US president to uphold his promise, the Vox news report noted.

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