February 14, 2019 11:07
North Korean state media Wednesday hinted that Pyongyang will freeze rather than scrap its nuclear weapons program.
The North's Rodong Sinmun daily on Wednesday featured a written contribution from an ethnic Korean in Japan saying that nuclear weapons "are [North Korea's] powerful war deterrent that counters the power of the U.S."
It quoted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowing not to "produce, test, use or distribute nuclear weapons," suggesting that the North will agree to no more than a freeze.
The reports come amid mounting skepticism over any progress in U.S.-led efforts to get the North to dismantle its nuclear weapons ahead of a second bilateral summit.
Adm. Philip Davidson, the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said Tuesday, "We think it is unlikely that North Korea will give up all of its nuclear weapons or production capabilities."
Davidson told a Senate hearing that he believes the North will seek "to negotiate partial denuclearization in exchange for U.S. and international concessions." He added his assessment is "consistent with the intelligence community position."
Meanwhile, Gen. Robert Abrams, the commander of the U.S. Forces Korea, told the same hearing that despite "a marked reduction in tensions" on the Korean Peninsula, "little to no verifiable change has occurred in North Korea's military capabilities."
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