12:31 GMT24 January 2020
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    United States’ Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, made the admission this week that reaching a denuclearization deal with North Korea “may take some time.” Pompeo’s announcement comes amidst calls from Russia for Washington to begin the process of easing sanctions on Pyongyang.

    To find out where things are headed, Sputnik spoke to Professor of international relations, Joseph Camilleri, of La Trobe University.

    Sputnik: So, Secretary of State Pompeo has said that reaching a denuclearisation agreement with North Korea “may take some time” – considering recent reports from US intelligence agencies, which say that there are, as it stands, no signs that North Korea has started dismantling its nuclear weapons facilities, is it possible that the US administration is coming around to the idea that this is going to be a tough fight, or may never even happen?

    Joseph Camilleri: Well I think it is going to be a very difficult task, a difficult journey. No country that has, and particularly no government as the one in North Korea, that has spent so much energy and effort on developing its nuclear weapons will do away with them simply because someone else asks them to do so.

    So, it will want to get the best possible deal and that will involve a lot. That will involve a lot on the part of the US in terms of making concessions on a range of issues that are particularly of interest to North Korea. Now, the United States for its part will be unlikely to want to rush into doing that unless it has some firm expectation that this will then be reciprocated by the North Korean government.

    So I think they’re both felling each other. The nuclear weapons was always meant to be an insurance policy for the North Korean regime in the hope that it will be able to extract a number of things that it wants from the United States; in particular removal of sanctions. No doubt economic assistance and importantly, elimination of the military pressure to which it is subjected as a result of the US military presence in South Korea and beyond in the Pacific.

    So, to get all that agreed to will be a very long process given that we’re starting from a very high level of mutual mistrust. So I think they judgement it’ll take a long time is accurate and whether it will be successful at the end in terms of some agreement of course remains to be seen.

    Sputnik: President Trump has said that there is “no rush” to get the task done; is that a sentiment shared by the rest of his administration and government, including the intelligence communities do you think?

    Joseph Camilleri: Probably not. No I think he probably is reasonably satisfied with having got to the point that North Korea is not going to do any more overt testing of missiles or of nuclear weapons and for that he has to postpone more or less indefinitely, joint military exercises with the South Koreans.

    So that’s been the quid pro quo so far, now whether there can be another quid pro quo to compliment that initial one we’ll have to wait and see.

    Sputnik: Russia’s envoy to North Korea has, according to Russian media, raised the question of whether sanctions in North Korea should be eased, saying it is a logical question to ask – do you see this happening before concrete steps are made by Pyongyang that appease US demands?

    Joseph Camilleri: Well I think again there would need to be a quid pro quo.

    So just as the example I’ve given you of what has already happened, I think certainly Trump as president would be willing to entertain easing of sanctions just a few steps in that direction in return for some additional steps from the North Koreans, whether it is the dismantling of particular facilities, or some other containment of the nuclear weapons programme.

    So they will have to do some horse trading if that is going to, if there’s going to be an easing of sanctions. But I can’t see Trump, let alone other members of his administration, agreeing to the easing of tensions with nothing gained from the North Koreans in return.

    The views and opinions expressed by Joseph Camilleri do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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