- - Sunday, June 30, 2019

It’s encouraging that President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met on Sunday at the DMZ and agreed to have their negotiators resume negotiations. Given the lack of progress at the Hanoi Summit, many assumed that progress with nuclear negotiations would be adversely affected. The fact is, however, that prospects are better now, after the Hanoi Summit and the DMZ meeting, given that both sides better understand what’s necessary if we want progress with negotiations.

For North Korea, there should be no doubt as to what the United States means with “complete and verifiable denuclearization.” Simply stated, it means that North Korea will dismantle all nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons facilities. It also means that a verification regime will be established to permit nuclear monitors to certify that all weapons and facilities were dismantled.

To accomplish this challenging task, those monitors will have to be permitted to visit all declared and non-declared suspect nuclear sites. This was the issue in 2008 with the implementation of the Sept. 19, 2005 Six Party Talks Joint Statement. North Korea was not prepared to sign a verification protocol to permit monitors to visit non-declared suspect nuclear sites.

It would also be important for North Korea to confirm, privately or publicly, that complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula does not affect the U.S. military presence in South Korea or the U.S. extended nuclear deterrence commitment to the South. These are U.S.-South Korea bilateral issues not affected by any denuclearization agreement with North Korea.

If this is what’s expected of North Korea, then what does North Korea expect from the United States? As the June 12, 2018 Singapore Joint Statement states clearly, North Korea would want to see progress on the transformation of the U.S.-North Korea bilateral relationship. Simply stated, North Korea wants normal diplomatic relations with the United States.

Knowing this process could take a few years, it would be reasonable to assume that an initial commitment to establish liaison offices in the respective capitals would precede full diplomatic relations. This was the process established with China, when liaison offices were established in 1975, with full diplomatic relations in January 1979. That’s not a bad model for North Korea.

Also pursuant to the Singapore Joint Statement, an eventual peace treaty that ends the Korean War should be addressed. An initial declaration from the United States ending the Korean War could be a first step toward a formal peace treaty ending the war, which would logically also include China, a participant in the Korean War.

Although not part of the Singapore Joint Statement, but as North Korea made clear during the Hanoi Summit, North Korea would want progress on the removal of United Nations sanctions, especially those enacted since March 2016. These are the most biting sanctions, since it affects North Korea’s ability to trade, primarily with China, and to receive crude oil and critical petroleum products, again primarily from China.

And finally, North Korea would like to establish an action-for-action process with the United States, so as to ensure that when North Korea makes progress with denuclearization, there are simultaneous deliverables provided to North Korea, to include progress on bilateral relations, a peace treaty ending the Korean War and the lifting of sanctions.

These are important and complex issues that will require substantive negotiations between the lead negotiators from the United States and North Korea. Hopefully, at the next leadership summit, these issues would have been resolved by the negotiators, to ensure we don’t have a repeat of the Hanoi Summit. And ideally, Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim, at the next summit, can announce an agreement for the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, with the goal also to move toward the normalization of bilateral relations, with an eventual peace treaty to end the Korean War and a process to lift sanctions.

Equally important will be an agreed road map to accomplish these objectives within a certain period of time. These are achievable objectives, assuming Mr. Kim made the strategic decision to dismantle his nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons facilities in return for a normal relationship with the United States, which will be the best security assurances for North Korea.

This meeting at the DMZ was an excellent development. It established that the negotiators from both countries will meet to do the heavy lifting and establish an agreement for the complete and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea, in return for eventual normal bilateral relations and a peace treaty to end the Korean War.

• Joseph R. DeTrani was the former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea. The views are the author’s and not of any government agency or department.

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