The world heaved a sigh of relief when Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un met in Singapore in June 2018 to chalk out a plan for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The summit was hailed as a historic one as the two leaders met face-to-face for the first time. The hermit kingdom suspended launching of its missiles but it now transpires that North Korea is trying to camouflage its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Sky News reports UN Security Council (UNSC) has compiled a confidential document on the nuclear programs of North Korea.

It seems that instead of dismantling them, the regime is trying to protect them and is ignoring the provisions of existing sanctions. This revelation comes at a time when the two sides are setting the stage for a second summit at a yet-undisclosed venue probably at the end of February.

Road ahead for denuclearization

The disclosure in the UN report is not in keeping with expectations. North Korea is trying to draw a red herring across the path to denuclearization. It is concealing its intentions by using civilian facilities like airports in order to safeguard its interests. These include manufacturing sites of nuclear weapons apart from associated setups for carrying out activities related to assembly, storage and testing of weapons.

The UNSC has kept up its pressure on Kim’s regime since 2006 through sanctions in an effort to restrict the inflow of finances for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

There are bans on the export of a variety of revenue-earning items but Pyongyang appears to have worked out an escape route to circumvent the provisions of sanctions. Obviously, the road to denuclearization is still on uneven ground.

Path to the Trump-Kim summits

Until 2017, the world was on tenterhooks because North Korea continued testing its missiles and kept tensions alive by threatening to nuke the United States.

However, come 2018, Kim Jong-un changed track and tried to mend fences with the South, leading to the Singapore summit between the North Korean leader and President Donald Trump. Now, a second Trump-Kim summit is on the cards.

Washington Post has pointed out an interesting aspect of the Singapore Declaration. It relates to the sequence. First is to normalize relations between the United States and North Korea. Then comes the establishment of a “lasting and stable peace regime.” The last item is the commitment of Kim’s regime to work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.