U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reportedly demanded North Korea give up five nuclear weapons by the end of May to prove its willingness to denuclearize.
According to South Korean newspaper Segye Ilbo, a diplomatic source states Pompeo passed the message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during his recent trip to Pyongyang.
The proposal calls for the weapons to be sent to France for destruction “to confirm North Korea’s authenticity” ahead of the June 12 summit in Singapore between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump.
“The United States prefers to reduce the physical time spent on inspections, verification, and other tasks as much as possible,” the source said. “It will first take out five existing nuclear weapons, and then aim to get five North Korean nuclear weapons each month.”
The U.S. government estimates North Korea is in possession of roughly 20 nuclear weapons. If successful, the denuclearization process would take approximately four months to complete.
Whether or not North Korea agreed to the demand is currently unclear.
Analysts still remain skeptical over whether Kim will relinquish his country’s nuclear capability, pointing to decades of failed promises and hollow concessions from the Hermit Kingdom.
And while Pyongyang pledged to end its weapons tests and shut down its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, recent commercial satellite imagery shows what appears to be a new structure in Pyongsong dedicated to the production of launchers for the Hwasong-15 ICBM.
According to Pompeo, the Trump administration’s goal still remains “the permanent, verifiable, irreversible dismantling of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction program.”
The secretary of state’s most recent trip to Pyongyang resulted in the release of three American hostages.