CIA Analysis Reportedly Says N. Korea Isn't Planning To Denuclearize

Casey Dawson
May 30, 2018

A top North Korean official boarded a flight in Beijing on Wednesday bound for NY and talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, South Korea's Yonhap reported.

Kim Yong Chol was spotted at Beijing's airport just after noon and sources as saying that Kim was on Air China's Flight 981 to NY, which departed later Wednesday afternoon. South Korea's intelligence agency said in 2015 Kim Yong Chol was demoted to a three-star general after dozing off during a meeting.

The United States and South Korea blacklisted him for supporting the North's nuclear and missile programmes in 2010 and 2016, respectively.

He is one of a small group of North Korean officials who have accompanied Kim Jong Un to all four of his summits with foreign leaders in recent months - twice with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and twice with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The former spy chief is a trusted adviser to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, playing a pivotal role in preparations for an historic summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump.

He and Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, were the only two officials to join the North Korean leader at the two inter-Korean summits.

Kim Yong Chol served in the military police in the demilitarized zone on the border of the two Koreas. Details of those talks hadn't emerged yet.

North Korea denied any involvement in both attacks. But there are lingering doubts on whether Kim will every fully relinquish his nuclear arsenal, which he may see as his only guarantee of survival in a region surrounded by enemies.

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But according to the intelligence analysis, convincing North Korea to backtrack on recent nuclear advancements would be a more realistic immediate goal. The North had tested missiles believed to be capable of reaching the United States but Trump has vowed not to let Pyongyang develop one that could deliver a nuclear warhead.

But South Korea, which has lobbied hard for the talks between Trump and Kim, has insisted that Kim can be persuaded to abandon his nuclear facilities, materials and bombs in a verifiable and irreversible way if offered credible security and economic guarantees.

This week's talks and meetings on the border between North and South Korea are aimed at determining whether North Korea is prepared to make sufficient commitments toward getting rid of its nuclear weapons, a U.S. official said.

Beijing backs the North's proposal for a phased and synchronized denuclearization process as opposed to the USA insistence on a comprehensive one-shot deal in which North Korea eliminates its nukes first and receives rewards later.

Kim Yong Chol will be the most senior North Korean official to meet top officials for talks in the United States since Jo Myong Rok, a marshal, met then-President Bill Clinton at the White House in 2000.

"It looks like the talks are going smoothly", he told reporters on Wednesday.

Kim Yong Chol is a four-star general, vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee, and director of the United Front Department, which is responsible for inter-Korean relations.

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