Denuclearizing North Korea: A verified, phased approach

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Science  07 Sep 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6406, pp. 981-983
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau4817

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At the June 2018 Singapore Summit, North Korea agreed to the goal of “complete denuclearization” in exchange for “security guarantees” by the United States, including an end to enmity (1). Like earlier efforts in the 1990s and 2000s, the current round of diplomacy may well fail because of the challenges of balancing North Korean insistence on the primacy of building trust and cooperation with U.S. demands for progress on denuclearization. Any successful attempt to balance these priorities will have to resolve the thorny question of verification. Here, we propose a phased approach for verified denuclearization that relies on technical measures and tools to allow for the scope, pace, and intrusiveness of denuclearization to reflect progress in political confidence building. More broadly, successfully bridging the goals of denuclearization and political security for North Korea could inform judgments by the international community about how to approach verified disarmament for other states that currently have nuclear weapons.