'Stephen Biegun, the United States envoy to Pyongyang has stressed that Washington will not settle for the incremental disarmament of North Korea and that it is aiming for complete denuclearisation by the end of US President Donald Trump’s first term in 2021.
“We are not going to do denuclearisation incrementally,” Mr Biegun told a conference in Washington hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in his first comments since the failed summit between Mr Trump and Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Vietnam, last month.
Mr Biegun insisted that sanctions would not be lifted unless Pyongyang completely eliminated its nuclear weapons, stressing that it was Washington’s goal to achieve this within the current administration.
"We stand by the expectation that if we fully mobilise our resources ... we could align ourselves in a manner sufficient to achieve this in something approaching a year," he said.
His statements marked a reversal from previous pronouncements emerging from the White House, with analysts warning that the hardening of the US position is an unrealistic strategy that will end in further stalemate with Pyongyang.
Ahead of the Hanoi meeting, Mr Trump had declared that he had “no pressing schedule” on denuclearisation. “As long as there is no [missile] testing, I’m in no rush,” he said.
Mr Biegun, meanwhile, had indicated in an speech at Stanford University at the end of January that the US was willing to take a more stage by stage approach to the issue – a policy favoured by Pyongyang.
“We have communicated to our North Korean counterparts that we are prepared to pursue – simultaneously and in parallel – all of the commitments our two leaders made in their joint statement at Singapore last summer,” he said, referring to the two leaders’ first meeting in the city-state last June.'
Read more: US will not accept 'incremental' disarmament, insists envoy to North Korea
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