Robert Abrams warns Kim Jong-un nuclear advance unchecked

Robert Abrams warns Kim Jong-un nuclear advance unchecked

US and North Korean officials are set to hold more talks next week but hopes for concrete steps toward North Korea's denuclearization are fading.

The comments underscore the stalled diplomacy between the USA and North Korea since President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un agreed last June in Singapore to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

If they continue to focus more on security and protocol than the denuclearization issue, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could end up meeting for another photo op, as they did past year in Singapore, but achieve little progress.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) bids farewell to South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) on Moon's departure from North Korea at Samjiyon airport on September 20, 2018 in Samjiyon, North Korea.

But skeptics say Pyongyang has taken few concrete steps since Singapore to reveal and scale back its nuclear arsenal, while complaining Washington has not followed through on easing economic and military pressure on the regime.

Despite a reduction in tensions along the DMZ [demilitarized zone] and a cessation of strategic provocations coupled with public statements of intent to denuclearize little to no verifiable change has occurred in North Korea's military capabilities.

North Korea remains the No. 1 immediate threat to American forces in the Indo-Pacific Command area of operations, said Adm. Philip Davidson, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command chief who testified alongside Abrams on Tuesday.

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Mr. Trump has denied he has disagreements with his intelligence agencies, while also saying the fruits of his diplomacy have been underrated. Currently, the Trump administration is trying to negotiate the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in exchange for sanctions relief and security guarantees for North Korea.

Trump said at a cabinet meeting in Washington on Tuesday Seoul had agreed to pay $500 million more as part of an agreement sharing the cost of keeping roughly 28,500 American troops stationed in South Korea. But plans for the second meeting are proceeding apace.

Mr. Kim is said to be considering a state visit to Hanoi ahead of the highly anticipated summit.

After the first summit, Trump tweeted that "there was no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea" and that "everybody can now feel much safer".

General Robert Abrams, the new head of US Forces Korea, said last year's summit between the two leaders had helped reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula, but had not led to substantive changes.

The Stanford report said that North Korea was likely to have continued work on warhead miniaturisation and to ensure they can stand up to delivery via intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Abrams downplayed the impact of curbing those high-level exercises on USA and South Korean troops' combat readiness, saying servicemembers have continued to conduct training exercises together on smaller scales.

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