President Trump announced at a cabinet meeting on Thursday that North Korea’s process of total denuclearization “has already started,” citing the destruction of an engine site and four big testing sites for their missile program.
North Korea suspended nuclear and missile testing when the peace process began earlier this year, and has committed to dismantling its entire nuclear weapons program. US officials have said they hope to see “major progress” toward that in two and a half years.
In addition to the pledge, North Korea had already collapsed their lone nuclear testing site in the country. Details are scant on the four “big testing sites” Trump is referring to in this new announcement. North Korea did begin dismantling Sohae Satellite Launching Ground earlier this month.
Destroying testing sites is a key first step in denuclearization, as it has a lasting impacting on development capabilities. While the total denuclearization is also going to require dismantling the existing nuclear arsenal, that’s going to take quite a bit of time, and slow progress won’t have the same diplomatic pop that the test sites’ destruction will.