Trump’s Negotiator Signals Flexibility on North Korea Talks

Says US could make concessions for a nuclear freeze

On Monday, John Bolton angrily denied reports that the US was contemplating a nuclear freeze deal with North Korea, condemning the New York Times for making the report, and calling for “consequences” for the paper for even suggesting it.

The report was apparently true, however, with Trump’s top North Korea negotiator, Steve Biegun, telling reporters about the idea in an off-the-record briefing which only became public later, after Bolton accused the media of making the idea up.

Biegun said the point of a nuclear freeze was not to abandon the goal of complete denuclearization, but rather to reach an interim deal with some US concession in return for a guarantee that North Korea is not making anything new.

Biegun said it was clear the US wouldn’t lift all sanctions just for a freeze, and it wouldn’t be about recognizing North Korea as a nuclear power. He did, however, say the US might offer humanitarian aid, or improved diplomatic ties in the interim.

This is potentially a major turning point, as previously the US had opposed offering anything to North Korea until years later, after denuclearization was completely finalized. North Korea has wanted some improvement in the meantime, and has seen the US refusing to offer anything as a sign they are not sincere in their offers.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of