State Department Denies US Considering North Korea Sanctions Relief

South Korean media suggested sanctions relief would be offered for nuclear freeze

The US State Department was quick to disavow a report from South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, which suggested that the administration was considering sanctions relief in return for a nuclear freeze and the shutdown of the Yongbyon Research Site. The State Department says it was “completely false.

There are reasons to doubt the State Department’s denial. Though John Bolton has also angrily dismissed the idea of a nuclear freeze, other officials, including top US negotiator Steve Biegun, have confirmed that the US not only wants a freeze, but is willing to make concessions to get it.

But Biegun told reporters about the US intentions off the record, while both Bolton and the State Department’s denials were very public in their own ways. This may suggest the US doesn’t want their actual negotiating position to be on record.

Officials have emphasized that a nuclear freeze would be the beginning of a broader denuclearization deal, not a substitute for one. Those who were talking about it were willing to admit there would be some relief to North Korea for making that deal.

That’s sort of an obvious part, after the past round of negotiations collapsed after the US refused to offer anything until total denuclearization down the road. If the US wasn’t offering anything for the freeze, this would basically be the same deal.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of