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White House Is Considering Relieving Sanctions on North Korea for 12-18 Months, Says Yonhap

July 11, 2019, (EIRNS)—South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing “a source close to White House deliberations on North Korea,” reported today that the United States “is considering offering a 12- to 18-month suspension of certain sanctions on North Korea in exchange for the dismantlement of its main nuclear facility and a freeze of the entire nuclear program.”

The unnamed source reportedly discussed various elements of this possible step-by-step approach with Yonhap and two other press outlets. Beyond details, the primary message delivered by the source a few days before U.S.-North Korea negotiations are expected to resume, is that the U.S. is seeking “to build trust, in a way that furthers denuclearization and sanctions relief.”

As the source told Yonhap:

“The White House is open to many ideas to incentivize the North to make what they call ‘a critical first step’ on denuclearization. ... Their first goal in the talks is to prove to the North that they can trust the U.S. and that Washington wants to do something historic to ensure the hostile intent of both sides is now firmly in the past.”

Midafternoon, after Yonhap’s story on this “potential offer” had been widely reported by international media without being contested, a denial came from State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus. When asked, Ortagus replied:

“So while we don’t preview any sort of sanctions from the podium, whether it’s adding new ones or taking them away, I will say that I did actually speak to [White House North Korea envoy] Steve Biegun about that, and he categorically denied that. He said that report is completely false, so there is no truth to that.”

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