A look at the complex path to Korean Peninsula denuclearization

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A look at the complex path to Korean Peninsula denuclearization

Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will be extremely complicated– technically and politically.

CGTN’s Jim Spellman explains the steps to remove such an arsenal.

Experts say there are three basic steps to denuclearization.
First: production of new weapons and fissile material, like enriched uranium and plutonium, must stop. Next, nuclear facilities must be closed and rendered inoperable and finally, the existing weapons stockpiles must be safely dismantled.

There are signs the DPRK has already begun the first two steps: halting testing in April and at least partially destroying a test site in May.

Dismantling the existing arsenal would likely mean transporting them weapons to secure locations in a country with advanced nuclear expertise like Russia or the United States. A robust verification system will be key to any agreement. The International Atomic Energy Agency says it is ready to take on monitoring duties.

Beyond the technical aspects, there are considerable political challenges to denuclearization. In exchange for giving up its weapons, the DPRK will receive concessions from the U.S. — including sanctions relief and security assurances. Timing will be key to any denuclearization effort.

“When the U.S. talks about denuclearization, they want it to be a short easy. But for the DPRK side, when they talk about denuclearization, it’s not just them coming and bringing their nukes and putting them on the table and saying what can we get for this, but it an action for action process. It’s one where they need to see normalized relations over time,” Jenny Town, managing editor of 38 North said.

A denuclearization effort of this scale has never been attempted before. In the early 1990s, South Africa dismantled its arsenal of six nuclear weapons and one partially completed weapon. But the DPRK is thought to have between 30 and 60 completed weapons. Even if all sides agree to do this as quickly as possible, the effort will likely take years.