The United States on Thursday dismissed North Korea's conditional offer to dismantle a key nuclear site, saying denuclearization must come before concessions.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed a willingness in this week's joint summit agreement with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to permanently shut down the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon if the U.S. took "corresponding measures."
Asked if the U.S. was prepared to comply, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. position has not changed.
"I think I'd just go back to what I've said about that very issue before, and that nothing can happen in the absence of denuclearization," she said during a regular press briefing. "Denuclearization has to come first."
Kim also committed to permanently dismantle a missile testing site in front of international inspectors but stopped short of naming particular groups or countries, including the U.S.
There appeared to be a discrepancy in U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's statement Wednesday that welcomed Kim's decision to dismantle the nuclear and missile facilities "in the presence of U.S. and IAEA inspectors" and "in the presence of U.S. and international inspectors," respectively.
"Having IAEA inspectors and United States inspectors be a part of anything is really just a shared understanding," Nauert said. "Anytime you have a nuclear situation like this where there is a dismantlement, the expectation is that IAEA inspectors would be a part of that. So that would just be a normal course of doing business. We have that shared understanding with the countries."
The U.S. has had that discussion with North Korea, and the two Koreas have discussed it, too, the spokeswoman said, adding, "That is our mutual understanding." (Yonhap)