The U.S. State Department has repeatedly announced that it will not put a timeline for North Korea’s denuclearization. "I know that some individuals have given timelines. We are not going to provide a timeline for that," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said at a regular press briefing, answering to a question of whether U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton’s remarks to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons within a year would be the official stance of the U.S. government. She also said, “The secretary has been very clear and very blunt with the North Koreans about what he expects.”
The State Department’s briefing, held two days before U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s third visit to North Korea, can be interpreted as a gesture not to officially pressure North Korea regarding denuclearization deadlines. It is seen as U.S. intention not to undermine the mutual trust between the two countries at a time when the follow-up negotiations are taking place. Still, it should not mean that it will not suggest any timeline at all. Washington’s response can be viewed that it is time for Pyongyang to present detailed answers and measures, after Pompeo’s last two visits to North Korea.
State Department spokesperson Nauert stressed that “The U.S. policy remains unchanged. It is the same prior to the U.S.-North Korea summit.” As the U.S. policy remains firm on the principle of no economic sanctions relief without denuclearization, it is North Korea, not the United States, which would be desperate. Thus Washington believes that Pyongyang would act swiftly on its own for denuclearization if it wishes to be free from the sanctions. This would also explain why President Trump appears to be unhurried.
However, North Korea has repeatedly let the United States down on several occasions, which is why U.S. media is questioning North Korea’s concealment of nuclear facilities and suspicions on nuclear capacity expansion. The Trump administration is completely aware of such situations, but it is giving Kim Jong Un time to take action, on the belief that the incumbent leader would be different from his predecessors. But it will not wait forever. Pyongyang should respond with a “facilitated denuclearization timeline” before the expectations of Washington turn into disappointment and anger.