North Korea may have made more nuclear bombs, but threat reduced

US President Donald Trump at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda Maryland on Friday

General Robert Abrams, the new head of US Forces Korea, said last year's summit between the two leaders had helped reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula, but had not led to substantive changes.

Last week, Trump said he would hold his second meeting with Kim in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi on Feburary 27 and 28.

FILE PHOTO - People carry flags in front of statues of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung (L) and late leader Kim Jong Il during a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea's foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018.

Trump said in his annual State of the Union address to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday that he would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on February 27-28 in Vietnam, following their unprecedented meeting in June in Singapore.

The probability of the Olympic bid, however, relies on the state of North Korea's nuclear and ballistic program.

Trump, who has been a vocal critic of other nations failing to contribute for US military presence around the world, highlighted the cost of keeping troops in South Korea during an interview earlier this month. Their first summit in Singapore last June resulted in Kim's vague commitment to "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", a term that his propaganda machine previously used when it argued it would only denuclearize after the USA withdraws its troops from South Korea.

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"Pyongyang "is using civilian facilities, including airports, for ballistic missile assembly and testing with the goal of effectively preventing "decapitation" strikes" on a smaller number of identified nuclear and missile assembly and manufacturing sites", the United Nations report said.

Pyongyang has taken "the remarkable step" of ending nuclear weapons and long-range missile testing "at a time during which North Korea has been rapidly increasing the sophistication of its nuclear weapons and missiles and their destructive power and reach", researchers said. Richard Blumenthal of CT said the first meeting led to "a stark and stunning lack of any action [or] progress".

Kim pledged in Singapore to work toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and in September expressed willingness to permanently dismantle facilities at his country's main nuclear site of Yongbyon - in return for corresponding USA moves.

Seoul said Sunday it agreed to hike its payment for maintaining American troops on its soil, settling a dispute with its longtime ally ahead of a second summit between the USA and North Korea. The two sides had also difficulty on the final amount, as the Trump administration reportedly demanded an annual sum of around one billion dollars when the negotiations were close to an end late previous year.

Yonhap news agency reported that South Korea will provide about 1.04 trillion won ($924 million) in 2019.

In talks with the United States, North Korea has been seeking a lifting of punishing US-led sanctions, a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, and security guarantees.

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