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Even though North Korea has reneged on similar promises in the past, Kim Jong Un's promise to allow international observers into the isolated country to monitor the dismantling of the North's Yongbyon nuclear reactor and several missile-launching sites has apparently persuaded the US to restart negotiations to drop sanctions against the regime after they stalled out over the summer.

In what may be another example of the North telling the US what it wants to hear, Kim has reportedly requested another meeting with Trump while promising to quickly surrender all of his country's nukes, according to South Korean leader Moon Jae-in, who shared the news at a press conference Thursday. Kim also wants Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to return to North Korea for another meeting (a visit that had been planned for last month was canceled by Trump as talks stalled). 

In a sign that negotiations are set to begin again in earnest, Pompeo has invited Ri Yong-hu, North Korea’s foreign minister, to a meeting in New York next week after the secretary of state set a goal to complete the North's denuclearization process by the time President Trump's term ends in January 2021, Reuters reports,

Pompeo

Despite the renewed enthusiasm surrounding the talks, several anonymous US officials said they remain skeptical of the North's intentions. Specifically, they're worried the North could be deliberately attempting to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul.

While North Korea has pledged to "work toward" denuclearization", these commitments have been vague. Yet the US insists that the North must commitment to removing its arsenal if it wants easing of international sanctions and an end to the Korean war.

Some U.S. officials were deeply skeptical. Speaking before Pompeo’s announcement, two senior U.S. officials involved in U.S.-North Korea policy voiced fears Kim was trying to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul.

At the summit, the two Koreas agreed on plans to resume economic cooperation, including working to reconnect rail and road links. They agreed as well to restart a joint factory park in a border city of Kaesong and tours to the North’s Mount Kumgang resort, when conditions are met.

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"There is nothing the North has offered so far that would constitute irreversible movement toward denuclearization, however you define that, by January 2021 or any other time, or even a reduction of the military threat it poses to the South and the region," said a U.S. intelligence official.

"Everything that’s out there now is conditional on U.S. actions that would reduce the pressure on the North to cooperate or (is) filled with loopholes and exit ramps," added the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

And even if North Korea shuts down Yongbyon, many in the US intelligence community suspect the country has other hidden nuclear facilities. It's also notable that this week's meeting between Kim and Moon failed to yield a commitment from the North to surrender its entire nuclear arsenal. This could become a serious problem as the ambiguity about Washington's and North Korea's respective commitments could give Kim room to argue that the US hasn't fulfilled its pledges.

"What North Korea really wants and their priorities may be different from ours," the official told reporters on Thursday on condition of anonymity.

"We’re talking about a package that would carry many elements, including the declaration of the facilities, Yongbyon and Tongchang-ri, which are of U.S. interest, and from the North side, the issues of normalizing relations, ending the war and easing sanctions."

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"What North Korea really wants and their priorities may be different from ours," the official told reporters on Thursday on condition of anonymity.

"We’re talking about a package that would carry many elements, including the declaration of the facilities, Yongbyon and Tongchang-ri, which are of U.S. interest, and from the North side, the issues of normalizing relations, ending the war and easing sanctions."

Despite these concerns, President Trump responded enthusiastically to the latest agreement. "I'm calm, I'm calm - so we'll see what happens," Trump told reporters. One thing is clear: While Trump can credibly claim the detente as a major foreign policy victory - Pompeo's ambitious agenda could influence the US to make unreasonable concessions to clinch a political win before the 2020 vote. Kim likely knows this, and will try to wring every ounce of leverage out of it that he can.