Is N Korea actually ending its nuclear weapons programme?

North Korea doesn't appear to have taken steps to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme yet, a US official said.  

After the historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12, Mr Trump said North Korea had either begun to destroy a missile engine testing site or would begin dismantling it when he returned from the summit. 

But US defence secretary James Mattis has said he's unaware of any steps taken by North Korea to end its nuclear weapons programme since the summit in Singapore, the Guardian reports. 

Earlier this week, Yonhap news agency reported South Korea and the US would suspend "large-scale" military drills with the provision that they would restart if North Korea failed to keep its promise to denuclearise. 

This came after Mr Trump surprised officials in Seoul and Washington when he pledged to end "war games" after his summit with Mr Kim. Mr Trump said via Twitter that it was his initiative to suspend the military drills, a step North Korea has long sought.

 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said his government would need to be flexible when it came to applying military pressure on North Korea if it was sincere about denuclearisation.

But when Mr Mattis was asked by reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday if he could reveal any steps North Korea had taken to end its nuclear weapons programme, he said he wasn't aware of any. 

He said the "detailed negotiations" with North Korea hadn't yet begun. 

An engagement between US and North Korean officials was supposed to take place a week after the summit in Singapore. Mr Trump told a press conference after the summit that the following week he'd "go over the details" and "get this stuff done". 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed Mr Trump's comments the next day saying he didn't know exactly when the next negotiations with North Korea would be held, but expected it would be "fairly quickly after we return to our home countries."

But so far, those negotiations haven't taken place. Washington has been in touch with Pyongyang since the summit, the US state department confirmed on Tuesday, but there has been nothing to announce. 

According to the former director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council, Victor Cha, US officials were unable to convince North Korea to include language in the joint statement in Singapore committing to "complete, verifiable and irreversible" nuclear disarmament. 

"They did not get those but Trump went along with the meeting anyway, which means he cared more about the meeting than about the substance," Mr Cha told the Guardian. 

Newshub.