CIA: No Way North Korea Denuclearizes, But They Might Open A Burger Joint

According to a report by NBC News, a CIA analysis from last week concludes that North Korea won't be giving up their nuclear weapons anytime soon, but they might be willing to put a Western hamburger franchise in Pyongyang as a show of goodwill, according to three national security officials who illegally leaked details of the alleged internal report.

The CIA assessment casts doubt on whether Trump can achieve his stated goal for the negotiations - that being the complete elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons stockpile and a halt to their nuclear weapons program.

"Everybody knows they are not going to denuclearize," said one intelligence official who read the report, which was circulated earlier this month, days before Trump canceled the originally scheduled summit. -NBC News

The analysis also concludes that a more realistic objective in the near term would be convincing Kim to walk back recent developments made by North Korean nuclear scientists, rather than a full denuclearization.

"If the North Koreans don't agree in a joint statement that lays out denuclearization — that is, getting rid of their nuclear weapons, having them put under control by international elements — then I don't think we are going to go very far," said former ambassador to South Korea, Chris Hill in a Tuesday appearance on MSNBC. 

And while there's no way Kim will actually denuclearize, say the leakers, he might be willing to introduce a Western hamburger franchise in Pyongyang as a peaceful gesture to President Trump - who loves hamburgers and said he wanted to talk nukes over a burger with Kim Jong Un. 

The alleged CIA report coincides with a new paper written by Sigfried Hecker, a Stanford professor and former director of Los Alamos laboratory in New Mexico, who says that full denuclearization in North Korea could take as long as 15 years.

Hecker, who has toured North Korean nuclear facilities four times, argues that the sprawling nature of the North Korean program will require a long time to dismantle. "Although US should be prepared to accept all concessions Kim is willing to make early on, such as closing the nuclear test site, it must be prepared for a phased approach," reads the report, which also lays out the steps required for disarmament.

We’re talking about dozens of sites, hundreds of buildings, and thousands of people,” Dr. Hecker said Friday. The key to dismantling the sprawling atomic complex, begun six decades ago, Dr. Hecker added, “is to establish a different relationship with North Korea where its security rests on something other than nuclear weapons.” -NYT

“They’re not going to eliminate everything, and there are some things that aren’t a problem,” Dr. Hecker said, adding “Some of the risks are manageable.”

President Trump said during the 2016 campaign that he would like to meet with Kim Jong Un in a low-key setting that entailed "eating a hamburger on a conference table." 

The CIA report does not specify which fast-food brand could be invited to North Korea, but said Kim envisioned that the establishment could be used to provide food during the talks and would show that he was open to Western investment. -NBC News

The report also notes that during preliminary talks North Korean officials have not made any demands that the U.S. remove all troops from South Korea, nor are they expected to make the request at any initial summit. The CIA analysis also says that South Korean president Moon Jae-in thinks he has a strong rapport with Kim, and that South Korea has been considering ending the decades-long war between the two nations.

The United States, meanwhile, has dropped any human rights demands as part of the talks, according to a current and a former official. North Korea reportedly holds between 80,000 and 120,000 prisoners in prison camps. 

The former official said the U.S. approach to North Korea was broken down into phases, each of which would bring corresponding gestures of aid and sanctions relief. First, the Trump administration wants North Korea to declare all details of its nuclear program, dispose of fissile material and close some sites.

The U.S. would then press for international inspections and a gradual elimination of nuclear weapons. The American side would like to all but eliminate fissile material in North Korea. -NBC News

The burning question, of course, is whether Kim will agree to any of that at the end of the day.