Yahoo News explains: North Korea's elusive path to denuclearization

On Sunday, North Korea staged a military parade as it marked the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding. At events like this, the country commonly showcases its military might and developments in missile technology, but no long-range missiles were displayed this year. Instead, the parade focused on conventional arms, peace and economic development as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sat with a special envoy from China. There also weren’t any nuclear tests to mark the holiday, as has happened in the last two years.

President Trump, who met with Kim for a denuclearization summit in Singapore in June, tweeted his gratitude on Sunday.  

While Trump’s public rhetoric may tell one story, his administration is still cracking down on North Korea with its “maximum pressure” campaign. Since the historic Singapore summit, negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program appear to have stalled. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s diplomatic trip to North Korea was canceled two weeks before the parade because significant progress towards denuclearization wasn’t being made.

But according to China state TV, Kim said at the parade that he has taken steps toward denuclearization and planned to uphold the peace resolution.

Is North Korea’s latest military parade a ruse?

The newest intelligence shows Kim’s regime has actually expanded efforts to hide its nuclear activity, according to three senior U.S. officials cited in an NBC report. Since the historic denuclearization summit, North Korea has built structures to conceal the entrance to one warhead storage facility, according to the officials. A former senior U.S. official quoted in the same NBC report said North Korea often moves equipment around to block foreign intelligence gathering. U.S. intelligence estimates North Korea could produce five to eight new nuclear weapons in 2018 — which is similar to the pace before the Trump-Kim summit.

On Monday, the White House confirmed the president recently received a letter from Kim Jong Un. “The primary purpose of the letter was to request and look to schedule another meeting with the president, which we are open to and are already in the process of coordinating that,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.