Washington had baulked at signing a comprehensive peace treaty before North Korea takes substantial steps toward denuclearisation, but US officials have signaled they may be willing to conclude a more limited agreement to reduce tensions, open liaison offices, and move toward normalizing relations.
The UN Security Council imposed increasingly tough sanctions on North Korea in response to its nuclear bomb and ballistic missile tests.
Yonhap quotes its source as saying that "the White House, when working-level talks begin, wants to set the conditions whereby they can begin the process of North Korea's denuclearization", and that the potential deal is important "as it allows the USA and the North to test their intentions and build trust, but in a way that furthers denuclearization and sanctions relief".
North Korea will maintain its nuclear arsenal for the next two decades and the United States' insistence on its rapid disarmament is an "unrealistic goal", according to a report by the Federation of American Scientists presented in Seoul on Friday.
An unnamed military source told Chosun Ilbo that the US Forces Korea estimate was based on a "comprehensive analysis of intelligence data collected from satellite, aircraft and radar surveillance" of North Korea's recent missile testing efforts.
At the February 27-28 summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, Kim and Trump fell short of a deal over the gap between Washington's insistence on denuclearization and Pyongyang's demand for economic sanctions relief.
Trump said at the time that Kim pledged to "totally" dismantle his country's main Yongbyon nuclear complex, but that the lifting of the sanctions would require Pyongyang to scrap other nuclear facilities and programs, including undeclared ones.
The U.S. government has been carefully analyzing what is behind the shift in North Korea's negotiating strategy.
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In an apparent attempt to coax Washington into making concessions, Pyongyang warned in April that it would consider suspending denuclearization negotiations.
Kim is believed to have conveyed the intention to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The United States hopes to see a freeze in the North Korean nuclear programme as the start of a process of denuclearisation, the State Department said on Tuesday, ahead of fresh talks with Pyongyang supposed to take place this month.
Afterward, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that working-level discussions between North Korea and the United States would resume "around the middle" of July, although no further details have been announced. During their warm encounter, which included South Korean President Moon Jae-in as well, Trump became the first sitting USA president to cross into North Korea.
The administration led by Clinton's successor, George W. Bush, issued a joint statement with other negotiating parties, including North Korea, in September 2005 in which it affirmed that "it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade the DPRK with nuclear or conventional weapons". North Korea would go on to test four more after Obama took office, two under the elder Kim and two more-both in Obama's final year in 2016-under the younger Kim.
North Korea has long called for a peace deal with the United States to normalize relations and end the technical state of war that has existed since the 1950-1953 Korean War concluded with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
Ortagus said Washington's goal remained the complete elimination of all of North Korea's weapons of mass destruction.