U.S. President Donald Trump said this week he is in "no rush whatsoever" to eliminate North Korea's nuclear weapons. That is unacceptable. Pyongyang's strategy is to keep those weapons and critical to the success of that policy is habituating others to its nuclear status. The world must not be tricked. North Korea cannot be accepted as a nuclear weapons state and it must remain under sanctions until it makes genuine and irreversible steps toward dismantlement.

Since his first summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June 2018, Trump has insisted that he ended that country's nuclear threat. While Pyongyang has halted all nuclear and missile tests for nearly a year and a half, there is little evidence to suggest that the threat is over. The mere suspension of tests after the program has reached maturation and the dismantling of old, outdated facilities is little reason to believe that Pyongyang will give up a nuclear arsenal that it has scrimped and sacrificed for, a capability enshrined in the nation's constitution and one that is considered the ultimate guarantor of the regime's survival and status.

In testimony last month to the Senate Intelligence Committee, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats concurred, noting that North Korea was "unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities," which the country's leaders consider "critical to the regime's survival." Thae Yong Ho, the highest-ranking North Korean diplomat to defect to South Korea, provided insight into Kim's thinking, warning last week that "no money in the world will convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons."