By Bradford Richardson - 02/21/16 01:55 PM EST
The Obama administration secretly agreed to engage in peace talks with North Korea, dropping a condition that the rogue nation first take steps to dismantle its nuclear program, sources familiar with the situation told the Wall Street Journal.
The revised proposal would have reportedly called for North Korea’s nuclear program to simply be on the table at talks but was rejected by Pyongyang days before its latest nuclear-bomb test on Jan. 6.
American officials told the paper the counter-proposal was one of several attempts by the Obama administration to denuclearize North Korea during his second term while also negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program.
The White House had signaled to the Kim Jong Un regime that it is willing to cut a deal similar to that brokered with Iran to curtail its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
But North Korea has expedited its plans to develop a nuclear bomb, which it sees as a valuable bargaining chip in eventual peace negotiations.
A long-range rocket launched by North Korea earlier this month triggered additional international sanctions, including a law signed Thursday by President Obama imposing steeper penalties.
Kim, who took power at the end of 2011 following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, has demanded additional conditions for a treaty with South Korea, 63 years after the Korean War ended with an armistice.