Until we can verify North Korea is changing, we cannot trust it is

It would be nice to believe news from North Korea this week is evidence that country’s regime is serious about the “denuclearization” deal with President Donald Trump.

Indeed, the report sounded very, very good: “North Korea appears to have started dismantling key facilities at its main satellite launch site in a step toward fulfilling a commitment made by Kim Jong Un at his summit with President Donald Trump in June,” The Associated Press revealed this week.

Among facilities being dismantled were a rocket engine test stand used for the regime’s ballistic missle program.

Perhaps Kim is moving to keep his promise to Trump. Be assured, however, that if he is it is not out of the goodness of his heart. It may be that Trump’s rhetoric, though far from matching Kim’s in terms of bellicosity, has worried the North Korean leader.

Let us hope so.

But if Kim is lying, it would not be the first time a North Korean leader has pledged to dial back the aggressiveness — then has gone back on his word.

Kim’s regime was built on militarism.

So until and unless U.S. intelligence agencies can confirm Kim is backing away from his nuclear devices and missiles, put away the party hats and noise makers. If he holds true to form, he is engaged in no more than a massive campaign of deception — all the while planning to build more rockets and bombs.

The question in the White House now should be what to do if that is Kim’s scheme. What not to do is what U.S. officials have done for decades. We simply cannot pretend we have been successful when we have not.