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17th of July 2018

International



Donald Trump insists denuclearization in North Korea happening, despite evidence to contrary

Ahead of a new round of high-level denuclearization talks with North Korea, President Trump rebuked critics of the negotiations and declared Tuesday that he had already avoided war with the Communist regime.

The president insisted the two sides have been making progress in the three weeks since the Singapore summit where North Korean leader Kim Jong-un committed to complete denuclearization, although Pyongyang has not taken any visible steps toward dismantling its nuclear arsenal and there are reports of the opposite.

“Many good conversations with North Korea-it is going well!” tweeted Mr. Trump, claiming that the good relationship he forged with Mr. Kim already has paid off.

“In the meantime, no Rocket Launches or Nuclear Testing in 8 months. All of Asia is thrilled. Only the Opposition Party, which includes the Fake News, is complaining,” he tweeted. “If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!”

But satellite images have shown that in recent months North Korea has continued to work on a nuclear facility and missile factory, prompting some analysts to suggest Mr. Kim had already double-crossed Mr. Trump.

White House officials declined to comment the satellite images.

Meanwhile, top officials from the U.S. and North Korea are following up on the commitments reached at the June 12 summit in Singapore.

Sung Kim, the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, who has been a key member of negotiating team, met over the weekend with North Korean officials in the Demilitarized Zone between the Koreas.

The Trump administration said the talks made progress but would not elaborate.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is headed to Pyongyang for a meeting Thursday with Mr. Kim.

Mr. Pompeo, who has spearheaded the administration’s effort on North Korea, will be looking to put meat on the bones of the four-point declaration signed in Singapore.

Mr. Kim agreed to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for U.S. security guarantees.

Crucial details remain to be worked out, including Pyongyang’s supplying an inventory of its bombs and facilities, setting a timeline for dismantling them, and agreeing to a verification process.

The inventory will be a milestone in the denuclearization process.

The accuracy and completeness of the inventory, which the U.S. will able to partially verify based on spy satellite images and other intelligence, will tell whether North Korea is serious about giving up its nukes.

Mr. Pompeo also will be prodding Mr. Kim to make good on the promise he made in Singapore to return the human remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War.

The U.S. military has been preparing for the return of between 100 and 200 human remains through the DMZ, though North Korea has not yet turned over anything.

It will be Mr. Pompeo’s fourth face-to-face meeting with Mr. Kim. They met twice in Pyongyang in preparations for the summit, and at the Singapore meeting itself.

Mr. Pompeo has seen encouraging signs in the ongoing talks, but he’s also acknowledged that the deal could still collapse at any time.

“Both parties understand red lines, things that neither country is prepared to go past, that give us an opportunity to believe that we really might for the first time — this is not the first rodeo negotiating with North Korea — that perhaps this time is different,” he said in a recent interview with Hugh Hewitt on MSNBC.

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