Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emerged from two days of talks in Pyongyang to announce that his meeting with North Korean officials included “hours of productive discussion.” However, it’s not clear what kind of progress Pompeo is talking about. Because the Associated Press reports that those officials offered a very different take.
[A statement by North Korea] said the outcome of the follow-up talks was “very concerning” because it has led to a “dangerous phase that might rattle our willingness for denuclearization that had been firm.”
The Singapore mini-summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un rewarded North Korea with global attention, an end to US-South Korea military exercises, and an opening to decrease international sanctions. For these big prizes, Trump collected Kim’s name on a document making broad promises about denuclearization that included no timeline, no guidelines, and not the slightest clue about how the goal would be obtained.
Trump returned to the United States telling America to “sleep well” and that the risk of conflict with North Korea was over. Since then, Trump has used his meeting with Kim at several rallies and frequent tweets, making false statements that everyone “expected us to be at war with North Korea” under President Obama, and restating his admiration for Kim, with whom he “got along really well.”
However, Trump’s statements have proved to be worth as much as … other Trump statements. Satellite imagery has demonstrated that North Korea is continuing to improve facilities for manufacturing missiles and nuclear material since the Singapore meeting. And the latest round of talks shows that no one should be “sleeping well.” North Korea has already walked away from detailed agreements in the past. Donald Trump didn’t even bother to collect one.
Members of Trump’s staff have suggested that they might have to reevaluate the situation if North Korea tried to step away from the agreement. However, North Korea says that it’s Trump who is trying to breach the deal.
Either North Korea lied to Trump about making a deal to denuclearize, or Trump lied to the world about having made such a deal in the first place. Because Trump insisted on meeting with Kim one-on-one, it may not be possible to determine who is lying. It also may not matter.
“We had expected that the U.S. side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust based on the spirit of the leaders’ summit … we were also thinking about providing reciprocal measures,” said the statement, released by an unnamed spokesman and carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.
Were thinking of reciprocal measures seems to be the same as not now thinking of giving up anything.
So far, the results of the Singapore meeting seem to be Kim got pretty much everything on his list. Trump got bupkis. And now North Korean officials are saying that Trump is trying to impose an agreement after the fact — which seems all too possible considering how Trump agreed to go into the talks with no requirements, then tried to make them afterward.