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January 2020: Misrepresentations of North Korean denuclearization

At the first Trump-Kim summit in Singapore in June 2018, the leaders signed what Fox News described as "a vague statement" with a vision of "a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing when or how it would occur." On December 8, 2019, Trump tweeted that Kim had "signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore" and that Kim has "far too much to lose" to throw away this agreement. A North Korean official, Kim Yong Chol, responded with the correction that they feel that they "have nothing more to lose."

(Meanwhile, National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien referred to Kim Jong-un as "Chairman Un," rather than Chairman Kim.)

North Korea foreign ministry adviser Kim Kye Gwan said on 11 January 2020 that Donald Trump's birthday greeting to Kim Jong-Un was an insufficient basis on which to resume denuclearization talks.

The adviser referenced the second round of Trump-Kim talks, held in Vietnam in February 2019, at which Trump refused to lift sanctions on North Korea. The complete lifting of sanctions had been Kim's non-negotiable prerequisite for dismantling the Yongbyon nuclear complex. As "we know well that the US is neither ready nor able" to meet Kim's demands on this issue, the adviser explained, there will "never be such negotiations as that in Vietnam" again unless Trump changes his position. The year-and-a-half spent in dialogue was "lost time for us," the adviser said, because "we have been deceived by the US."

He warned that North Korea would no longer adhere to its own self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests. He announced that the world would soon hear of a "new strategic weapon."

Reuters quoted Prof Mason Richey at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul as explaining that "the US and North Korea have fundamentally different strategic interests with almost no meaningful overlap."

In an interview with Fox News host Bret Baier, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeated the White House line that Kim Jong-un "made a commitment that he would denuclearize. He has not walked back that commitment." This is not a complete, accurate picture.


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