North Korea ‘no longer a nuclear threat’, says Trump

‘Major disarmament’ goal by 2020, says Secretary of State Pompeo

Trump said Wednesday, June 13, that North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat, upon returning to Washington from his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that while there was still “a great deal of work to do”, the U.S. hopes to reach “major disarmament” within the next 2-½ years.

Arriving in Washington, Trump tweeted, “Just landed — a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office.  There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”

In a following tweet, he lauded his meeting by tweeting: “Before taking office people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea.  President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem.  No long – sleep well tonight!”

But Trump’s judgement of his meeting was countered by Democrat lawmakers who said North Korea should still be seen as a threat — arguing the agreement was short on detail.

“One trip and it’s ‘mission accomplished,’ Mr. President?,” tweeted Rep.  Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), adding that North Korea was still in possession of its nuclear missiles and that the promise was still vague.  “North Korea is a real and present threat.  So is a dangerously naive president.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), also highlighting North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, said the U.S. was still in danger.

“What planet is the president on?,” asked Schumer on the Senate floor.  “Somehow President Trump thinks when he says something it becomes reality.  If it were only that easy, only that simple.”

But House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said Wednesday that Trump deserves credit for the meeting which was the first to have happened between a North Korean leader and sitting U.S. president.

“The status quo was not working with North Korea,” Ryan told reporters.  “The president should be applauded for disrupting the status quo.”

Acknowledging North Korea’s volatile past, he added that the U.S. should be “under no illusion of our experiences with North Korea” which he called a “terrible regime.”

“They’ve done terrible things and they’ve been deceitful in the past,” said Ryan.  

“But it’s really important that we disrupt the status quo like the president has,” he added.

He further said that he was “encouraged” by the denuclearization negotiations being done between North Korea and Pompeo, also adding that “We should be under no illusion that it’s going to be fast.”  

Trump and Kim at the Tuesday, June 12 meeting signed a broad statement calling for a “firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

Trump described the meeting in earlier tweets as “an interesting and very positive experience.”

While not much detail was provided for the denuclearization process, he said they were starting the process “very, very quickly.”

One sudden step already taken has been Trump’s announcement that the U.S. military would halt joint military exercises with South Korea which have taken place since the 1970s and have long aggravated North Korea.

“We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money,” said Trump.  “Plus I think it is very provocative. 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in — seemingly caught by surprise — responded by saying, “At this moment, we need to figure out President Trump’s accurate meaning and intention.”

North Korea’s state-run media was quick to report on the meeting — hailing the summit a success.

The nation’s Rodong Sinmun vaguely reported the nuclear dismantling process as a “step-by-step” process.  Official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Kim saying “Singapore is clean and beautiful and every building is stylish as he heard of i the past, adding he is going to learn a lot from the good knowledge and experience of Singapore in various fields in the future.”

Among the U.S. Delegation was Department of State Secretary Mike Pompeo; White House Chief of Staff, General John Kelly; National Security Advisor, Ambassador John Bolton; Press Secretary Sarah Sanders; U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim; and Deputy Assistant to the President for Asian Affairs, Matthew Pottinger.

Rocky G7

Trump’s meeting with Kim followed what turned out to be a difficult G7 Summit in Quebec last Friday, June 8, where Trump met with group leaders of the six other industrialized nations.  

Amidst an ongoing trade war with allied nations, Trump threatened to stop trades with countries that did not remove tariffs on U.S. goods — a move he said was a “very profitable answer.”

“We have a tremendous trade imbalance,” said Trump during a Saturday press conference following the G7.  “With one country, we have $375 billion in trade deficits.”

Trump has imposed tariffs on aluminum and steel from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union in recent weeks.  Just days before the G7, Trump in a tweet, accused  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron of  “charging the U.S. massive tariffs and creating non-monetary barriers.”

Further adding fuel to flame, Trump tweeted Saturday that he had instructed U.S. representatives not to endorse the G7 communique that had been made out at the summit.

This, after Trudeau said that Canada would go through with retaliatory tariffs on July 1.

He said he told Trump that “it would be with regret but it would be with absolute clarity and firmness that we move forward with retaliatory measures on July 1, applying equivalent tariffs to the ones that the Americans have unjustly applied to us.”

“Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around,” said Trudeau.  

Trump also at the G7, called for Russia to be readmitted into the G7, despite Russia’s occupation in Crimea.

“I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in,” said Trump at a press conference at the summit.   “I think it would be good for the world.  I think it would be good for Russia.  I think it would be good for the United States.  I think it would be good for all of the countries of the current G7.  I think the G8 would be better.”

Formerly part of what was the G8, Russia was suspended from the group in 2014 as the majority of the group’s member countries united against its occupation of Crimea — the first breach of a European country’s borders since World War II.

“I would say that the G8 is a more meaningful group than the G7, absolutely,” said the U.S. president, blaming his predecessor for Crimea’s annexation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that talks of letting Russia back in were not on the table.

“We agree that a return by Russia to the G7 format cannot happen as long as there isn’t any substantial progress in regard to the problems with Ukraine.  That was a common view,” said Merkel at a press conference Friday, June 8.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed the consensus on Saturday, June 9 and said that Trump’s request was “not something we are even remotely looking at.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said to journalists Saturday that Russia would be able to rejoin the summit if Moscow were to honor the Minsk agreements which were meant to end the crisis in Ukraine.

“For four years, we have been saying we will extend again if and when the Minsk agreements are respected,” said Macron.  “We will, but only when and if the Minsk agreements are respected.  So it’s up to Russia now.  As soon as the agreements are upheld, we will open the game.  And that’s really my wish.  I’d like to have a G8 in Beatrix next year and that will be because the Russians fulfill the conditions of the Minsk agreements.” (Rae Ann Varona/AJPress)

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