Nu­clear threat past, ‘sleep well tonight’

Edmonton Journal - - WORLD - Matthew Pen­ning­ton and Josh Le­d­er­man

WASH­ING­TON •Amer­ica and the world can “sleep well tonight,” Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­clared on Wed­nes­day, boast­ing that his sum­mit with Kim Jong Un had ended any nu­clear threat from North Korea though the meet­ing pro­duced no de­tails on how or when weapons might be elim­i­nated or even re­duced.

While Trump claimed a his­toric break­through, Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo was more mea­sured. He said the U.S. wants North Korea to take “ma­jor” nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment steps within the next two years — be­fore the end of Trump’s first term in 2021.

Pom­peo also cau­tioned that the U.S. would re­sume “war games” with close ally South Korea if the North stops ne­go­ti­at­ing in good faith.

The pres­i­dent had an­nounced a halt in the drills af­ter his meet­ing with Kim on Tues­day, a con­ces­sion long sought by Py­ongyang.

De­spite the uncer­tain­ties, Trump talked up the out­come of what was the first meet­ing be­tween a U.S. and North Korean leader in six decades of hos­til­ity. The Korean War ended in 1953 with­out a peace treaty.

“Just landed — a long trip, but ev­ery­body can now feel much safer than the day I took of­fice,” Trump tweeted early Wed­nes­day. “There is no longer a Nu­clear Threat from North Korea. Meet­ing with Kim Jong Un was an in­ter­est­ing and very pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence. North Korea has great po­ten­tial for the fu­ture!”

Pom­peo, who flew to Seoul to brief South Korean lead­ers, said the brief, four-point joint state­ment that emerged from the sum­mit did not en­cap­su­late all the progress the U.S. and North Korea had made. He said ne­go­ti­a­tions would recom­mence “in the next week or so.”

He bris­tled at ques­tions from re­porters about the vague word­ing of the state­ment where North Korea “com­mits to work to­ward com­plete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean Penin­sula” — a prom­ise it has made sev­eral times be­fore in the past 25 years and re­neged on. Pom­peo said Kim un­der­stands that “there will be indepth ver­i­fi­ca­tion” in any deal with the U.S.

“We have big teams ready to go,” in­clud­ing ex­perts from the U.S. and other part­ners around the world, Pom­peo said.

In­de­pen­dent ex­perts say the North could have enough fis­sile ma­te­rial for be­tween about a dozen and 60 nu­clear bombs.

Last year it tested long-range mis­siles that could reach the U.S. main­land, al­though it re­mains un­clear if it has mastered the tech­nol­ogy to de­liver a nu­clear war­head that could re-en­ter the at­mos­phere and hit its tar­get.

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