Trump claim raises eye­brows

North Korea no longer a nuke threat?

The Western Star - - WORLD -

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 at the most sig­nif­i­cant diplo­matic event of his presidency, 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.

The sum­mit in Sin­ga­pore did mark a re­duc­tion in ten­sions — a sea change from last fall, when North Korea was con­duct­ing nu­clear and mis­sile tests and Trump and Kim were trad­ing threats and in­sults that stoked fears of war. Kim is now promis­ing to work to­ward a de­nu­cle­arized Korean Penin­sula.

But the de­tails of what is sure to be a com­plex and con­tentious process have yet to be set­tled.

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, leav­ing the two sides in a tech­ni­cal state of war.

“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. “We’re pre­pared to ex­e­cute this once we’re in a po­si­tion that we can ac­tu­ally get to a place where we can do it.’’

While Trump was fac­ing ques­tions at home and among al­lies about whether he gave away too much in re­turn for too lit­tle, North Korean state me­dia her­alded claims of a vic­to­ri­ous meet­ing with the U.S. pres­i­dent. Photos of Kim stand­ing side-by-side with Trump on the world stage were splashed across news­pa­pers.

Trump’s own chest-thump­ing tweet seemed rem­i­nis­cent of the “Mis­sion Ac­com­plished’’ ban­ner flown be­hind Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush in 2003 when he spoke aboard a Navy ship fol­low­ing the U.S. in­va­sion of Iraq. The words came back to haunt the ad­min­is­tra­tion, as the war dragged on through­out Bush’s presidency.

AP PHOTO

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ar­rives at An­drews Air Force Base af­ter a sum­mit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Sin­ga­pore, Wed­nes­day.

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