Trump strikes cautious note ahead of summit, says long way to go on N Korea crisis
Washington: US President Donald Trump said the North Korean nuclear crisis was a long way from being resolved, striking a cautious note a day after the North’s pledge to end its nuclear tests raised hopes before planned summits with South Korea and the United States.
“We are a long way from conclusion on North Korea, maybe things will work out, and maybe they won’t – only time will tell,” Trump said on Twitter.
North Korea said on Saturday it was suspending nuclear and missile tests and scrapping its nuclear test site, and instead pursuing economic growth and peace.
World leaders welcomed the announcement, but some expressed doubts about Kim’s intentions and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will be under intense international scrutiny when he meets him on Friday at the first North Korea-South Korea summit in more than a decade.
In a tweet minutes before he tempered enthusiasm about the North’s statement, Trump interpreted it as a pledge to denuclearize: “Wow, we haven’t given up anything & they have agreed to denuclearization (so great for World), site closure, & no more testing!”
However, Kim’s announcement did not include a commitment to scrap existing nuclear weapons and missiles, and there are doubts he would ever give up the nuclear arsenal his country has been developing for decades.
The Trump administration said that Pyongyang would have to substantially dismantle its nuclear progra before US concessions.
“We are looking for substantial dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear progra first, and until denuclearization is achieved the global maximum pressure campaign will continue,” a White House National Security Council spokesman told Reuters.
Kim said North Korea no longer needed to test nuclear bombs or intercontinental ballistic missiles now that his country had the weapons, and he would gear all efforts toward economic development.
With past failures in mind, some expressed concern about the North’s intentions.
“North Korea has a long history of raising the issue of denuclearisation and has committed to freeze its nuclear weapons programmes in the past. We all remember how those pledges and commitments went down over past decades,” said Nam Sung-wook, a professor of North Korean Studies at Korea University in Seoul.
“Although the North’s announcement is quite dramatic, it’s natural for the world to be extra sensitive to every word spoken by Kim.”