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Trump Declares North Korea ‘No Longer a Nuclear Threat’

14 June 2018

Tough sanctions will remain on North Korea until its complete denuclearization, the US secretary of state said on Thursday, apparently contradicting the North's view that the process agreed at this week's summit would be phased and reciprocal.

Earlier Wednesday, North Korea's state KCNA news agency said denuclearisation would be a "step by step process" with "simultaneous action", a stance that appeared to contradict the U.S. refusal to offer sanctions relief before North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons. He insisted that Trump had been explicit about the sequencing from the start.

South Korea and the United States forces themselves were shocked by the news, but North Korea and China both seized on this concession. "Only then will there be relief from the sanctions".

In his post-summit press conference, Trump made the surprise announcement that the U.S. would halt joint military exercises with its security ally Seoul - a concession Pyongyang has sought for decades.

China is set to overtake the United States as the world's dominant power within the coming decades.

"We're going to get denuclearization", Pompeo said at a press conference following trilateral talks with South Korea's foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha and Japan's foreign minister Tarō Kōno. "North Korea's commitment "to work toward" disarmament is analogous to the language that binds the five accepted nuclear weapons states". That concession to Kim appeared to catch the Pentagon and officials in Seoul off guard, and some South Koreans were alarmed.

Trump's rush to claim credit for the supposed disappearance of the North Korean nuclear threat may also give nations like China and Russian Federation an incentive to ease stringent implementation of the "maximum pressure" sanctions that helped bring Pyongyang to the table.

As he flew home from Singapore, Trump was already shifting his attention back to this season's larger story arc.

The likelihood of Kim Jong Un launching a first strike against the US, thereby bringing on "fire and fury", was low. But simultaneously, Seoul is aiming to prepare its defenses in case the US decides to halt joint military exercises indefinitely or pull out the around 28,000 troops it has stationed inside South Korea's borders.

Pompeo, who is scheduled to travel to Beijing Thursday, said he isn't sure when the next conversation with North Korea will next take place but that it could happen "fairly quickly" - as soon as the coming week. He said negotiations would recommence "in the next week or so".

"We need to cultivate our garden, and that means paying attention to our alliances with Seoul and Tokyo, and leaving no doubt about our commitment to defense and deterrence for their security and ours", Robert Gallucci, a former American chief negotiator on North Korean issues, wrote after the summit.

But the new epoch envisioned here by Trump and Kim may be one in which the United States loses its grip on Asia, and then the world, and the new future will likely be ruled from Beijing, not Washington.

Irrelevant, Pompeo argued Thursday in Seoul, noting that because the deal makes reference to a previous agreement that did include verification, it automatically "incorporates" verification without having to state it outright.

The Secretary of State also added that Trump's tweet was made with "eyes wide open".

Where will the Singapore summit lead the US?

Trump said, 'We're flying planes in from Guam, we're bombing empty mountains for practice.

Critics pointed to the lack of specifics in the agreement while questioning whether Trump gave up too much while securing too little in return during his several hours of talks with Kim in what was the first meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

Trump and Kim were returning to their respective strongholds following the talks - but to far different receptions.

As Trump acknowledged that denuclearization would not be accomplished overnight, the North suggested Wednesday that Trump had moved away from his demand for complete denuclearization before US sanctions on the long-isolated country are removed.

Trump Declares North Korea ‘No Longer a Nuclear Threat’