After meeting with a high-level North Korean official at the White House, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the summit with Workers’ Party of Korea Chairman Kim Jong Un would be held on June 12 in Singapore as originally scheduled, despite the fact that the President had cancelled it at one point.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “We’ve made real progress in the last 72 hours (toward U.S.-DPRK consultations).” President Trump described it as the “start of a process,” explaining that there will be no document signing at the June 12 summit. He likely thinks that a comprehensive denuclearization agreement will not come together in one meeting and that further summits will be needed.
This suggests that differences remain between the U.S. and DPRK regarding the content of denuclearization and the steps involved. We must not engage in wishful thinking.
The DPRK is a dictatorship ruled by Mr. Kim. We can understand that President Trump will meet with him directly, press for denuclearization, and try to have him take concrete action.
But we are concerned by President Trump’s elation.
A policy of not removing sanctions until North Korea denuclearizes is appropriate, but Mr. Trump said, “I don’t even want to use the term ‘maximum pressure’ anymore because we’re getting along.” He said he would not impose more sanctions as the talks continue. There is a risk that the international community’s network of sanctions against North Korea may be relaxed.
The President said that “some kind of peace agreement to formally end the Korean War may be an outcome of the summit.” If this precedes denuclearization, it could become a kind of “reward” for North Korea that lowers the military pressure it feels.
We cannot forget that North Korea came to the negotiation table precisely because it was subject to strong pressure both economically and militarily.
We would like once again to ask Mr. Trump to staunchly uphold the principle of not giving North Korea rewards until it promptly realizes true denuclearization. We also ask the President to maintain close contact with Japan and other allies.
At a talk in Singapore, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis clearly stated that America’s goal is the “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization” of North Korea. As the Japan-U.S. Defense Ministers’ Meeting in Hawaii confirmed, this means having North Korea abandon nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction as well as all ballistic missiles.
Mr. Trump did not discuss human rights with the North Korean official, but the President said, “They could be a topic of conversation at the summit.” He mentioned Japanese aid for North Korea, but this cannot be considered without complete resolution of the abduction issue. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should remind Mr. Trump to raise the issue of the abductions.