North Korea reacts calmly to Trump's summit cancellation

Dean Simpson
May 25, 2018

Mr. Trump signaled the shift on Thursday, warning of US nuclear and military superiority both in a letter to Mr. Kim and in public remarks.

"The world and North Korea has lost a tremendous opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth", Trump wrote. "This missed opportunity is truly a sad moment in history".

North and South Korea, in the Panmunjom Declaration made when Kim met South Korean President Moon Jae-in, have stressed a phased approach to denuclearization.

Kim Jong Un said during the summit to South Korea's President Moon Jae-in. But our team confirmed that the translator said what I said.

Despite President Trump's change of heart, North Korea issued a statement today saying it is still "willing to give the USA time and opportunities" to reconsider talks "at any time, at any format".

First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-Gwan called Trump's decision "unexpected" and "regrettable" but he left the door open for further diplomacy.

Punggye-ri explosion
GETTYA series of explosions were witnessed at the Punggye-ri site

"In order for North Korea to change their policies, it is necessary for Japan and the USA and South Korea to continue to apply pressure, including the United Nations sanctions and importantly with the nations that supported these (the sanctions), including China and Russia", Suga said.

Earlier in a tweet, the president welcomed North Korea's response to the cancellation of the meeting.

Just before Trump announced the cancellation of the talks, North Korea declared it had "completely" dismantled its nuclear test site, in a carefully choreographed move portrayed as a goodwill gesture ahead of the summit.

Other South Koreans had concerns closer to home. Now, we should not take any halfway measures.

North Korea may well have backed him into a corner.

"We are in a boxer stance, we are ready to respond", Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, director of the USA military's Joint Staff, told reporters. "If any provocative actions occur from [North Korea], we will certainly - in concert with our allies and partners in the region - be ready for it".

He was not informed of the decision before Mr Trump's announcement, reports said.

"Probably not that much, unfortunately", says Melissa Hanham, a senior researcher with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, Calif.

Pyongyang furthered that impression in the hours after Trump's letter, defying expectations in some quarters that it might launch a missile, or at least a volley of abuse. In this view, Trump was more interested in the optics of a splashy summit, and a potential Nobel Prize, than in doing the arduous work of negotiating a verifiable disarmament in exchange for the elimination of economic sanctions.

Russian president Vladimir Putin, an ally of North Korea, said Mr Kim had in fact done "everything that he had promised in advance, even blowing up the tunnels and shafts" of his country's nuclear testing site.

"I don't think North Korea is going to respond so well to that kind of a threat".

North Korea closed its nuclear test site in spectacular fashion Thursday, blasting the site in what one observer described as a "huge explosion".

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, testifying Thursday on Capitol Hill, said North Korea had not responded to repeated requests from USA officials to discuss logistics for the summit.

After the cancellation, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed North Korea's response by phone with South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha on Friday morning. The US balked at that demand.

Moon will not be able to act on numerous agreements he made with Kim at their summit unless meaningful progress is made on the nuclear issue, which requires cooperation by the United States, said Cheon Seong-whun, a former secretary to the president for security strategy.

"[We] are trying to figure out what President Trump's intention is and the exact meaning of it", Cheong Wa-dae told South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

"This has made it hard to sell a return to maximum pressure to South Korea, and 10 times harder to sell to the Chinese", Graham added. "The entire Korean Peninsula is probably sliding back to a war, and if it happens not only Koreans or Americans but all people of the world will pay a price".

"We have got. possibly some good news on the Korea summit, where it may, if our diplomats can pull it off, may have it back on", he told reporters.

Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi gave up his nuclear arsenal in negotiations with the West, but he was later overthrown and killed after a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation air intervention that supported rebels on the ground.

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