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Trump Just Admitted North Korea Might Keep Its Nuclear Weapons
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=47231"><span class="small">Alex Ward, Vox</span></a>   
Wednesday, 30 January 2019 14:23

Ward writes: "For months, President Donald Trump and top administration officials have maintained that they struck an agreement with North Korea to end its nuclear program. But after US intelligence officials on Tuesday openly contradicted that, Trump seems to be walking that back just a bit."

Kim Jung Un. (photo: Getty)
Kim Jung Un. (photo: Getty)

Trump Just Admitted North Korea Might Keep Its Nuclear Weapons

By Alex Ward, Vox

30 January 19

Trump lowers expectations on North Korea after his intelligence chiefs contradicted his rosy outlook.

or months, President Donald Trump and top administration officials have maintained that they struck an agreement with North Korea last June to end its nuclear program.

But after US intelligence officials on Tuesday openly contradicted that, stating that North Korea likely won’t give up its arsenal, Trump seems to be walking that back just a bit.

“Decent chance of denuclearization,” he tweeted on Wednesday. “Time will tell what will happen with North Korea.”

A “decent chance.” That, folks, is what people in the political world call “moving the goalposts.”

That’s a far cry from the comments Trump made in June — just hours after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for the first time — in which the president stated that there was “no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”

Now he’s admitting not only that the threat remains, but also that it’s not guaranteed to go away anytime soon.

There’s a good reason for Trump’s backtrack

The Trump administration is currently in the midst of months-long negotiations with North Korea in pursuit of a deal that would see the country give up its nuclear weapons and dismantle its nuclear and missile production facilities.

Those negotiations are entirely predicated on the belief that Kim is at least open to the idea of giving up his nuclear weapons. And indeed, Trump and top administration officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continue to insist that North Korea has agreed to give up its missiles and nukes.

Yet the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment report — released Tuesday by the heads of the CIA, National Security Agency, FBI, and many other federal agencies — clearly states that Pyongyang “is unlikely to give up all of its [nuclear] stockpiles, delivery systems, and production capabilities,” and adds that “North Korean leaders view nuclear arms as critical to regime survival.”

That fits with the publicly available evidence experts and researchers have found showing that North Korea has continued to improve its weapons programs throughout the negotiations and is hiding military sites from the US. Those certainly don’t seem like the actions of a country planning to give its weapons up anytime soon.

So now Trump, after seeing progress with North Korea stall and US intelligence pushing back on his views, has downgraded his own optimism.

“From ‘veni, vidi, vici’ to ‘maybe,’” Sung-Yoon Lee, a North Korea expert at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, told me, referencing the famous Latin declaration attributed to Julius Caesar: “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Lee added that the president is now in “an elaborate trap from which he cannot easily break free” and that at this point, he “can only keep lowering the bar” in order to get out of it.

Trump keeps changing the metric of success with North Korea

Joshua Pollack, a North Korea expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, cited two specific instances where Trump previously moved the goalposts during the nuclear talks.

Remember: Trump said soon after his Kim meeting that there was no nuclear threat from North Korea anymore. But he has made other claims to demonstrate things are going well — even if they’re not.

First, Trump cites North Korea’s lack of missile or nuclear tests as a sign of progress. He has a point there: Despite testing weapons at breakneck speed since 2013, Pyongyang hasn’t detonated a nuclear device since September 2017 or tested a missile since that November.

But not testing his arsenal is not the same as Kim giving up the weapons altogether. North Korea’s decision definitely helps lower tensions, but it doesn’t remove or end the threat — not by a long shot.

Second, Pompeo — who leads the North Korea negotiations for the Trump administration — in September set a deadline to conclude nuclear talks by 2021. But in the months since, Trump has repeatedly insisted that “we’re in no rush” to strike a deal, once again moving the goalposts.

On the one hand, experts say, that’s a good thing: Sensitive negotiations take time, and dismantling North Korea’s program is among the most intricate. But on the other hand, it gives Kim ample time to improve his arsenal.

Still, Trump’s Wednesday backtrack is his biggest yet. The semi-admission of failure — or at least recognition that he overpromised — in retrospect isn’t so surprising.

Asked after his June 2018 summit with Kim if the North Korean leader would dismantle his nuclear arsenal, Trump said, “I think he will do these things. I may be wrong. I may stand before you in six months and say, hey, I was wrong. I don’t know I’ll ever admit that. I’ll find some excuse.”

It’s been just over six months — and he found an excuse. “A flash of self-awareness, perhaps,” Pollack told me.

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-2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-01-30 16:12
This article is just misleading and false. It is propaganda. We need some kind of NewsGuard to keep this sort of stuff off of RSN. Take this --

" they struck an agreement with North Korea last June to end its nuclear program."

No they did not agree to end N. Korea's nuclear program. They struck an agreement to work together toward that and other goals. N. Korea stopped its missile and bomb tests voluntarily as a gesture of good faith. Trump stopped the war games on the N. Korean borders as a gesture of good faith.

North and South Korea are working on a complete solution to the stalemate left following the war of the 1950s. Russia and China are helping a lot. The US is a sideline player. The hardline war mongers in the Trump regime like Pompeo, Bolton, etc. are doing all they can to keep the war going. But they are failing. They US is becoming more and more irrelevant to the situation in East Asia. This is how it should be. Trump is to be congratulated for keeping to his side of the bargain. He still supports better relations with N. Korea. That is all the US has a right to expect or work for. Trump did not admit failure. There has been no failure.

N. Korea will keep its nuclear bombs as long as US nuclear bombs remain in the region and there is on treaty of peace between the US and N. Korea. That is all that is relevant here. Who would give up their weapons while the great enemy still has a weapon pointed at your head.
+5 # Michaeljohn 2019-01-30 23:17
Nope, 'fraid the US is not a sideline player as long as it refuses to formally end the state of war that has existed since the temporary end to hostilities at the 38th parallel. Even if it did take that action, the US will continue to hold the nuclear hammer over China and SouthEast Asia.
+8 # laborequalswealth 2019-01-30 16:54
No. Korea would be insane to give up its nukes. Look at what the USA did to Libya. Look at what the USA is now trying to do to Venezuela.

Venezuela is a turning point. If the USA gets away with this blatant coup no government or people are safe. Every small country better nuke up soon or they will be at the mercy of whichever of two psychopathic nutcases Amuricans are presesented with to vote in as President.
0 # bevin 2019-01-30 18:02
As crass an example of partisan Democratic warmongering as you will find.
After more than seventy years, millions of deaths, hundreds of thousands of broken families, famines and sieges, there is a chance that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse might be on the verge of leaving the Korean Peninsula and that broken people be allowed, more than a century after Japan invaded and colonised the country, to heal. But wait a minute: we'd sooner have war than cede trump a feather for his policy cap.
Previous Presidents had every opportunity to put an end to Korea's agonies on the cross of war, none had the guts to avail themselves.
And now Vox is determined that the war must be continued. Why?: Is it the contracts for the MIC? Is it the excitement of impending nuclear war- a long winter that might solve global warming problems at a stroke?
What is it?
What it is not is the lie that North Korea is not abiding, meticulously to the letter and spirit of the agreement made between Kim and Trump.
It takes ingenuity to make the current President look reasonable and honest, but journalists like this never fail.
+1 # Anne Frank 2019-01-31 17:33
What does this warmonger Ward mean, "nuclear threat from North Korea?" Threat to defend itself if attacked? Count the number of North Korean imperialist bases in other countries, and compare to the number of U.S. imperialist bases in other countries to see who is the "threat."
+1 # lfeuille 2019-01-31 17:40
North Korea can't really afford to give up nukes. If they did, the US would attack them. Regardless of what kind of deal is reached with this president, the next won't be bound by it. Trump might no feel bound by it either. He's been known to go back on his word. We are going to have to live with a nuclear NK.