Parsing the flurry of conflicting statements coming from both Washington and Pyongyang.
On April 18, U.S. President Donald Trump stated that CIA Director Mike Pompeo, slated to be the next Secretary of State, had traveled to North Korea to meet the Leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un to discuss the denuclearization of Pyongyang.
Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week. Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed. Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
Trump followed with a tweet that North Korea “agreed to denuclearization”:
Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd of Fake News NBC just stated that we have given up so much in our negotiations with North Korea, and they have given up nothing. Wow, we haven’t given up anything & they have agreed to denuclearization (so great for World), site closure, & no more testing!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2018
However, not long after, the President rescinded, saying the North Korean nuclear crisis “is a long way” from being resolved:
….We are a long way from conclusion on North Korea, maybe things will work out, and maybe they won’t – only time will tell….But the work I am doing now should have been done a long time ago!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2018
President Trump was likely reacting to news on a third plenary meeting of the Seventh Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) which took place in Pyongyang on April 20.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un addressed the meeting stressing that the country’s work for mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles is finished.
He said that no nuclear test and intermediate-range and inter-continental ballistic rocket test-fire are necessary for the DPRK now, given that the work for mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets was finished as the whole processes of developing nuclear weapons were carried out in a scientific way and in regular sequence, and the development of delivery and strike means was also made scientifically. He added that the mission of the northern nuclear test ground has thus come to an end,” the state agency of North Korea Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported
The KCNA quoted the six-point resolution:
First, we solemnly declare that the sub-critical nuclear test, underground nuclear test, making nuclear weapon smaller and lighter and the development of the super-large nuclear weapon and delivery means have been carried out in order in the course of the campaign for implementing the party’s line of simultaneously developing the two fronts and thus the work for putting on a higher level the technology of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets has been reliably realized.”
“Second, we will discontinue nuclear test and inter-continental ballistic rocket test-fire from April 21, Juche 107 (2018).”
“The northern nuclear test ground of the DPRK will be dismantled to transparently guarantee the discontinuance of the nuclear test.”
“Third, the discontinuance of the nuclear test is an important process for the worldwide disarmament, and the DPRK will join the international desire and efforts for the total halt to the nuclear test.”
“Fourth, the DPRK will never use nuclear weapons nor transfer nuclear weapons or nuclear technology under any circumstances unless there are nuclear threat and nuclear provocation against the DPRK.”
“Fifth, we will concentrate all efforts on building a powerful socialist economy and markedly improving the standard of people’s living through the mobilization of all human and material resources of the country.”
“Sixth, we will create international environment favorable for the socialist economic construction and facilitate close contact and active dialogue with neighboring countries and the international community in order to defend peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the world.”
In other words, North Korea has de-facto declared that it is already a nuclear power.
The recent developments came ahead of the coming April 27 summit between the leaders of North and South Korea. The Korean summit will take place in a South Korean building on the southern side of Panmunjom. This means that Kim must cross the border into South Korea in what would be the first such act by a North Korean leader since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
According to media reports, Seoul announced its desire to discuss a peace treaty with Pyongyang to replace the 65-year old armistice.
The South Korean President Moon Jae In welcomed the North Korea’s decision to denuclearize, as Reuters reported on April 22:
North Korea’s decision to freeze its nuclear program is a significant decision for the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” Jae In stated.
It is a green light that raises the chances of positive outcomes at the North’s summits with South Korea and the United States. If North Korea goes the path of complete denuclearization starting from this, then a bright future for North Korea can be guaranteed.”
At present, the Trump administration officials are reportedly preparing for a summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. This summit would be the first-ever meeting between a serving U.S. president and a North Korean leader. The meeting is scheduled for May or June, according to CNBC.
The two summits could define future relations between North Korea and the U.S.-led bloc. Even if North and South Korea express the wish to unify and begin political work to that end, U.S. influence in the military “theatre” may still rule the day.
Top Photo | A submarine missile is paraded across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea to celebrate the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il Sung, the country’s late founder and grandfather of current ruler Kim Jong Un. April 15, 2017. (AP/Wong Maye-E)