As optics fade, denuclearization still as elusive as ever
Sheetal Sukhija - Friday 22nd June, 2018
At a rally in Minnesota, Trump said North Korea had returned remains of 200 U.S. war dead
North Korea is reportedly set to hand over a sizable number of remains of a U.S. troops missing from the Korean War
The President also slammed the news coverage on North Korea, calling it ‘almost treasonous’
MINNESOTA, U.S. - Addressing a crowd of supporters during a rally in Duluth, Minnesota, the U.S. President Donald Trump continued to tout his successful first and historic meeting with the North Korean leader, whom he met in Singapore last week.
Despite several U.S. and international experts pointing out that while the summit marked a new chapter in ties between the two nations, it lacked in substance - Trump continued to hail the summit as a win for the U.S.
At the rally, Trump even declared that on Wednesday, North Korea had returned the remains of 200 U.S. troops missing from the Korean War.
On Wednesday, the U.S. President announced to roaring applause, “We got back our great fallen heroes, the remains sent back today, already 200 got sent back.”
While Trump’s followers cheered on in Minnesota, at the Pentagon, the U.S. Defence Secretary, James Mattis tried his best to not let the fading optics from the summit turn into a complete blur.
Yet, left alone to answer tough questions from journalists, on what the actual progress is when it comes to denuclearization - even Mattis had to acknowledge that North Korea has, so far, not made the U.S. aware of any steps towards dismantling its nuclear weapons program.
Amid confusion over the fate of the promised diplomatic follow-up to last week’s summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un, Mattis admitted that he is unaware of any steps taken by North Korea towards denuclearization since the historic meeting.
He even said that he does not expect any steps in the immediate future.
After his closed-door talks with Kim Jong Un, Trump emerged in front of the global media and declared that North Korea had begun the destruction of a missile engine testing site or would begin as soon as Kim Jong Un returned from the summit.
He said he had ordered the suspension of “provocative” joint military exercises with South Korea in return.
Adding that the follow-up meetings would “go into the details” of the denuclearization agreement signed at the end of the summit.
The U.S. President has also announced that his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser, John Bolton, would take part in follow-up meetings with North Korean officials a week after the summit.
He said, “We’re getting together next week to go into the details. Next week, with John Bolton and our entire team, to go over the details and to get this stuff done.”
The following day, Pompeo said, “I will be the person who takes the role of driving this process forward. I don’t know exactly what the timing will be for our next conversation with North Korea. I would anticipate it will be fairly quickly after we return to our home countries. I don’t know exactly what form that will take but I’m very confident that by some time in the next week or so we will begin the engagement.”
A week has passed and engagements have not occurred.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon officially halted its August joint military drills with South Korea earlier this week.
On Wednesday, when Mattis was questioned about the steps, if any, that North Korea had taken to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme, Mattis said, “No, I’m not aware of that.”
He said, “The detailed negotiations have not begun. I wouldn’t expect that at this point.”
So far, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert has made just one post-summit statement on a possible follow-up, in which she said that although the U.S. had been in touch with Pyongyang, there was nothing to announce on Pompeo’s travel plans.
Meanwhile, even as Trump and his administration continued to bash the media over largely sceptical views on the result of the summit, analysts maintained that so far, North Korea and China had made the most gains from the summit.
While Trump’s declaration of ending war games caught America’s closest allies in the region - including South Korea and Japan - by surprise, his swift follow through caused more shock.
The U.S. President acted on his statement to end joint war games on the Korean Peninsula almost instantaneously and ended what had once been the most significant part of his pressure campaign on North Korea within a week after the summit.
The only thing that has given U.S. officials hope that North Korea is indeed serious about its plans to denuclearize, is the fact that it lived up to its promise of handing over remains of U.S. troops.
In the joint statement issued at the end of last week’s Singapore summit, North Korea had promised to hand over remains of U.S. soldiers, marines and airmen still unaccounted for since the 1950-53 Korean war.
Kim Jong Un vowed to repatriate at once, the remains of about 200 U.S. troops, that Pyongyang had already identified as U.S. servicemen.
Yet, the move did not make most analysts nod in optimism - since U.S. military data shows that more than 36,500 U.S. troops died in the 1950-1953 Korean War and that about 7,700 U.S. military personnel remain unaccounted from the conflict.
Further, experts pointed out that recovery and repatriation has been happening on and off for decades.
They claim that since the war ended, the remains of 334 servicemen have been identified from the bones and personal effects handed over by Pyongyang previously.
More importantly, the remains of about 5,000 other missing servicemen are thought to be scattered around the North Korean territory.
Meanwhile, Trump has focussed his attention on how the summit has been portrayed in the media, reportedly claiming in a soon-to-be-aired interview that the two leaders came to a "wonderful agreement" in Singapore, but that it's a "shame that the fake news covers it the way they do."
Trump reportedly said, "It's honestly, it's really almost treasonous, you want to know the truth. If you listen to the mainstream media, it's almost like I lost the negotiation."
Trump argued that during talks with Kim, the U.S. "got our hostages back, we get the remains back of our great heroes that have died. The big thing is the denuclearization."
He even stressed that could very much trust Kim’s word, since the two leaders now have a "very good relationship" and "very good chemistry together."
Trump said, "He's looking to do something for his country, maybe for his family, for himself, but he's looking to do the right thing.”
Throughout Sicario: Day of the Soldado, characters talk about things needing to be 'clean,' which pretty much means that a lot of people need to die. Making sure that a mission or a crime is 'clean' means eliminating those who ...
WASHINGTON, U.S. - After being slammed for a whole 24 hours for standing beside the Russian President Vladimir Putin and questioning the American intelligence community - the U.S President Donald T ...