President Trump on Tuesday brushed aside questions over whether his assertion that he “solved” the crisis with North Korea was premature amid reports its leader, Kim Jong Un,is trying to conceal parts of its nuclear weapons program.
“Many good conversations with North Korea — it is going well!” Trump tweeted. “In the meantime, no Rocket Launches or Nuclear Testing in 8 months. All of Asia is thrilled. Only the Opposition Party, which includes the Fake News, is complaining.”
“If not for me,” he added, “we would now be at War with North Korea!”
Trump’s brash declaration comes two days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to travel to North Korea to meet with Kim — his third trip to the rogue nuclear nation
Last week, NBC News reported that U.S. officials “believe that North Korea has increased its production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites in recent months — and that Kim Jong Un may try to hide those facilities as he seeks more concessions in nuclear talks with the Trump administration.” On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency “has concluded that North Korean officials are exploring ways to deceive Washington about the number of nuclear warheads and missiles, and the types and numbers of facilities they have, believing that the United States is not aware of the full range of their activities.”
And on Sunday, Wall Street Journal reported that “new satellite imagery indicates Pyongyang is pushing ahead with weapons programs even as it pursues dialogue with Washington.”
Yet for weeks, Trump has been trying to check North Korea’s denuclearization off of his to-do list.
Returning from his historic summit with Kim in Singapore, Trump declared via tweet, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”
At their summit, Trump and Kim signed an agreement that stated North Korea would “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” But the document did not specify exactly what that would entail.
Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn two days later, Trump again said the nuclear threat is gone.
“I have solved that problem,” he said.
Appearing on CBS’ “Face The Nation” Sunday, National Security Adviser John Bolton seemed to distance himself from Trump’s “mission accomplished” talk.
“We’re very well aware of North Korea’s pattern of behavior over decades of negotiating with the United States,” Bolton said. “We know exactly what the risks are of them using negotiations to drag out the length of time they have to continue their nuclear, chemical, biological weapons programs and ballistic missiles.”
Bolton said the U.S. hopes to get North Korea to dismantle the bulk of its ballistic programs “within a year.”
He added: “There’s not any starry-eyed feeling among the group doing this … we’re well, well, well aware of what the North Koreans have done in the past.”
At the White House Monday, press secretary Sarah Sanders said she would not “confirm or deny any of the intelligence reporting that’s out there.” But she also suggested North Korea had yet to commit to denuclearization.
“If North Korea makes the decision to denuclearize, their ballistics programs could be dismantled in a year,” Sanders said.
“We’re continuing to make progress,” Sanders said. “There’s great momentum right now.”