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Why Trump’s withdrawal from the June 12 summit could be a very dangerous move, By Andrei Lankov
While the President may be bluffing, the news is a massive setback for hopes of a Korean détente
So, the summit was cancelled – and it was the American side that pulled the plug. As Donald Trump’s letter to Kim Jong Un explained, the reason for the cancellation was the “tremendous hostility” expressed in North Korea’s most recent statements. So, what has happened, and what should we expect to happen next? Predictions are a tricky business, of course, but it is probably the right time to think about the future – which is certain to be stormy.To which North Korean statements did President Trump refer in his letter?
With the Singapore summit cancelled, what next for U.S.-North Korea relations? By Mintaro Oba
Cool heads will need to prevail if military action is to be avoided
With U.S. President Donald Trump’s letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday cancelling the summit meeting, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is more uncertain than it has been since the beginning of the year. Many pundits, of course, worried if the summit would fail or whether it would happen at all.
President Trump cancels what was supposed to be an historic summit with North Korea next month. Trump explained his decision in a letter – saying it’s with tremendous anger and open hostility that the summit is off. At the same time, the U.S. president said he still expects to meet with Kim at some point. Over the past few days Washington had been back-and-forth with hints on whether the meeting would go ahead.
North Korea’s controlled demolition at Punggye-ri: some key points, By Joshua H. Pollack
It is unclear how comprehensively the tunnel complexes were collapsed, though a return to testing remains unlikely
On Thursday, May 24, as anticipated, North Korean authorities linked to the “Nuclear Weapons Institute of the DPRK” sealed off three tunnel entrances at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the presence of over 20 foreign journalists.
A statement released by the Nuclear Weapons Institute called the event a “ceremony… to ensure transparency of the DPRK.
Choe Son Hui hits out at Pence and Bolton: reading between the lines, By Fyodor Tertitskiy
A critical statement by the Vice-Foreign Minister carries weight, but suggests there is still room to maneuver
On Thursday May 24, North Korean state media released a statement by Choe Son Hui, one of the DPRK’s six Vice-Ministers for Foreign Affairs, in which the country once again rejected the United States’ concept of “complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement” (CVID) of its nuclear weapons.
The message, notably, reiterated previous DPRK claims that Speaking about Washington’s attitude,… North Korea’s foreign ministry official Choe Son-hui said that she will ‘put forward a suggestion’ to the supreme leadership to reconsider the summit with the U.S. next month, in case Washington clings to ‘unlawful and outrageous acts.’ Singling out U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s recent remarks on the Libya-model and military option against Pyongyang,… Choe threatened that North Korea is capable of inflicting upon the U.S.– a terrible tragedy that it has never experienced before. Pence had warned that it would be a “great mistake” if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un thinks he can play President Trump,… and that if Kim does not strike a deal– it will “end like the Libyan model.” The top diplomat handling relations with the U.S. said that the North will not beg for talks with Trump,… and tossed the ball again,… saying that either the Singapore summit or a nuclear-showdown is entirely dependent upon Washington’s behavior.
Mr. Moon goes to Washington: why the South Korean President held talks with Trump, By Edward Howell
As relations with North Korea soured, the ROK leader sought to rebuild bridges
The visit of Moon Jae-in to Washington earlier this week should not come as a surprise to the international community, particularly in light of the aftermath of the Panmunjom Declaration at the third inter-Korean summit on 27 April, and the trip comes at a time of turbulent relations between the U.S. and DPRK following a comparably.
Following news of U.S. Trump’s cancellation of the North Korea, U.S. summit, South Korea’s presidential Blue House released a statement where President Moon expressed “regret that the North American summit was not held on June 12 as scheduled.” He said… denuclearization of the Korean peninsular and enduring peace are historic tasks that cannot be abandoned or delayed.” Our chief Blue House correspondent Moon Connyoung has the details. “Baffled and very regretful” were the immediate words from South Korean President Moon Jae-in in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancellation of the planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore that had been set for June 12th. South Korea’s presidential Blue House said it had not received any advance notice and was caught off guard Thursday night by the cancellation. In a statement released following an hour long emergency meeting of his National Security Council at midnight, the South Korean president urged both North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump to resolve the issue through direct dialogue. He said, “The sensitivity and difficulty of such diplomatic issues call for direct and more close dialogue by the leaders. The current way of communication just will not work.” Mr. Trump’s cancellation of the Singapore summit comes within 48 hours of Mr. Moon’s visit to the White House on Tuesday to solely convince the U.S. president that meeting with North Korea’s Kim was still worth it. How and whether this will affect future Seoul, Washington relations, Seoul, Pyongyang ties, and even Pyongyang, Washington relations, we’ll have to wait and see.
Shinzo Abe “supports” Trump decision to cancel DPRK-U.S. summit: Kyodo, By Colin Zwirko
International reaction to surprise cancellation more mixed, however
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday expressed support for U.S. President Donald Trump’s surprise cancellation of a planned June 12 summit with Kim Jong Un, in comments carried by Kyodo News. He also said he hoped to discuss the issue with President Trump over the phone in the coming week. In a separate statement Friday,
North Korea willing to resolve pending issues with U.S. “at any time”: official, By Dagyum Ji
In response to cancellation of June 12 summit, vice foreign-minister says DPRK still open to talks
North Korea is willing to resolve pending issues through face to face dialogue “at any time and in any way,” DPRK’s first vice-minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye Gwan said on Friday. In Pyongyang’s first response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancelation on Thursday of a planned summit with Kim Jong Un, Kim said the the North wants to give the U.S. more time and opportunity — meaning, Pyongyang is still willing to sit down with Washington for summit talks.
Regarding President Trump citing the North’s fury and hostility for calling off the summit, Pyongyang claimed… that was only because Washington pressed North Korea over unilateral denuclearization. It added… the current situation — which shows a very deep rift between the two sides — rather means the summit talks are urgently needed. North Korea did express regret over Trump’s decision,… but at the same time appealed… that the regime has been highly anticipating the summit as well as what the White House has suggested as a ‘Trump model.’ It added the regime appreciates President Trump for making a decision that no other American president has… and has been hoping the summit marks a beginning to improving their relations. The statement also said… North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been pouring his efforts into summit preparations. The North stressed… that both sides can’t be perfectly satisfied at their first attempt, but if they solve their issues one-by-one, their relations will only get better, not worse. Pyongyang concluded its statement by saying it’s willing to sit down face-to-face with Washington at any time with any format to work through their issues.
Trump calls off the Singapore summit: experts react, By Hamish Macdonald and Leo Byrne
Observers weigh in on the future of maximum pressure – and where U.S.-DPRK relations go from here
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday canceled a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, citing the DPRK’s “tremendous anger and open hostility.”
The landmark talks were scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore and would have been the first time a sitting U.S. President sat down to negotiate with a North Korean leader.
While Trump also offered a fig leaf to Pyongyang, saying that talks could still go ahead on June 12 or even at a later date, the U.S. president simultaneously adopted a tough stance, later telling reporters that U.S. military remained “ready.”
Originally, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in told Washington that North Korea was willing to discuss denuclearization, while U.S. Secretary of State also said Kim understood the Trump administration’s objectives.
But the forward momentum began to stall on May 15, when North Korea announced it was canceling high-level talks with its southern neighbor and threatened to withdraw from the summit with Washington.
The cancellation seems to reset relations between the DPRK and United States, and will no doubt have implications for Washington’s relationship with Seoul and inter-Korean rapprochement.
Several experts spoke to MHI-NK News to share their reactions to Trump’s announcement and provide insight on what the cancellation will mean for future U.S. diplomacy with the DPRK and inter-Korean relations.
The following experts responded in time for our deadline:
- Anthony Ruggiero, Senior Fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies : President Trump made the right decision, it was clear that North Korea was playing games and not serious about denuclearization.
- Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy Arms Control Association:Trump overreacted to North Korean rhetoric and failed to acknowledge the role members of his own cabinet played in instigating the crisis. National Security Advisor John Bolton’s mention of the “Libya model,” which implies full dismantlement before any concessions, and Vice President Pence’s comments threatening war if a deal is not reached, were bound to provoke a negative response in Pyongyang.
- Lisa Collins, Fellow, Korea Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS):The timing may have been surprising but I don’t think the fact that Trump canceled the meeting with Kim Jong Un was a surprise to many Korea experts. President Trump has been threatening for weeks to walk away from the summit negotiations if he felt that North Korea was not serious about the process of denuclearization.Even though the June 12 meeting has been cancelled, I don’t think this necessarily means the complete end of negotiations with North Korea.
- Naoko Aoki, Research Associate at the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM): President Trump’s letter cites anger and hostility displayed by North Korea as the reason for pulling out. Is the United States canceling an important summit that could denuclearize North Korea because it said mean things? I am also worried that there is no sign that dialogue between the two countries will continue at a lower level.
- Stephan Haggard, Director of the Korea-Pacific Program at IR/PS: The short timeline to the summit always posed some risk that it might not transpire. But the recent comments by Vice President Pence on Fox News clearly represented major mixed messaging: on the Libyan model, on the use of force and on the sequencing of concessions.Again, the Trump administration is at odds with itself.
Trump says U.S. military is “ready if necessary” after withdrawing from summit, By Leo Byrne
But U.S. president leaves door open for summit to take place at a later time
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said the country’s military was “ready if necessary” after pulling out of a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un originally scheduled for June 12. Making his first statement after his letter to Kim announcing the cancellation was released earlier in the day, Trump also said that he had spoken to allies in the region.“I have spoken to General Mattis, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and our military which is by far the most powerful anywhere in the world … is ready if necessary,” Trump said in prepared remarks.
“Likewise I have spoken to South Korea and Japan, and they are not only ready should foolish or reckless acts be taken by North Korea, but they are also willing to shoulder much of the cost of any financial burden, any of the costs associated by the United States in operations if such an unfortunate situation is forced upon us.”
Trump reiterated that he believed North Korea would greatly benefit from giving up its nuclear weapons, though added that Washington would accept nothing less than full denuclearization.
“That bright and beautiful future can only happen when the threat of nuclear weapons is removed. No way it can happen otherwise,” Trump told assembled reporters.
As in his letter to Kim, the president seemed to leave the door open for the summit to occur, either on June 12 or at a later date.
“And hopefully everything is going to work out well with North Korea, and a lot of things can happen … It’s possible that the existing summit could take place, or a summit at some later date. Nobody should be anxious, we have to get it right.”
The U.S. President also cryptically added that he knew what caused the negotiations to break down, though declined to share the information.
“So the dialogue was good until recently, and I think I understand why that happened,” Trump said in response to a question from the media.
“And I won’t say that. Someday I’ll give it to you, you can write about it in a book.”
Trump’s surprise decision to withdraw from what would have been the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader comes just hours after the DPRK claimed to have dismantled its nuclear testing site at Punggye-ri.
But talks between the two sides appeared to have stalled recently, with North Korea threatening to pull out of the negotiations on May 15.
And while inter-Korean negotiations are also in limbo, South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday urged Washington and Pyongyang to communicate with each other.
“Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of permanent peace are historic tasks that can neither be abandoned nor delayed,” Moon said during an emergency meeting with security advisers in comments carried by Yonhap.
“I am very perplexed and it is very regrettable that the North Korea-U.S. summit will not be held on June 12 when it was scheduled to be held.”
Trump cancels June 12 summit with Kim Jong Un, By By Hamish Macdonald
In letter to DPRK leader, U.S. President says he believes it would “inappropriate” to hold meeting
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said a scheduled June 12 summit with Kim Jong Un will not take place, in a letter to the DPRK leader released by the White House.
“We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore,” a letter signed by the President read.
“I was very much looking forward to being there with you,” it added.
“Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting.”
The comments appear to come in response to a statement by DPRK Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui issued on Thursday, in which the senior North Korean diplomat warned that she may ask Kim Jong Un to “reconsider” participation in the summit.
“We will neither beg the U.S. for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us,” Choe said in an English-language statement issued by KCNA on Thursday.
“Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States,” she continued.
The President’s surprise decision to withdraw from what would have been a historic summit comes just hours after North Korea claimed to have dismantled its nuclear testing site at Punggye-ri.
In a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the Nuclear Weapons Institute of the DPRK said the move had ensured the “transparency of the discontinuance of nuclear test(s)” first announced by North Korea’s ruling party in April.
In his letter on Thursday, the U.S. President also appeared to issue a warning to Kim Jong Un.
“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” Trump wrote.
But he also appeared to leave an opening to the DPRK leader, writing that “I look very much forward to meeting you” and thanking him for the recent release of three U.S. prisoners from the North.
“If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write,” the letter continued.
“The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth.”
North Korea says it has dismantled nuclear testing ground, By Hamish Macdonald
Nuclear Weapons Institute of the DPRK issues statement after media witnesses tunnel detonations
North Korean has “completely” dismantled its nuclear testing ground at Punggye-ri, a statement by the Nuclear Weapons Institute of the DPRK said on Thursday.
The statement, published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), comes shortly after international media organizations – present at the Punggye-ri site – reported witnessing the destruction of several tunnels.
“Dismantling the nuclear test ground was done in such a way as to make all the tunnels of the test ground collapse by explosion and completely close the tunnel entrances, and at the same time, explode some guard facilities and observation posts on the site,” the statement read.
“It has been confirmed that there were neither leakage of radioactive materials nor any adverse impact on the surrounding ecological environment,” it added.
The statement said the measure to close the site had ensured the “transparency of the discontinuance of nuclear test(s)”.
It added that the entire site will be closed after further removal of above-ground structures.
“Complete closure of the area surrounding the nuclear test ground will come on the heels of successive removal of all ground observation facilities, research institutes and structures of guard units, and withdrawal of staff concerned.”
Critically, the statement adds that Thursday’s demolition would see the discontinuation of nuclear testing as a move towards “global disarmament.”
“We will continue to join hands with the world peace-loving people in building a nuclear-free peaceful world, a new independent world where the dream and ideal of humanity are realized,” it said.
Immediately prior to the statement being issued, a select group of international journalists – invited by the government to observe the dismantlement of the site – began reporting that they had witnessed the destruction of several tunnels at the site.
“North Korea destroyed at least three nuclear tunnels, observation buildings, a metal foundry and living quarters at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site,” CNN reported with a Punggye-ri byline.
“Before the explosions, the journalists said they were invited to view the explosives rigged in the tunnels, before moving a safe distance away to witness their detonation,” the report added.
North Korea first announced it would dismantle its “nuclear test site in the country’s northern side” following a meeting of the country’s ruling party in late April.
That plan was later confirmed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in during talks with Kim Jong Un on April 27, during which the DPRK leader reportedly said he would invite international press and experts to the event.