Wednesday, April 24, 2019 | ePaper
Gangster-like demands of US
Denuclearization talks with North Korea see no outcome
The US-North Korea nuclear summit in Hanoi ended abruptly without a deal with President Donald Trump saying he had decided to "walk" in the face of Kim Jong Un's demands to drop sanctions. The much-anticipated second meeting between the two leaders was supposed to build on their historic first summit in Singapore, but they failed to sign a joint statement as initially scheduled and the talks ended in deadlock. Korea's Kim says he is ready to denuclearize.
Sometimes you have to walk and this was just one of those times, an unusually downbeat US President Donald Trump told reporters. Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn't do that," Trump said before leaving Vietnam aboard Air Force One to head back to Washington. But Trump insisted he was "optimistic that the progress we made" before and during the summit left them "in position to have a really good outcome" in the future.
Trump speaks to Kim Jong Un after shaking hands before their one-on-one chat during the second US-North Korea summit at the Metropole Hotel at Hanoi in Vietnam on February 27 this year. On the day that their talks in Hanoi collapsed last month, Trump handed Kim a piece of paper that included a blunt call for the transfer of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and bomb fuel to the US, according to the document seen by Reuters. Trump gave Kim both Korean and English versions of the US position at Hanoi's Metropole hotel on February 28.
It was the first time that Trump himself had explicitly defined what he meant by denuclearization directly to Kim. North Korea may suspend nuclear talks with gangster-like US. A lunch between the two leaders was canceled on the same day. While neither side has presented a complete account of why the summit collapsed, the document may help explain it. The document's existence was first mentioned by White House national security adviser John Bolton in television interviews. Bolton did not disclose in those interviews the pivotal US expectation contained in the document that North Korea should transfer its nuclear weapons and fissile material to the US.
The document appeared to represent Bolton's long-held and hard-line "Libya model" of denuclearization that North Korea has rejected repeatedly. It probably would have been seen by Kim as insulting and provocative. Trump had previously distanced himself in public comments from Bolton's approach and said a "Libya model" would be employed only if a deal could not be reached. The idea of North Korea handing over its weapons was first proposed by Bolton in 2004. He revived the proposal last year when Trump named him as national security adviser. The document was meant to provide the North Koreans with a clear and concise definition of what the US meant by final and fully verifiable denuclearization
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment while the State Department also declined to comment on what would be a classified document. After the summit, a North Korean official accused Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of "gangster-like" demands, saying Pyongyang was considering suspending talks with the US and may rethink its self-imposed ban on missile and nuclear tests.
The English version of the document, seen by Reuters, called for "fully dismantling North Korea's nuclear infrastructure, chemical and biological warfare program and related dual-use capabilities; and ballistic missiles, launchers, and associated facilities. Aside from the call for the transfer of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and bomb fuel, the document had four other key points. It called on North Korea to provide a comprehensive declaration of its nuclear program and full access to US and international inspectors; to halt all related activities and construction of any new facilities; to eliminate all nuclear infrastructures; and to transition all nuclear program scientists and technicians to commercial activities.
The summit in Vietnam's capital was cut short after Trump and Kim failed to reach a deal on the extent of economic sanctions relief for North Korea in exchange for its steps to give up its nuclear program. The first summit between Trump and Kim, which took place in Singapore in June 2018, was almost called off after the North Koreans rejected Bolton's repeated demands for it to follow a denuclearization model under which components of Libya's nuclear programs were shipped off to the US in 2004.
Seven years after a denuclearization agreement reached between the United States and Libya's leader, Muammar Gaddafi, the US took part in a NATO-led military operation against his government and he was overthrown by rebels and killed. Last year, North Korean officials called Bolton's plan "absurd" and noted the "miserable fate" that befell Gaddafi. After North Korea threatened to cancel the Singapore summit, Trump said in May 2018 he was not pursuing a "Libya model" and that he was looking for an agreement that would protect Kim. He would be there, he would be running his country, his country would be very rich, Trump said at the time.
The "Libya model" was a much different model. We decimated that country," Trump added. The Hanoi document was presented in what US officials have said was an attempt by Trump to secure a "big deal" under which all sanctions would be lifted if North Korea gave up all of its weapons. US-North Korean engagement has appeared to be in limbo since the Hanoi meeting. Pompeo said on March 4 he was hopeful to send a team to North Korea "in the next couple of weeks," but there has been no sign of that.
Jenny Town, a North Korea expert at the Washington-based Stimson Center think tank, said the content of the US document was not surprising. This is what Bolton wanted from the beginning and it clearly wasn't going to work, Town said. If the US was really serious about negotiations they would have learned already that this wasn't an approach they could take. It's already been rejected more than once, and to keep bringing it up...would be rather insulting. It's a non-starter and reflects absolutely no learning curve in the process. North Korea has repeatedly rejected unilateral disarmament and argues that its weapons program is needed for defense, a belief reinforced by the fate Gaddafi and others.
In an interview with ABC's This Week program after the Hanoi summit, Bolton said the North Koreans had committed to denuclearization in a variety of forms several times that they have happily violated. We define denuclearization as meaning the elimination of their nuclear weapons program, their uranium enrichment capability, their plutonium reprocessing capability, Bolton said. Asked who authored the document, Bolton said it had been "written at staff level and cleared around as usual. On the other hand, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui has blamed top US officials for the breakdown of Hanoi summit Russia's Tass news agency and the AP said.
Mike Pompeo John Bolton have created the atmosphere of hostility and mistrust and, therefore, obstructed the constructive effort for negotiations between the supreme leaders of North Korea and the United States, Tass quoted Choe as saying. Kim is set to make an official announcement soon on his position regarding the denuclearization talks with the US and the North's further actions, it added. Choe said Washington threw away a golden opportunity at the summit and warned that Kim might rethink a moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests, the AP said.
I want to make it clear that the gangster-like stand of the US will eventually put the situation in danger. Personal relations between the two supreme leaders are still good and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful. An expert Joshua Pollack said North Korea may be delivering an ultimatum. They're putting down a marker, saying which way things are headed if nothing changes," Pollack, of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, said.
The second Trump-Kim summit broke down over differences about US demands for Pyongyang to denuclearize and North Korea's demand for dramatic relief from international sanctions imposed for its nuclear and missile tests, which it pursued for years in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.
(Rayhan Ahmed Topader, writer and columnist, email: email@example.com)