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Westlake Legal Group > kim jong un

Did Kim Jong-un really apologize to Trump?

Westlake Legal Group TrumpKim Did Kim Jong-un really apologize to Trump? The Blog North Korea Kim Jong-un donald trump apology

As you have likely heard already, North Korea fired off two more short-range missiles into the ocean over the past week or so. This comes just as the United States moves forward with previously planned military exercises with South Korea, no doubt annoying dictator Kim Jong-un. The missile launches have no doubt put some strain on the “special relationship” that President Trump has been attempting to foster with North Korea’s tyrant, but yesterday he announced that he had received a “beautiful” three page letter from Kim, including a “small apology” for the missile tests and assurances that they would be ending soon. (Associated Press)

[Trump] says he’s looking “forward to seeing Kim Jong Un in the not too distant future!”

Trump is tweeting more details from the “beautiful” three-page letter he told reporters Friday he’d received.

Trump said Saturday from his New Jersey golf club that Kim spent much of his letter complaining about “the ridiculous and expensive exercises.” He says that Kim offered him “a small apology” for the flurry of recent short-range missile tests that have rattled U.S. allies in the region and that Kim assured him they would stop when exercises end.

Since we’re not being shown the letter we’re left to guess about some of the details. To be clear, I don’t think world leaders are obligated to immediately release every private message they share with each other, though they should be preserved and made public when all potential security concerns are behind us. (That even applies when you’re telling another world leader that you’ll have “more flexibility after the election,” but the responsibility for making sure your mic is off is on your shoulders.) Still, it would be interesting to know just what Kim had to say.

The idea of Kim writing a letter is nothing shocking so I’m confident he really sent one. Complaints about the military exercises are also no surprise since Kim has been very public in his denunciations of them. But did he really offer a “small apology?”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Kim wouldn’t mind apologizing, or at least saying something that might be interpreted as an apology, as long as he could do it in private. He still very much wants all of the sanctions lifted, as well as maintaining a desire to be treated like a legitimate international figure on the world stage. But he couldn’t afford to be seen apologizing in front of his own people since that might be perceived as weakness, so I doubt news of this letter will make it onto North Korea’s state news agency coverage.

With all that in mind, I’m inclined to take the President at his word about this. If the missile tests end after our joint military exercises conclude, we’ll be back to the recent status quo. It’s not a perfect situation and thus far hasn’t done anything to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, but it’s better than mushroom clouds erupting every six months I suppose.

The post Did Kim Jong-un really apologize to Trump? appeared first on Hot Air.

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North Korea missile launches: Dear Leader’s temper tantrum?

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Or just a return to the status quo ante? Despite Donald Trump’s attempts to reset the relationship between Pyongyang and Washington via personal diplomacy, North Korea has returned to conducting missile testing, albeit only short-range ballistic missiles at the moment. In the wake of new launches this morning, NBC’s Richard Engel tells Today that it’s a product of Kim Jong-un’s “frustration” over a lack of progress in talks:

In part, however, this is a reaction to upcoming joint US-South Korea military exercises, which is another return to the status quo ante. Just as the US had unilaterally dispensed with joint military exercises, the North had halted its missile testing. Now they’re both back, at least tentatively:

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles early on Wednesday, the South Korean military said, only days after it launched two similar missiles intended to pressure South Korea and the United States to stop upcoming military drills.

The firings follow launches on July 25, North Korea’s first missile tests since leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump met on June 30 and agreed to revive stalled denuclearization talks. …

Later on Wednesday, state news agency KCNA repeated calls for the United States and South Korea to end their “hostile” joint drills, but did not mention the missile launches.

“It is a prerequisite for improving the inter-Korean relations and ensuring peace on the Korean peninsula to call an overall and permanent halt to anti-North war drills, the root cause of confrontation and war,” it said in a commentary.

Moves by the United States and South Korea to rename the approaching exercises were simply double-dealing that proved “confrontational maniacs remain unchanged in their black-hearted intention to stifle” North Korea by force, it added.

This is a chicken-egg argument. North Korea started testing missiles before the announcement of the joint exercises, even after Trump flew to the DMZ and encouraged Kim to meet him there in friendship. The Hanoi summit turned out to be a bust for Kim, who wanted — perhaps needed? — some sanctions relief as an outcome without giving up much of anything, but until Pyongyang started launching missiles, the door was still somewhat open.

One has to wonder whether Kim isn’t coming under pressure himself. He might be getting trapped by extreme hardliners who don’t want any kind of rapprochement with the US and ultimately want a forced reunification under the Kim regime. Or Kim might be coming under pressure from China, which could use a bargaining chip in the trade war with the US to win some concessions for more cooperation on the Korean situation.

At any rate, this looks a little more complex than just a temper tantrum. The return to the posturing of pre-2017 hints that what appeared to be a promising thaw might have been nothing more than a brief fluctuation in a long-frozen conflict.

The post North Korea missile launches: Dear Leader’s temper tantrum? appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group TrumpKim-300x153 North Korea missile launches: Dear Leader’s temper tantrum? The Blog South Korea North Korea missile test Kim Jong-un joint military exercises donald trump   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Analysts: North Korea has ramped up production of nuclear material, missiles during diplomacy with Trump

Westlake Legal Group nk Analysts: North Korea has ramped up production of nuclear material, missiles during diplomacy with Trump Yongbyon Trump The Blog nuclear North Korea missiles Kim Jong-un icbm enrichment

The “denuclearization” effort seems to be having rather the opposite effect.

Analysts who pore over satellite images of the isolated country paint a different picture: North Korea’s scientists have ramped up production of long-range missiles and the fissile material used in nuclear weapons…

Analysts at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency say North Korea’s scientists may have produced 12 nuclear weapons since the first Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore last year. In total, Pyongyang could currently possess between 20 and 60 nuclear bombs, according to estimates by various security analysts.

The evidence is circumstantial, as satellite surveillance always is, but watch below as the WSJ makes its case. North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear facility does appear to be humming along with activity. Which isn’t surprising, is it? The NorKs have suspended missile testing while the U.S. has scaled back military exercises with South Korea, but America continues to wield its big club, sanctions. Go figure that the NorKs are keeping their big club in hand too.

Plus, cranking out new nuclear bombs is North Korea’s way of buying more chips for its eventual negotiations with the U.S. A year ago they might have been expected to surrender, say, 30 bombs in exchange for major U.S. concessions. What can they get a year later in return for 40 bombs instead?

Having the NorKs arm up while Kim gladhands Trump at the DMZ is embarrassing for the White House, but in Trump’s defense, what’s the alternative? If he’s not willing to see the Korean peninsula laid waste, persisting with halting top-level diplomacy while the regime quietly increases its nuclear advantage over its neighbors is the only option. I doubt anyone in the administration believes at this point that the U.S. can intimidate North Korea into denuclearizing; Trump’s two summits with Kim are the best evidence yet that we’ve committed to a containment strategy with the North, with the White House possibly focused now on limiting Kim’s intercontinental reach than on limiting his nuclear supply. The NorKs have already tested missiles capable of reaching the U.S. but it’s unclear what sort of nuclear warhead they might carry and even whether the missiles could survive reentry into the atmosphere from orbit. If Trump could convince Kim to destroy his long-range missiles while retaining his weapons in return for sanctions relief, which would leave Japan and South Korea but not the United States under threat, would he go for that? America First!

If he did, would anything be left of America’s Far East alliances?

North Korea fired two short-range missiles into the sea just yesterday to show Trump that they’re impatient with negotiations. Three days ago they threatened to end the moratorium on missile tests, upping the ante; if Kim resumed long-range tests, lord only knows how Trump would respond. You can understand, though, why Iran would be reluctant to sit down with Trump as it watches this all play out. What has the North gained from diplomacy besides a shot of prestige for Kim in having the president of the United States’s undivided attention? Sanctions on North Korea have remained in effect throughout, and Iran doesn’t have the same thirst for legitimacy via a summit photo op as North Korea does since it enjoys relations already with most other countries in the world. What Trump could do to try to entice Iran to the table is lift some sanctions on North Korea preemptively as a reward for their willingness to talk, signaling to Iran that the path to relief from their own sanctions depends on them chatting with him first. But then he’ll be attacked by hawks here for weakness, and he’ll need a concession from Kim in return in order to save face. It’s unthinkable that he’d phase out some sanctions purely as a goodwill gesture, without reciprocation. I think that’s what he’ll end up doing — limited sanctions relief in return for some NorK concession packaged with arrangements for a third summit. Then it’ll be up to Iran to reach out.

Exit question: Based on everything that’s happened, if Iran wants a heart-to-heart with Trump, they should probably start building their own nuclear weapons, right? That’s the incentive scheme here.

The post Analysts: North Korea has ramped up production of nuclear material, missiles during diplomacy with Trump appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group nk-300x153 Analysts: North Korea has ramped up production of nuclear material, missiles during diplomacy with Trump Yongbyon Trump The Blog nuclear North Korea missiles Kim Jong-un icbm enrichment   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Rocketman returns: North Korea fires two missiles

Westlake Legal Group TrumpKim Rocketman returns: North Korea fires two missiles The Blog North Korea Kim Jong-un Foreign Policy donald trump

North Korea is testing out two kinds of missiles. The launches happened along the eastern coast of North Korea early this morning – something which appears to have seriously alarmed South Korea. Reuters reports the United Nations could get involved, too.

The South’s National Security Council said it believed the missiles were a new type of ballistic missile but it would make a final assessment with the United States.

Firing a ballistic missile would be a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban the North from the use of such technology. North Korea has rejected the restriction as an infringement of its sovereign right to self-defense.

North Korea launched the missiles from the east coast city of Wonsan with one flying about 430 km (267 miles) and the other 690 km (428 miles) over the sea. They both reached an altitude of 50 km (30 miles), an official at South Korea’s Defense Ministry said.

Some analysts said the North appeared to have retested missiles it fired in May, but two South Korean military officials said the missiles appeared to be a new design.

Those expecting the UN to actually do something shouldn’t start holding their breaths.

It is extremely interesting to see these launches happen shortly after or during National Security Adviser John Bolton’s visit to South Korea for talks with their government. Bolton tweeted his talks with South Korea went well but has yet to make a statement regarding the North Korean tests. South Korea has spoken with the U.S. and Japan. Even China made a statement on the launches with Reuters reporting they want the U.S. and North Korea to get back to the negotiating table.

The tests are being characterized as posturing by North Korea in hopes of getting more concessions during negotiations. Voice of America – the United States government-funded news entity – essentially suggested it was a failure of diplomacy by President Donald Trump.

It has been less than a month since Trump shook hands with Kim at the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas — a meeting White House officials portrayed at the time as a breakthrough.

Since then, North Korea has not responded to U.S. requests to begin working-level negotiations. Instead, the North has continued escalating provocations and threats, in what analysts say is an attempt to improve its negotiating position.

Last week, North Korea’s foreign ministry hinted Pyongyang could forego the talks and may resume intercontinental ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests if the United States and South Korea go ahead with planned joint military exercises…

The provocations are a reminder that North Korea is taking advantage of the stalled talks to continue developing its nuclear and weapons programs, despite Trump’s insistence that talks are progressing.

“The Kim regime likely times these tests for international signaling purposes, applying political pressure on the U.S. and South Korea in an effort to get more for less in future negotiations,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

“This contrast raises questions about North Korean intentions,” Easley said. “Kim’s plan appears to be keeping his country relatively closed and nuclear armed, while pocketing any political or economic benefits on offer.”

North Korea is definitely taking a harder line, which seems odd given the ‘great friendship’ Trump claims to have with Kim. A source told Reuters a planned meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a top North Korean official at a conference in Thailand is off. This appears to be Kim trying to please someone, possibly the military, to keep himself in power.

The solution isn’t going to be easy, especially if North Korea keeps this posturing. America should be willing to open up trade with Kim because it can encourage freedom in the long run. People have to remember the Chinese – for all of their claimed adherence to Mao – are slowly, but surely liberalizing their economy (even if their human rights record is atrocious). A flow of American capital into North Korea could give everyone, from those in the palace to those in the slums, the chance to better their lives through commerce. It won’t happen as quickly as we’d like to see it happen, but the alternatives are either the current situation or war. No one should want the latter, while the former isn’t working at all.

The post Rocketman returns: North Korea fires two missiles appeared first on Hot Air.

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Trump Officials Are Split Over Approach to North Korea Talks

WASHINGTON — As President Trump reveled in his historic weekend stroll into North Korea, administration officials were sharply at odds on Monday over what demands to make of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, while preparing to restart negotiations on a nuclear deal.

Pushing an internal debate into the open, John R. Bolton, the national security adviser and the most prominent hawk in the administration, reacted angrily to a report in The New York Times about the possibility of a deal to effectively freeze North Korea’s nuclear activity in return for American concessions.

Some officials are considering a freeze as a first step toward a more comprehensive agreement for Mr. Kim to give up his entire nuclear program. Mr. Bolton has long insisted that the North Koreans dismantle their nuclear program and give up their entire arsenal of warheads before getting any rewards.

“This was a reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the president,” Mr. Bolton wrote on Twitter. “There should be consequences.”

But some senior administration officials have been discussing the idea of an incremental approach under which North Korea would first close down its nuclear facilities to prevent it from making new fissile material, in effect freezing its program but leaving its existing arsenal in place.

In exchange, the Americans would make some concessions that would help improve the living conditions in North Korea, which is under heavy sanctions, or strengthen relations between Washington and Pyongyang.

Among those considering such ideas are senior diplomats, say people familiar with the discussions.

Mr. Trump, eager to burnish his self-constructed image as a dealmaker in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, appears open to embracing a step-by-step process. Mr. Trump did not publicly mention full denuclearization during his hour at the border between the two Koreas on Sunday or after talks with South Korean leaders.

In April, during a visit to the White House by President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, Mr. Trump signaled that gradual concessions by both sides might be necessary.

“There are various smaller deals that could happen,” he said. “You could work out step-by-step pieces, but at this moment, we’re talking about the big deal. The big deal is we have to get rid of nuclear weapons.”

American officials involved in North Korea policy assert, even in private, that the administration’s long-run goal has been consistent all along: to have Mr. Kim, with whom Mr. Trump met at the border on Sunday, give up all of his nuclear weapons and the ability to build more.

In the short run, Mr. Trump’s public comments — and the showmanship of going to the Demilitarized Zone and stepping over a low concrete barrier to walk with Mr. Kim on his soil — is another sign of the limited influence of Mr. Trump’s most hard-line advisers. Mr. Bolton was not at the meeting in North Korea but on a scheduled trip to Mongolia. Last month, Mr. Trump at the last minute rejected Mr. Bolton’s urging for a military strike on Iran.

On Monday, after Mr. Bolton made his statement, Mr. Trump spoke effusively on Twitter about his weekend trip to the Koreas without disputing the possibility of a step-by-step approach. “While there, it was great to call on Chairman Kim of North Korea to have our very well covered meeting,” he tweeted. “Good things can happen for all!”

Mr. Trump has given Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responsibility for restarting negotiations, which had stalled after a failed February summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim.

It was the second time the two had met, and Mr. Trump at the time had insisted that Mr. Kim give up his entire nuclear program, including an estimated 30 to 60 warheads, in exchange for sanctions relief.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157241079_ca340044-8697-4dd4-ae34-82c45ea8497e-articleLarge Trump Officials Are Split Over Approach to North Korea Talks Yongbyon (North Korea) United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J State Department Pompeo, Mike Obama, Barack Nuclear Weapons North Korea Korean Demilitarized Zone Kim Jong-un Embargoes and Sanctions Bolton, John R Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, met Sunday on the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Bolton and Mr. Pompeo had both urged the president to settle for nothing less than a grand deal, but Mr. Pompeo now appears open to considering a gradual approach.

The State Department declined to comment on Monday. On Sunday night, Stephen E. Biegun, the United States’ special representative for North Korea, told The Times that its account of the ideas being discussed in the administration were “pure speculation” and that his team was “not preparing any new proposal currently.”

Some analysts said any approach must start with the United States and North Korea committing to a common definition of denuclearization. Without an ironclad definition, there is greater risk the North Koreans could back out of an interim deal, as they have done under previous American administrations, they said.

“There’s a myriad of ways that North Korea can pull it back,” said Jung H. Pak, a former C.I.A. analyst who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

For months after the meeting in Hanoi, there was no senior-level contact between Washington and Pyongyang, then Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim exchanged letters.

That paved the way for Mr. Trump’s Twitter post from the G20 summit in Japan on Saturday, in which he said he would like to see Mr. Kim during a scheduled visit Sunday to the Demilitarized Zone, on the border between the two Koreas, to shake Mr. Kim’s hand and to “say Hello(?)!”

Mr. Pompeo and other officials scrambled to organize for a potential meeting. Mr. Trump asked Mr. Pompeo to accompany him to the heavily guarded border village of Panmunjom, along with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, his eldest daughter and his son-in-law. Mr. Bolton notably flew to Mongolia instead. “Delighted to be in Ulaanbaatar,” he said on Twitter above a photograph of him smiling with the country’s secretary of state, Davaasuren Damdinsuren.

Though Mr. Pompeo is often aligned with Mr. Bolton on an aggressive approach to national security issues — Mr. Pompeo has also advocated a strike on Iran — the secretary of state is acutely attuned to Mr. Trump’s desires and has tried diplomacy with the North Koreans when commanded by the president.

In interviews and talks in recent weeks, Mr. Pompeo has not mentioned his earlier insistence that North Koreans must first turn over a complete list of nuclear assets, which some experts say is a necessary first step to establishing baselines for full denuclearization.

Administration officials say Mr. Biegun has been trying to come up with creative ways to get North Korea to at least agree with the Americans on a common definition of denuclearization and to start the process of shutting down its program. American intelligence officials have assessed that Mr. Kim will probably never give up all of his nuclear weapons.

That is where serious consideration of a step-by-step process comes in.

In January, during a speech at Stanford University, Mr. Biegun signaled that American negotiators might be willing to push off the demand for an inventory of nuclear assets and engage in a more gradual process. “Sequencing always confounds negotiators,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s grand-deal gambit in Hanoi upended that thinking. But that summit’s failure has left the door open for other ideas. Negotiators are back at a new starting line, essentially the same place they were after Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim’s first summit, held in Singapore in June 2018.

Doing a yearslong gradual process with a freeze on activity as the initial goal would amount to tacit acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear state. But American officials in both the White House and State Department say sanctions would not be lifted until North Korea completely gets rid of its nuclear weapons and its program. That includes the five sets of sanctions imposed by the Obama and Trump administrations starting in 2016 that North Korean officials say they most want the United States to cancel. In Hanoi, Mr. Kim made this demand of Mr. Trump.

For now, American officials might consider allowing more robust humanitarian aid to enter North Korea or some limited economic exchanges between the North and South, which under Mr. Moon has been pushing forward on an inter-Korean peace process. The two sides could also open interests offices in each other’s capitals.

In the approaches under consideration, those concessions would happen only if North Korea agrees to halt all its uranium enrichment — not only at Yongbyon, the central site of its nuclear program, but also at Kangson, another site known to American officials.

American intelligence officials also suspect there may be a third site, say experts on North Korea’s nuclear program.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Split Emerges in Administration Over Approach to North Korea Talks

WASHINGTON — As President Trump reveled in his historic weekend stroll into North Korea, administration officials were sharply at odds on Monday over what demands to make of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, as they prepared to restart negotiations on a nuclear deal.

Pushing an internal debate into the open, John R. Bolton, the national security adviser and the most prominent hawk in the administration, reacted angrily to a report in The New York Times about the possibility of a deal to effectively freeze North Korea’s nuclear activity in return for American concessions.

Officials are considering a freeze as a first step toward a more comprehensive agreement for Mr. Kim to give up his entire nuclear program. Mr. Bolton has long insisted that the North Koreans completely dismantle their nuclear program and give up their entire arsenal of warheads before getting any rewards.

“This was a reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the president,” Mr. Bolton wrote on Twitter. “There should be consequences.”

But some senior administration officials have been discussing the idea of an incremental approach under which North Korea would first close down its nuclear facilities to prevent it from making new fissile material, in effect freezing its program but leaving its existing arsenal in place.

In exchange, the Americans would make some concessions that would help improve the living conditions of North Korea, which is under heavy sanctions, or strengthen relations between Washington and Pyongyang.

Among those considering such ideas are senior diplomats, say people familiar with the discussions.

Mr. Trump, eager to burnish his self-constructed image as a dealmaker in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, appears open to embracing a step-by-step process. Mr. Trump did not publicly mention full denuclearization during his hour at the border between the two Koreas on Sunday or after talks with South Korean leaders.

In April, during a visit to the White House by President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, Mr. Trump signaled that gradual concessions by both sides might be necessary.

“There are various smaller deals that could happen,” he said. “You could work out step-by-step pieces, but at this moment, we’re talking about the big deal. The big deal is we have to get rid of nuclear weapons.”

American officials involved in North Korea policy assert, even in private, that the administration’s long-run goal has been consistent all along: to have Mr. Kim, with whom Mr. Trump met at the border on Sunday, give up all of his nuclear weapons and the ability to build more.

In the short run, Mr. Trump’s public comments — and the showmanship of going to the Demilitarized Zone and stepping over a low concrete barrier to walk with Mr. Kim on his soil — is another sign of the limited influence of Mr. Trump’s most hard-line advisers. Mr. Bolton was not at the meeting in North Korea but on a scheduled trip to Mongolia. Last month, Mr. Trump at the last minute rejected Mr. Bolton’s urging for a military strike on Iran.

On Monday, after Mr. Bolton made his statement, Mr. Trump spoke effusively on Twitter about his weekend trip to the Koreas without disputing the possibility of a step-by-step approach. “While there, it was great to call on Chairman Kim of North Korea to have our very well covered meeting,” he tweeted. “Good things can happen for all!”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157241079_ca340044-8697-4dd4-ae34-82c45ea8497e-articleLarge Split Emerges in Administration Over Approach to North Korea Talks Yongbyon (North Korea) United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J State Department Pompeo, Mike Obama, Barack Nuclear Weapons North Korea Korean Demilitarized Zone Kim Jong-un Embargoes and Sanctions Bolton, John R Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, met Sunday on the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Trump has given Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responsibility for restarting negotiations, which had stalled after a failed February summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim. It was the second time the two had met, and Mr. Trump at the time had insisted that Mr. Kim give up his entire nuclear program, including an estimated 30 to 60 warheads, in exchange for sanctions relief.

Mr. Bolton and Mr. Pompeo had both urged the president to settle for nothing less than a grand deal, but Mr. Pompeo now appears open to considering a gradual approach.

The State Department declined to comment on Monday. On Sunday evening, Stephen E. Biegun, the United States’ special representative for North Korea, told The Times that its account of the ideas being discussed in the administration were “pure speculation” and that his team was “not preparing any new proposal currently.”

Some analysts said any approach must start with the United States and North Korea committing to a common definition of denuclearization. Without an ironclad definition, there is greater risk the North Koreans could back out of an interim deal, as they have done under previous American administrations, they said. “There’s a myriad of ways that North Korea can pull it back,” said Jung H. Pak, a former C.I.A. analyst who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

For months after the meeting in Hanoi, there was no senior-level contact between Washington and Pyongyang, then Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim exchanged letters. That paved the way for Mr. Trump’s tweet from the G20 summit in Japan on Saturday, in which he said he would like to see Mr. Kim during a scheduled visit Sunday to the Demilitarized Zone, on the border between the two Koreas, to shake Mr. Kim’s hand and to “say Hello(?)!”

Mr. Pompeo and other officials scrambled to organize for a potential meeting. Mr. Trump asked Mr. Pompeo to accompany him to the heavily guarded border village of Panmunjom, along with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, his eldest daughter and his son-in-law. Mr. Bolton notably flew to Mongolia instead. “Delighted to be in Ulaanbaatar,” he said on Twitter above a photograph of him smiling with the country’s secretary of state, Davaasuren Damdinsuren.

Though Mr. Pompeo is often aligned with Mr. Bolton on an aggressive approach to national security issues — Mr. Pompeo has also advocated a strike on Iran — the secretary of state is acutely attuned to Mr. Trump’s desires and has tried diplomacy with the North Koreans when commanded by the president.

In interviews and talks in recent weeks, Mr. Pompeo has not mentioned his earlier insistence that North Koreans must first turn over a complete list of nuclear assets, which some experts say is a necessary first step to establishing baselines for full denuclearization.

Administration officials say Mr. Biegun has been trying to come up with creative ways to get North Korea to at least agree with the Americans on a common definition of denuclearization and to start the process of shutting down its program. American intelligence officials have assessed that Mr. Kim will most likely never give up all his nuclear weapons.

That is where serious consideration of a step-by-step process comes in.

In January, during a speech at Stanford University, Mr. Biegun signaled that American negotiators might be willing to push off the demand for an inventory of nuclear assets and engage in a more gradual process. “Sequencing always confounds negotiators,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s grand-deal gambit in Hanoi upended that thinking. But that summit’s failure has left the door open for other ideas. Negotiators are back at a new starting line, essentially the same place they were after Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim’s first summit, held in Singapore in June 2018.

Doing a yearslong gradual process with a freeze on activity as the initial goal would amount to tacit acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear state. But American officials in both the White House and State Department say sanctions would not be lifted until North Korea completely gets rid of its nuclear weapons and its program. That includes the five sets of sanctions imposed by the Obama and Trump administrations starting in 2016 that North Korean officials say they most want the United States to cancel. In Hanoi, Mr. Kim made this demand of Mr. Trump.

For now, American officials might consider allowing more robust humanitarian aid to enter North Korea or some limited economic exchanges between the North and South, which under Mr. Moon has been pushing forward on an inter-Korean peace process. The two sides could also open interests offices in each other’s capitals.

In the approaches under consideration, those concessions would only happen, though, if North Korea agrees to halt all its uranium enrichment — not only at Yongbyon, the central site of its nuclear program, but also at Kangson, another site known to American officials. American intelligence officials also suspect there may be a third site, say experts on North Korea’s nuclear program.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Why wasn’t John Bolton included in Trump’s Korea trip?

Westlake Legal Group t Why wasn’t John Bolton included in Trump’s Korea trip? Tucker Carlson Trump trip The Blog North Korea national security advisor Mongolia Kim Jong-un john bolton denuclearization

Is it common for the president’s National Security Advisor to skip a high-stakes summit involving nuclear diplomacy on the Korea peninsula and, just maybe, a brief meeting with North Korea’s supreme leader? Let’s ask an expert.

The media, and not just the U.S. media either, noticed Bolton’s absence:

As he made history Sunday by becoming the first United States president to cross the demilitarized zone into North Korea, Donald Trump was joined not by national security adviser John Bolton, but by Tucker Carlson. In some ways, the choice makes sense—the Fox News host has counseled the president in the past, apparently including urging him not to attack Iran, something Bolton had encouraged. It also makes sense that Trump wouldn’t want Bolton around; it’s no secret Pyongyang considers the hawkish national security adviser, who once called for a preemptive strike against North Korea, persona non grata. Trump’s attempt to continue nuclear talks, which broke down in February when he walked away from the negotiating table, surely stood a better chance without Bolton there.

But allowing Carlson to tag along—and banishing Bolton to Mongolia to “to consult with officials on regional security issues”—only added to the bizarre spectacle of the impromptu meeting which was, like much of Trump’s diplomacy with North Korea, more about pageantry than policy.

It’s true that the North Koreans despise Bolton and target him sporadically with propaganda, but foreign countries don’t dictate which advisors accompany the president on diplomatic visits. If need be, Trump could have brought Bolton along and asked him to hang back during the visit with Kim. It’s also true, as a Twitter pal reminded me, that Bolton wasn’t off playing golf this weekend while Trump was in Korea. He was in Mongolia, a nation eyed by the U.S. as a potential player in diplomacy with the NorKs. Maybe Bolton was chatting with them about hosting a third Trump/Kim summit. He might not have been excluded from the Korean denuclearization process, in other words, so much as he was working on a different arm of it.

But why couldn’t he have met with Mongolia’s leadership after the Korean summit? And how can we overlook the symbolism of Tucker Carlson accompanying Trump on his Korean rapprochement while the NSA was off in another country? Carlson has attacked Bolton viciously on his show lately, describing him amid the debate over war with Iran as a “bureaucratic tapeworm” who “live[s] forever in the bowels of the federal agencies, periodically reemerging to cause pain and suffering but never suffering himself.” (An odd criticism in Bolton’s case, as he spent more than a decade out of government before reemerging as Trump’s NSA — much of that time on, er, Fox News.) The Tucker narrative is that Trump is forever being tempted by the sirens of interventionism, with Bolton the demonic face of that effort. Trump seems to share that belief, allegedly telling a “confidant” last week of his advisors, “These people want to push us into a war, and it’s so disgusting.” Trump watches Carlson’s show regularly, of course, and he’s discussed Iran policy with him personally. To have Tucker on hand for the Kim meeting while Bolton is on assignment abroad reeks of a deliberate snub.

And so the question: Is Bolton being marginalized by the president? This tweet, about the NYT story that Jazz wrote about earlier, got some attention online this morning.

Maybe he’s right and the Times piece is the product of some disgruntled aides trying to force a nuclear freeze onto Trump’s menu of options on the peninsula. (The Times stood by its reporting, for what that’s worth.) But maybe Bolton, the National Security Advisor, is simply out of the loop of the president’s thinking. If so, it wouldn’t be the first time that Trump has soured on a top advisor and chosen to cut him out of his deliberations instead of firing him forthrightly. John Kelly, remember, was brought in as chief of staff with plans to serve as an absolute gatekeeper to the president. All requests for face time with Trump, even by Jared and Ivanka, would go through him. He’d attend all presidential meetings personally. “Discipline” was the West Wing’s motto at the start of the Kelly era. In less than a year, discipline had broken down so completely that Kelly was reportedly seen going to the gym in the middle of the day and telling friends that he didn’t care if Trump was impeached. And yet, he lingered. From Trump’s perspective, it seems, so long as Kelly wasn’t making too much trouble for him, it was easier for awhile just to keep him on staff and ignore him rather than fire him, endure another round of “White House in disarray” headline, and then have to go looking for a new chief.

Is that Bolton’s fate now? NSA in name only, a figurehead kept around to reassure hawks that they have a forceful voice inside the building while Trump charts a path for America’s future abroad with Fox News’s 8 p.m. guy? I’m thinking no: If Trump were to come out today and confirm that he’s considering a nuclear freeze with the NorKs, just as the Times said and Bolton denied, Bolton would have to resign on principle. It’s one thing to be marginalized, it’s another to look ridiculous.

Here’s Tucker sounding even more Tucker-y than usual yesterday on Fox.

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A nuclear freeze with North Korea?

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There’s a highly disturbing story in the New York Times this morning which, if true (and that remains a major “if”) would represent a worrying shift in foreign policy regarding North Korea. Without evidence or any named sources, and despite being expressly denied by multiple officials, the Gray Lady reports that the President is thinking of offering Kim Jong-un the option of a “nuclear freeze” where he could keep his nuclear weapons, but dismantle the North’s ability to create more weapons-grade fissile materials. This would represent a complete reversal of Donald Trump’s position over the course of his presidency.

But for weeks before the meeting, which started as a Twitter offer by the president for Mr. Kim to drop by at the Demilitarized Zone and “say hello,” a real idea has been taking shape inside the Trump administration that officials hope might create a foundation for a new round of negotiations.

The concept would amount to a nuclear freeze, one that essentially enshrines the status quo, and tacitly accepts the North as a nuclear power, something administration officials have often said they would never stand for.

It falls far short of Mr. Trump’s initial vow 30 months ago to solve the North Korea nuclear problem, but it might provide him with a retort to campaign-season critics who say the North Korean dictator has been playing the American president brilliantly by giving him the visuals he craves while holding back on real concessions.

Allowing North Korea to remain a permanent member of the global nuclear powers club while easing sanctions and effectively normalizing their position on the world stage sounds like one of the worst possible outcomes. If the end of this road finds Kim in possession of all of his warheads and the missiles needed to launch them, then what was the point of all of these sanctions over so many years? I suppose there’s some comfort in the idea that he couldn’t continue to expand his stockpile, but it’s cold comfort indeed. And do we need to be reminded of how many times Kim and his family have lied to the world and broken their promises?

Consider the fact that North Korea was estimated to already have at least 60 nuclear weapons as of last summer. The National Interest featured estimates indicating that they could have more than 100 by the end of next year based on their current rate of production. That’s a lot of nukes to leave laying around in the arsenal of a madman.

But is this report accurate? The paper quotes “a senior United States official involved in North Korean policy” in the article, but even there the quote isn’t related to a freeze. Not only does the Times fail to cite a single administration source for this claim, they specifically include an official response from the State Department’s envoy to North Korea, Stephen E. Biegun. He called this report “pure speculation” and was then quoted as saying, “What is accurate is not new, and what is new is not accurate.”

Given all of those considerations, there are a few possibilities as to how this story made it into print. The first is that this really is something Trump is considering and has discussed with aides and somebody leaked it. That seems unlikely in the extreme, given Trump’s history on this subject, but if he doesn’t see a path forward I suppose anything is possible. That would be extremely disappointing, however.

Another possibility is that this is an approach somebody inside the administration has been pushing for as a more moderate solution, but they haven’t been able to get Trump to consider it. That person might have leaked it themselves just to try to push the conversation forward.

The other possibility is that somebody close to the President dumped it out there as a trial balloon to see how everyone would react. That’s a safe move because the President could still come out and deny it, killing the story before it gets out of control. All I can say is that you should keep an eye on the President’s Twitter feed. I’m confident he’ll be providing a definitive answer soon enough.

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Video: Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham Hurt During Scuffle With North Korean Guards

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The new Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham hasn’t been on the job long, but she’s already making herself a a household name by physically confronting North Korean guards trying to prevent the American press from witnessing a historic moment.

According to Fox News, Grisham was slightly hurt with bumps and bruises while she was captured on video creating a pathway for the American press as Kim Jong Un’s personal guard attempted to stop them as Un and President Donald Trump met and shook hands across the demilitarized zone on Sunday. Reporters were calling it an “all out brawl.”

Thanks to reporters on the scene we have video of the altercation.

In the video you can see Grisham using her full body weight to push aside a guard. As she does she shouts “go go” to reporters who take the opportunity to slip past thanks to the gap Grisham created. As the reporters break away you can hear Grisham telling guards “no.”

Even Jim Acosta reported the news without spin.

Fox News reported that it wasn’t clear whether or not Grisham needed medical attention afterward, but I’m willing to bet that if she’s willing to engage in physical conflict that a few bumps and bruises isn’t going to concern her.

There’s currently no word as to why Kim’s personal guard was trying to stop American press from witnessing this event, but it wasn’t entirely successful thanks to one determined woman. North Korea is known for having everything coming in and out of the country on lock-down due to its dictatorial regime. Trump has been trying to see to it that war is avoided with the communist hermit kingdom after coming very close during the early part of his presidency.

After some back and forth between the two leaders, Trump and Kim have an vastly improved relationship, leading to this moment where a sitting U.S. president has stepped foot into North Korea. This has never happened before, and it’s a moment worthy of the press’s attention.

 

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In New Talks, U.S. May Settle for a Nuclear Freeze by North Korea

SEOUL, South Korea — From a seemingly fanciful tweet to a historic step into North Korean territory, President Trump’s largely improvised third meeting on Sunday with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, was a masterpiece of drama, the kind of made-for-TV spectacle that Mr. Trump treasures.

But for weeks before the meeting, which started as a Twitter offer by the president for Mr. Kim to drop by at the Demilitarized Zone and “say hello,” a real idea has been taking shape inside the Trump administration that officials hope might create a foundation for a new round of negotiations.

The concept would amount to a nuclear freeze, one that essentially enshrines the status quo, and tacitly accepts the North as a nuclear power, something administration officials have often said they would never stand for.

It falls far short of Mr. Trump’s initial vow 30 months ago to solve the North Korea nuclear problem, but it might provide him with a retort to campaign-season critics who say the North Korean dictator has been playing the American president brilliantly by giving him the visuals he craves while holding back on real concessions.

While the approach could stop that arsenal from growing, it would not, at least in the near future, dismantle any existing weapons, variously estimated at 20 to 60. Nor would it limit the North’s missile capability.

The administration still insists in public and in private that its goals remain full denuclearization. But recognizing that its maximalist demand for the near-term surrender of Mr. Kim’s cherished nuclear program is going nowhere, it is weighing a new approach that would begin with a significant — but limited — first step.

American negotiators would seek to expand on Mr. Kim’s offer in Hanoi in February to give up the country’s main nuclear-fuel production site, at Yongbyon, in return for the most onerous sanctions against the country being lifted. Mr. Trump, under pressure from his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and his national security adviser, John R. Bolton, rejected that proposal, because so much of the North’s capability now lies outside the vast Yongbyon complex.

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The Yongbyon nuclear complex.CreditDigitalGlobe, via Getty Images

The idea now is to get Mr. Kim’s new negotiating team to agree to expand the definition of the Yongbyon site well beyond its physical boundaries. If successful — and there are many obstacles, including the North accepting intrusive, perhaps invasive inspections — it would effectively amount to a nuclear freeze that keeps North Korea from making new nuclear material.

But a senior United States official involved in North Korean policy said there was no way to know if North Korea would agree to this. In the past, he said, its negotiators have insisted that only Mr. Kim himself could define what dismantling Yongbyon meant.

To make any deal work, the North would have to agree to include many facilities around the country, among them a covert site called Kangson, which is outside Yongbyon and is where American and South Korean intelligence agencies believe the country is still producing uranium fuel.

A president embarking on a re-election campaign — and who complained repeatedly on Sunday that he receives no credit from the media for de-escalating tensions with North Korea and for the freeze on underground nuclear tests and test-launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles — would most likely cast this as a victory, as another restraint on Mr. Kim. It would help Mr. Trump argue that he is making progress, albeit slowly, on one of the world’s most intractable crises.

And it would be progress after three face-to-face meetings — first in Singapore a little more than a year ago, then in Hanoi, then in an hourlong discussion at the DMZ on Sunday — that have produced warm exchanges but no shared definitions of what it meant to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. A year after that first meeting, the North has yet to turn over an inventory of what it possesses, claiming that would give the United States a map of military targets.

On Sunday evening, the State Department’s envoy to North Korea, Stephen E. Biegun, said that this account of the ideas being generated in the administration was “pure speculation” and that his team was “not preparing any new proposal currently.”

“What is accurate is not new, and what is new is not accurate,” he said.

Presumably, Mr. Trump’s freeze would have to be a permanent one, or he will have gotten less from Mr. Kim than President Barack Obama got from Iran in a deal Mr. Trump dismissed as “disastrous.” And even a successful freeze would constitute a major retreat from the goal of the “rapid denuclearization of North Korea, to be completed by January 2021,” as Mr. Pompeo put it last fall.

The two leaders on Sunday. Mr. Trump prizes his personal relationship with Mr. Kim.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

But it does have the benefit of being vastly more achievable.

More than two years ago, on his first trip to Seoul, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson rejected a similar idea. He said it would “leave North Korea with significant capabilities that would represent a true threat, not just to the region, but to American forces, as well.”

But Mr. Trump, who prizes his personal relationship with Mr. Kim, would most likely argue that a freeze was groundbreaking. (He has also described Mr. Tillerson, who he dismissed early in 2018, as “dumb as a rock” so he would most likely not be limited by his past declarations.)

In fact, this approach has been attempted before: It bears strong similarities to the nuclear freeze President Bill Clinton negotiated with Mr. Kim’s father in 1994. But that was a dozen years before the North’s first nuclear test, and before it possessed either nuclear weapons or the capability to deliver them.

Mr. Clinton’s deal held for five or six years, until it became obvious the North was cheating by seeking a new approach to the bomb — uranium enrichment. The North broke out of it in 2003. George W. Bush negotiated a partial freeze at Yongbyon in 2007; it too fell apart.

The approach raises the larger question of whether Mr. Trump really cares about striking a tough denuclearization deal, or whether, as many critics charge, he is mainly interested in the illusion of progress to present himself to voters as a peacemaker.

“The president constantly takes credit for the fact that the prospect of war has receded,” said Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who was involved in the Bush administration’s confrontations with the North. “But it went up not because North Korea was doing anything differently, but because the administration was threatening war. And it went down not because the threat had lessened, but because the administration seemed content with the chimera of denuclearization.”

Mr. Trump’s more limited expectations may, however, mesh perfectly with Mr. Kim’s plans. While Mr. Kim is eager to shed all the economic sanctions on his country, some North Korea analysts believe he would happily accept only partial sanctions relief along with lowered expectations that he might actually surrender his arsenal.

Mr. Trump with South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, at a news conference on Sunday.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“I do think Kim could offer just enough on the negotiating table, such as the Yongbyon nuclear facility plus yet another suspected nuclear facility, in order to secure an interim deal with Trump and at least some sanctions relief,” said Sue Mi Terry, who served at the C.I.A. and the National Security Council under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Mr. Kim “may calculate that this is still not a bad deal because it would allow the North to keep its nuclear and missile arsenal — and it would give Trump an opportunity to claim he had achieved something none of his predecessors had,” Ms. Terry said.

At the core of Mr. Trump’s argument is that his friendship with Mr. Kim alone constitutes diplomatic success; on Sunday, the president asserted that the “tremendous danger” from North Korea he inherited when he took office has passed. “We’re a lot safer today,” Mr. Trump said before a meeting with South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in.

Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, said, “Several times he spoke as if friendship with Kim Jong-un is an end in itself.”

Mr. Trump may once have warned of “fire and fury” if Mr. Kim failed to surrender his weapons, but he “now embraces that these meetings aren’t about getting to denuclearization but instead having a good one-to-one relationship with Kim Jong-un,” said Van Jones, a former senior country director for Korea at the Department of Defense during the Obama administration

“That’s legitimation of a nuclear state,” Mr. Jones said.

If so, the outline of the next year or so of negotiations may be taking shape: A series of on-and-off negotiations that creep forward, punctuated by feel-good presidential meetings like Sunday’s, while the world grows use to an arsenal of North Korean weapons the way it grew accustomed to Pakistan’s, or India’s or Israel’s.

“Despite all the reality show-like optics of the Singapore and Hanoi summits and this meeting today, what substantive progress have we made in denuclearization?” asked Yun Duk-min, a former chancellor of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy who now teaches at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul. “Not a single nuclear warhead or missile in North Korea has been eliminated. The North’s nuclear facilities are still in operation.”

On Sunday, Mr. Trump was ushered into the Demilitarized Zone by President Moon of South Korea — who then sat outside while Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim met. It was a stunning bit of symbolism for those who argue the South has been sidelined in these talks.

Despite the imagery, Mr. Moon’s government sounded optimistic, at least officially.

“Through their meeting today, the South and North Korean leaders and the American leader made history,” Yoon Do-han, Mr. Moon’s chief presidential press secretary, said in a statement following the border meeting.

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