President Donald Trump has brushed off threats by Kim Jong Un that North Korea will pull out of the planned summit between the two countries. North Korea is protesting US military drills with South Korea. Trump said that he will still insist on the denuclearization of North Korea ahead of the summit. The President was speaking to reporters at the White House.
Trump insisted that there has not been any formal protest from North Korea about the drills. The President maintained a cautious optimism approach saying that “we will see what happens” ahead of the planned historic meeting. According to a White House official, the administration considers the threats by Kim Jong Un as chest-thumping and a possible attempt to gain negotiation leverage. The President himself made it clear that he is “literally not fazed at all.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also told reporters in a briefing at the White House on Wednesday that the President had always been ready for “tough negotiations.” According to Sanders, North Korea’s threat to withdraw from the talks is not something unusual in these kinds of operations. The planned negotiations between the US and North Korea had appeared to be going on smoothly. This recent threat to pull out is the first serious bump that could signal the nature of complexity that these talks will have.
North Korea also said that it was not interested in a “one sided” negotiation where it will be pressured into giving up its nuclear weapons. This is a surprising change in tone. Kim Jong Un had earlier promised to abandon the nuclear program if there were security guarantees from the US. North Korea had also dropped any preconditions for talks including previous demands for the US to pull its troops out of the Korean Peninsula. In addition to the threats of pulling out, the hermit kingdom also canceled a high-level summit meeting with South Korea that was planned to take place on Wednesday.
North Korea went directly after Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton. A statement released by the country’s first vice foreign minister made it clear that North Korea had already expressed its feelings of “repugnance” towards Bolton. The statement warned that failure to keep the national security advisor in check could jeopardize Trump’s “ambition to make unprecedented success.” Bolton is thought to be pursuing a “Libya model” in the disarmament of North Korea. This would involve full denuclearization, something that North Korea will not give up easily.
International relation analysts who have followed the twists and turns of North Korea’s negotiations with the West in the past are however holding faith. This is not the first time that high-level talks between the North Korea and western nations have failed due to propaganda from the Kim Jong Un family. The White House pushed back on the characterization of military drills in the Peninsula as “provocative” insisting that the planned summit will “absolutely” go on. The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula could be a major win for President Trump. However, it’s clear that things won’t be as easy as most people had hoped.