US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s summit ended earlier than scheduled Thursday, with the two sides failing to reach an agreement, according to the Korean Herald.
“Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that. They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that,” Trump said at the press conference.
Trump said that although the two sides had an agreement ready to be signed, he was not prepared to sign, as conditions were unsatisfactory.
Trump, however, stressed a number of times at the press conference that dialogue with the North has not ended, and that his relationship with Kim remains strong despite the talks falling apart.
Big deals sink talks
An editorial in the Korea Herald said that it was the pursuit of big landmark deals that ultimately sank the talks.
“The US seems to have wanted a denuclearization deal that goes far beyond the dismantlement of the Yongbyon nuclear complex, while North Korea offered the shutdown of the main site in exchange for the complete lifting of US-led sanctions, according to Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a press conference in Hanoi after the US-North Korea summit Thursday.”
“We have to have sanctions, and he wants to denuke, but he wants to just do areas that are less important than the areas that we want,” Trump said.
Yongbyon, believed to account for some 50-70 percent of North Korea’s nuclear capability, has been seen as North Korea’s key bargaining chip but the site appears to not be enough for Trump to lift sanctions that are crippling Pyongyang’s economy.
About 100 kilometers north of Pyongyang, some 400 buildings are densely packed at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Complex dedicated to advancing the country’s nuclear capabilities. It has a 5-Megawatt electric reactor that is capable of producing 7 kilograms of plutonium a year and a uranium enrichment facility, which was built in 2009.
Cheong Seong-chang, vice president of research planning at the Sejong Institute, said that demanding a wide range of concessions, from the nuclear program to the declaration of warheads and missiles, is unrealistic when distrust still exists between the countries.
“(The failed deal) shows that the ‘denuclearization first, rewards later’ strategy of the US will not be accepted by North Korea any more. It seems that the US may have to accept the “Yongbyon plus alpha” deal and give it the end-of-war declaration and a liaison office as corresponding measures,” said Ko Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul.
No new sanctions
Trump refused to comment on imposing more sanctions on North Korea, but said he cares about the people living in North Korea, and that the sanctions imposed are “very strong.”
As for joint US-South Korea military exercises, Trump said he “gave up” on it quite a while ago, as it costs the US “a lot of money.” He also said South Korea should help with those expenses of millions of dollars for the exercises
While explaining that their meeting ended in a friendly and warm atmosphere, Trump went on to point out how previous administrations had failed to resolve the decades-old issue with North Korea.
“This has been going on for many decades. This isn’t me. This should have been solved during many presidential runs, and, you know, people talked about it. They never did anything.”
Pompeo explains no-deal
“We had a productive time, he thought and I thought and Secretary Pompeo thought that actually it was a very productive two days, but sometimes you have to walk. This was just one of those times,” Trump said.
“We had been working our teams, and brought to bear on the North Koreans for weeks to try and develop a path forward,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, according to Vietnam News, explaining the delegation had been expecting big steps forward in Việt Nam after progress made in Singapore.
“We asked him to do more and he was unprepared to do that,” Pompeo said. Progress had been made over the past 36 hours, the top American diplomat said, however the complex discussions would take time.