With the failure of the summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, hopes for a speedy nuclear disarmament of North Korea have been dashed. After two days of talks in Hanoi, the US President and North Korea's rulers could not even agree on minimal compromises. The meeting ended prematurely in the dispute over disarmament and the lifting of sanctions. Trump said before returning to the US, “I could have signed something, but it's better to do something right than fast.”
Both sides blamed each other for failing. Trump said North Korea has demanded the full cessation of sanctions. Also, the planned disarmament steps did not go far enough. In a press conference scheduled shortly after midnight local time, North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho responded that his country had demanded only partial and not complete abolition of sanctions. The simultaneously offered nuclear disarmament is the most far-reaching measure that is currently feasible for his country.
North Korea and Donald Trump: Disputes over disarmament and sanctions
The second summit between Trump and Kim, eight months after Singapore, had previously been surprisingly broken off. With the abrupt end, the chances of finding a peace solution for the Korean peninsula have decreased significantly. The conflict is among the most dangerous in the world. For Trump, who is under pressure from the incriminating statements of his ex-lawyer, this is a big disappointment. With a success on the international stage, he could have distracted from negative headlines at home. The hoped-for Nobel Peace Prize is now even further in the distance.
North Korea's Foreign Minister stressed that the disarmament offer was and will not change in the future. With the lifting of those sanctions that particularly endangered the civilian economy and the lives of the people, North Korea wanted to “permanently and completely eliminate all nuclear production facilities” in the area of the most important atomic complex Yongbyon. For this purpose, US inspectors should also be admitted. In Yongbyon there is a reactor and facilities for the production of plutonium and for the enrichment of uranium, both of which serves the atomic bomb production.
At the summit, North Korea also announced its intention to permanently suspend attempts at nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, the Foreign Minister said. The world's most recent nuclear power has not undergone nuclear and missile testing since November 2017. Experts believe that the weapons arsenal is so advanced that no further testing is needed.
Trump, on the other hand, said that the disarmament offers were insufficient. “They were ready to atomically dismantle a large part of the areas we wanted, but we could not lift all the sanctions, so we will continue to work and see.” However, there are no plans for a third summit. The White House just said the “respective teams” wanted to continue the talks.
“We asked Kim Jong Un to do more, but he was not prepared.”
China and South Korea were disappointed and urged the US and North Korea to keep talking. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) spoke of a “bad news for the world”. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on the other hand, praised Trump for having remained firm and not making any concessions.
The US wanted more far-reaching concessions for nuclear weapons abatement than Kim offered, according to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “We asked him to do more, but he was not prepared.” The US demanded from North Korea to close another site except Yongbyon. “I think he was surprised that we knew about it,” Trump said.
On the vague notion of “denuclearization” with which both sides rewrite nuclear disarmament on the Korean peninsula, Trump said, “Many people do not know what it means, but for me it's pretty clear you need to eliminate their nuclear weapons.”
The food was prepared, but the table was empty
The failure of the summit came as a surprise to many. Kim and Trump were positive about the process earlier in the morning. But even after the failure, the US President found warm-hearted words about the ruler: “We just like each other, we have a good relationship,” Trump said. “I have faith in him, and I take his word for it.” After bad mutual verbal abuse, the relationship between the two has relaxed for some time.
The abrupt end also surprised the White House. Trump's people had even announced a time to sign a joint statement. This usually only happens in international politics if you are practically in agreement.
It was speculated that both sides actually wanted to declare the Korean War (1950-53) officially over. But then there was not a word. More than six decades after the last fighting, only a truce is still valid today. There was no talk of setting up liaison offices in the other country either. The hoped-for resumption of intra-Korean economic projects also fell under the table.
Because of the differences, a lunch had already been prepared. The table was empty. The US President then flew out of Hanoi two hours earlier than planned. From Air Force One Trump calls each with the Japanese Prime Minister Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae In to teach both. Moon, who has met Kim three times, plays an important mediating role.
Pompeo said, “We did not get everything that would have made any sense for the US in the end.” Trump had accommodated the ruler by no longer urging him to quickly disarm his nuclear weapons. There is “no hurry” as long as North Korea renounces nuclear weapons and missile tests. Nevertheless, it was not enough. The leadership in Pyongyang sees their nuclear arsenal as a kind of life insurance against possible attacks or subversive attempts.