Don’t Let The Trump Administration Get Away With Lies About North Korea
The Trump Administration is falsely claiming that the North Koreans made commitments at the Singapore Summit that they clearly didn't agree to.
The Trump Administration continues to lie about what was agreed to at the Singapore Summit with Kim Jong Un:
The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it expects Pyongyang to keep its commitment made at a June leaders’ summit to give up its nuclear arms and would press southeast Asian nations during meetings this week to maintain sanctions against North Korea.
Questions have arisen over Pyongyang’s commitment to denuclearize after U.S. spy satellite material detected renewed activity at the North Korean factory that produced the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the United States.
The department left open the possibility that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could meet North Korean officials during meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc in Singapore this weekend.
“We will be in some of the same meetings as North Korean officials. I certainly can’t preclude any interaction taking place, but we have no meetings on the schedule,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters.
Pompeo has led talks with Pyongyang to denuclearize following a June summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Nauert said the United States was holding Kim to the commitment he made during the summit to denuclearize.
She declined to comment on the spy satellite images.
“What we are going on is the commitment that Chairman Kim made to our president, and that is the commitment to denuclearize. That is something that we certainly anticipate that he will hold up his end of the bargain,” Nauert said.
As Daniel Larison notes, the assertion that the North Koreans agreed to give up their nuclear weapons at the Singapore Summit is, at its base, a complete and total fabrication. Nothing in the communique that was agreed to by President Trump and Kim Jong Un at the conclusion supports that conclusion, and for the State Department to insist that it does is quite simply to ignore reality. It is true that the statement does speak about the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but this was little more than a general statement and it did not address the fact that the United States and North Korea have a very different idea of what “denuclearization” means. For the United States and its allies, of course, it means that the North Koreans will give up their nuclear weapons, their nuclear research program, and their ballistic missile research program in exchange for, well, pretty much nothing on the part of the United States and its allies. Indeed, in some versions of what the Administration appears to expect out of the DPRK, denuclearization would have to be a prerequisite to any discussions about a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War, the removal of allied forces from South Korea, or the lifting of sanctions. For the North Koreans, on the other hand,
When the North Koreans talk about “denuclearization,” though, they speak of the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” This means not only some action on the part of the North Koreans, but also the understanding that the United States would remove any nuclear weapons it may have in the region and that it would renounce the idea of providing South Korea and Japan with a “nuclear umbrella,” which is essentially the threat that any attack on an American ally. It is also fairly clear that the North Koreans also include in their definition of “denuclearization” the idea that the American military presence in South Korea, and potentially in Japan, which the DPRK has made clear it considers to be part of the nuclear threat posed by the United States.
In addition to these very different ideas about what “denuclearization” means, the actions we’ve seen from the North Koreans since the summit make it clear that what was agreed to, if anything, was far less than meets the eye. It was barely two weeks after Trump and Kim met when it was reported that North Korea was increasing production of the fuel needed to make additional nuclear weapons and that it was concealing the existence of ongoing nuclear weapons research at secret facilities well hidden from both surveillance and, most likely, the ability of the United States to take the sites out in a military strike. Additionally, it became apparent in the days after the summit that the much-publicized destruction of the DPRK’s primary nuclear weapons test site, an event it had invited American and other international journalists to witness, was much less than met the eye and that the site could easily be rebuilt if needed in the future. This week, we learned that the DPRK had also begun work on the construction of new ballistic missiles at yet another secret site. As we sit here nearly two months since the summit, then, it was obvious that the reality of what had been accomplished at the summit did not meet the rhetoric.
As Larison notes, these misrepresentations on the part of the Trump Administration are important to call out because, potentially, they could end up forming the basis of an effort on their part to justify taking further punitive action against the North:
It is important to understand this because the administration may try to accuse North Korea of cheating or backtracking later on, but North Korea didn’t make any promises to disarm. There is no agreement to be violated, and there is no commitment for North Korea to follow through on. No bargain was struck, and so there is nothing for North Korea to do to fulfill its end of a non-existent bargain. Clinging to the lie that Kim made a commitment to disarm is absurd, and it makes it impossible to trust anything that the administration says about this issue.
Of course, it’s generally impossible to trust anything this Admnistration says about anything, so why should North Korea be any different?