North Korea sanctions remain until complete denuclearisation, says US

Geraldine Edwards
June 14, 2018

China won big at the summit after Trump made surprising pledges to suspend war games with South Korea and eventually pull US troops from there.

"The U.S. -South Korea joint exercises and U.S. forces in South Korea play significant roles for the security in East Asia", Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters Wednesday.

Illustrative: US Army M1-A2 tanks fire during US-South Korea joint military live-fire drills at Seungjin Fire Training Field in Pocheon, South Korea, near the border with North Korea, April 26, 2017.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walks with General Vincent K. Brooks, commander of United States Forces Korea, after arriving at Osan Air Base in South Korea Wednesday. But if United Nations nuclear watchdogs sought entry into an Iranian military site, suspecting illegal nuclear work was taking place there, they would have had to go through an worldwide dispute mechanism that would take a minimum of 24 days to process.

Now that's frankly ludicrous.

The formal document-signing, which also included an agreement to work to repatriate remains of prisoners of war and those missing in action from the Korean War, followed a series of meetings at a luxury Singapore resort. "Let me assure you that the "complete" encompasses verifiable in the minds of everyone concerned". "Nobody thought we were going to have an agreement like that".

Thirty-nine percent believe the summit has lowered the threat of nuclear war between the United States and nuclear-armed North Korea, slightly more than the 37 percent who said they did not believe it changed anything. Criticism that Tuesday's commitment does not include specifics on denuclearization and verification is too early, they argue.

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The presentation bemused those of us packed into the press hall - we thought at first it was North Korean propaganda.

The argument also allows Trump's political allies and supporters in conservative media to claim ahead of the midterm elections that the President has engineered a triumph overseas that was beyond all his predecessors and has made America and the world much safer. "I'm for the United States", Trump clarified.

Independent experts say the North could have enough fissile material for anywhere between about a dozen and 60 nuclear bombs. They walked outside together after the lunch, stopping briefly to look at the USA president's special limousine.

And Pompeo will have to assuage concerns in Japan, too.

Officials continue to reiterate that all exercises are defensive in nature, even as Trump called them "provocative" - a word out of the North Korean playbook. In agreeing to the summit, Trump risked granting Kim his long-sought recognition on the world stage in hopes of ending the North's nuclear program.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shake hands during an expanded bilateral meeting at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore, June 12, 2018.

The exact terms of that agreement remain unclear.

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In the poll, Trump received a 51 percent approval rating for his handling of North Korea and also led the list of leaders who should take the most credit for the summit and the joint pledge.

"Before taking office people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea", Trump tweeted.

At a news conference after the meeting, Mr Trump said he would lift sanctions against North Korea once "nukes are no longer a factor".

With tensions easing on the Korean peninsula, China's now considering relaxing economic sanctions on North Korea.

Abe spoke by phone with Trump after the one-day summit in Singapore that mostly centered on discussions of how to denuclearize North Korea. And it's striking because North Korea has insisted that it prefers a phased approach, which could really drag out for many more years.

Pompeo has to determine whether Kim left Singapore with a different understanding of what he agreed to, whether Pyongyang is looking to extract additional concessions from Washington through its public pronouncements, or whether it is simply trying to score a propaganda victory.

The top USA diplomat was set to arrive in Seoul later in the day.

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