Politics

Donald Trump lowers expectations for summit with Kim Jong Un in Vietnam as North Korea nuclear weapons program advances

Hanoi, Vietnam — President Trump was to board Air Force One on Monday and fly to Vietnam to meet for the second time with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Kim was expected to arrive on Monday after a two-day trip by train and car.

The talks will focus again on Kim’s nuclear arsenal, but the president and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seem to be sending mixed signals on how big a threat North Korea still really is.

CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reported that during their first summit in Singapore last year, the Trump administration said it expected North Korea to take immediate steps to get rid of its nuclear weapons. That hasn’t happened, and just days before the second summit begins in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, the president seemed to be lowering expectations.

“We have a special feeling…I think it’s gonna lead to something good. But maybe not,” Mr. Trump told a gathering of U.S. governors on Sunday night. The president said he was no longer pushing North Korea to quickly give up its nuclear weapons.

“I’m not in a rush. I don’t want to rush anybody. I just don’t want testing,” Mr. Trump said. “As long as there’s no testing, we’re happy.”

North Korea has not tested a missile or nuclear device for more than 400 days — a self-imposed pause which began long before the June 2018 Singapore summit. Kim claims he has already completed his nuclear program and no longer needs the tests, but there is ample evidence that the regime is still producing nuclear fuel, working on its weapons programs, and evading international sanctions.

North Korea has taken no clear steps towards denuclearization President Trump’s tweet after last year’s summit that, “there’s no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo contradicted that claim on Sunday.

Asked on CNN whether he believes the Kim regime still poses a nuclear threat to the world, Pompeo said, “yes.”

He insisted that President Trump had never said North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat: “What he said is that the efforts that have been made in Singapore, this commitment that Chairman Kim made, have substantially taken down the risk to the American people.”

Pompeo also said the process may take some time, and require more summits.

The first Trump – Kim summit produced a vaguely worded document about working towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Administration officials say a main goal of the summit this week is to define what that term actually means.

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.




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