President Donald Trump reportedly promised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he would sign a declaration ending the Korean War once and for all. He hasn’t, and now nuclear negotiations with North Korea are starting to fall apart.
At the June 12 Singapore summit, Trump told Kim that he would sign a peace declaration soon after the meeting’s conclusion, Vox reported Wednesday, citing two people familiar with discussions. Trump apparently made a similar agreement with the North Korean leader’s right-hand man Kim Yong Chol when he visited the White House prior to the summit.
The president canceled what would have been Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s fourth trip to Pyongyang last Friday due to a lack of progress on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The decision to cancel the trip followed the receipt of a letter from senior North Korean officials warning the US that talks are “again at stake and may fall apart.”
The letter added that North Korea may resume “nuclear and missile activities” if its demands are not met, according to CNN. Pyongyang is frustrated with the Trump administration’s failure to “to meet (North Korean) expectations in terms of taking a step forward to sign a peace treaty,” the media outlet reported, citing people familiar with the situation. This is not the first time in recent weeks North Korea has expressed dissatisfaction with the administration’s failure to act on a peace agreement while making unilateral demands for North Korean denuclearization.
The US side has stated that it expects “the final, fully verified denuclearization of (North Korea) as agreed to by Chairman Kim,” but apparently there is something North Korea expects from the US.
The Singapore declaration only mentions that the “United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.” After the summit, though, Trump revealed that there were things that were agreed upon that were not written into the statement.
“What we signed today was a lot of things included. And then you have things that weren’t included that we got after the deal was signed,” he explained. In the days leading up to the summit, the president hinted that he discussed a peace treaty with Kim Yong Chol when he visited the US.
“We talked about ending the war. And you know, this war has been going on — it’s got to be the longest war — almost 70 years, right? And there is a possibility of something like that. That’s more of a signing of a document that it’s very important in one way. Historically, it’s very important. But we’ll see,” he said, “And we did discuss that — the ending of the Korean War. Can you believe that we’re talking about the ending of the Korean War? You’re talking about 70 years.”
While Trump may have agreed to end the war, his advisers, particularly White House National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis both believe that North Korea should take steps to denuclearize before the US signs a peace agreement.
“It all makes sense now,” Ankit Panda, a foreign policy expert and senior editor for The Diplomat, tweeted Wednesday. “Without it being put in writing, Trump gave [Kim Jong Un] in Singapore (and possibly [Kim Yong Chol]) assurances that he’d do an [End-of-War] declaration; his advisors disagree. The bill has come due & admin split on paying up.”
“It makes sense why the North Koreans are angry,” a source told Vox. “Having Trump promise a peace declaration and then moving the goalposts and making it conditional would be seen as the US reneging on its commitments.”
The concern now is that if talks break down, will the situation return to the days of “fire and fury” that were seen last year?