Posts Tagged ‘nuclear program’

South Korea’s Moon urges North, United States to move forward on ending nuclear program

July 13, 2018

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday urged North Korea and the United States to move forward on a pact to end Pyongyang’s nuclear program, as a lack of firm steps by the North raised questions about its commitment to its pledge.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a joint press conference with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (not pictured) after holding summit talks at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, on July 10, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

“If Chairman Kim (Jong Un) keeps the promise of denuclearization, he will be able to lead his country into prosperity,” Moon said in a speech during a visit to Singapore.

“This path is never easy, but if the agreements at the summit are implemented with sincerity, the goal can be achieved,” he added, referring to Kim’s historic meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the city state a month ago.

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South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in reviews a Singapore Guard of Honor, July 12, 2018.

“If North Korea gives more substance on the implementation of denuclearization, and if South Korea and the United States quickly take comprehensive corresponding measures, the whole process will accelerate.”

At the summit, the two leaders pledged to work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and ease tension between their countries, still technically at war, since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Since the June 12 meeting, however, Pyongyang has yet to show any sign of concrete action to dismantle its nuclear program that has brought a series of U.N. and international sanctions against the impoverished state.

But Trump on Thursday hailed “great progress” after disclosing a July 6 note from Kim in which the North’s leader said their efforts could open up a “new future” for the two countries.

Moon said he believed Trump and Kim would eventually make good on the promise made before the international community.

“If the leaders do not honor the promise they themselves made with the international community watching, they will be subject to grave judgment,” he said.

South Korea is willing to build an economic community with its neighbor once the effort to root out Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions is completed, Moon said.

Reporting by Jack Kim; Writing by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Reuters

See also:

Singapore can help with efforts to denuclearise Korea: South Korean President Moon Jae-in

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/singapore-can-help-with-efforts-to-denuclearise-korea-south-korean-president-moon-jae

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US-North Korea talks are faltering. Trump is blaming China

July 10, 2018

Trump thinks Beijing could be riled up over the US-Chinese trade war.

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration is having trouble navigating talks with North Korea — and the president is suggesting that China might be to blame.

On Monday, President Donald Trump attempted to minimize the wide gulf between the US and North Korea during their high-level negotiations last week. And he floated the theory that any problems might be due to Beijing’s meddling.

“I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake,” Trump tweeted, referring to the denuclearization agreement that the US and North Korea signed during the Singapore summit earlier in June. “China, on the other hand, may be exerting negative pressure on a deal because of our posture on Chinese Trade-Hope Not!” he added.

Trump’s somewhat optimistic tweet comes after the US and North Korean officials had very different takeaways from talks last week.

At the end of two days of meetings in Pyongyang, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday that discussions had been “productive.” But North Korea offered up a different take: An unnamed spokesperson for North Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the country found the US delegation’s attitude to be “regrettable,” and its demands to be “gangster-like.”

However, Pompeo insisted on Sunday that talks had, in fact, been fruitful, and dismissed North Korea’s harsh language. “If those requests were gangster-like, the world is a gangster,” he said.

China could actually be empowering North Korea

The apparent disconnect between North Korean and US officials is a big deal — it means there could be some serious gaps in communication about issues like lifting US sanctions and exactly how North Korea will go about dismantling its nuclear program.

But it’s definitely possible that China could be encouraging North Korea to be a bit more aggressive.

Formally speaking, China supports North Korea dismantling its nuclear program, but it also fears that such a development would strengthen US power in the region. North Korea currently serves as a strategic buffer between China and South Korea, which is democratic, and hosts tens of thousands of US troops. Without nukes, North Korea would not be as powerful of a buffer.

Pompeo has said that he believes China has relaxed sanctions against North Korea in recent weeks. That, too, could give North Korea license to act more boldly. If Beijing is signaling that it’s willing to help North Korea survive in defiance of UN sanctions, which are crippling to North Korea’s economy, Pyongyang may feel it has more leverage in negotiations. China is North Korea’s economic lifeline to the world — North Korea relies on China for about 90 percent of its foreign trade.

And as Trump has suggested, it is possible that Beijing feels particularly inspired to interfere with the US’s strategic objectives in light of the burgeoning trade war between the US and China. Last week, both countries imposed tariffs on $34 billion worth of goods from the other country, and there may be more to come.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) shares Trump’s analysis and has also argued that China could be using the trade clash as a pretext for interfering with US-North Korean talks.

“I see China’s hands all over this. We’re in a fight with China,” Graham told Fox News Sunday. “If I were President Trump, I would not let China use North Korea to back me off of the trade dispute. We’ve got more bullets than they do when it comes to trade.”

https://www.vox.com/world/2018/7/9/17549386/trump-north-korea-china-trade-war

Destroying Iran deal would have unforeseeable consequences, China’s Li Keqiang warns

July 9, 2018

China’s Premier Li Keqiang warned on Monday of unforseeable consequences if a nuclear non-proliferation deal with Iran were torn up, adding that the nuclear deal should be upheld.

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Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang gestures as he holds a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not pictured) at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

He was speaking at a news conference alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. Merkel also expressed her support for the deal, which has been rejected by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Reuters

Pompeo in North Korea for talks on nuclear sites

July 6, 2018

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in North Korea on Friday, hoping to “fill in” details on the North’s plans to dismantle its nuclear program and also to secure the remains of U.S. troops missing from the Korean War.

Image result for Kim Yong Chol, pompeo, july 2018, photos
Kim Yong Chol, former North Korean military intelligence chief and one of Kim Jong Un’s closest aides, left, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pose for a picture before a meeting, Thursday, May 31, 2018, in New York.

Pompeo landed in Pyongyang and met Kim Yong Chol, a senior North Korean official who played a central role with Pompeo in arranging last month’s summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, according to a pool report by reporters traveling with him.

Pompeo will spend a day and a half in North Korea, until Saturday, his first overnight stay there.

At the Singapore summit, Kim made a broad commitment to “work toward denuclearisation”, but fell short of details on how or when he would dismantle North Korea’s nuclear programs.

“The President told me he believes that Chairman Kim sees a different, brighter future for the people of North Korea. We both hope that’s true,” Pompeo said on Twitter after a phone call with Trump in the air.

“Next stop: Pyongyang. I look forward to continuing my meetings with North Korean leaders. There’s much hard work ahead but peace is worth the effort.”

Pompeo said he was seeking to “fill in” some details on North Korea’s commitments and maintain the momentum toward implementation of the agreement from the summit, according to the pool report.

Pompeo would try to agree on at least an initial list of nuclear sites and an inventory that could be checked against the available intelligence, U.S. intelligence officials told Reuters.

Also high on the agenda is the issue of remains, in North Korea, of U.S. soldiers missing from the 1950-53 war. Trump said after the Singapore summit that Kim had agreed to send remains back to the United States.

Both issues are considered essential tests of whether Kim is serious about negotiations. North Korean officials have yet to demonstrate that in working-level talks, the intelligence officials said.

“If they’re serious, then we can get down to the business of defining the terms of final denuclearization,” said one official.

But the U.S. ability to verify the accuracy of any North Korean list is limited due to the lack of a “high confidence” accounting of the North’s nuclear arsenal, such as the number of warheads and uranium enrichment facilities, especially if they are not operational, they said.

While in the past, the Pentagon has said North Korean officials have indicated they had the remains of as many as 200 U.S. troops, a U.S. military official familiar with the procedures for handling remains said it was not clear what North Korea might hand over.

“Until we do the necessary DNA testing to verify whose remains they are, and things like whether they’ve put remains of the same soldier into more than one box or tried to fool us with pieces of animal bones, we won’t know for sure what they’ve given us back,” the official said.

CHANGING LANGUAGE?

However, some officials in the State and Defence Departments and in U.S. intelligence agencies are worried that by overstating the results of the Singapore summit, Trump has put himself at a disadvantage if negotiations do begin.

Ahead of the Singapore summit, Pompeo said Trump would reject anything short of “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation”.

But following talks on Sunday between U.S. envoy Sung Kimand North Korean counterparts, this “CVID” language appears to have disappeared from the State Department lexicon.

It says pressure will remain until North Korea denuclearizes, but in statements this week, it redefined the U.S. goal as “the final, fully verified denuclearisation” of the country.

Some U.S. officials and experts have said the change in language amounted to a softening in the U.S. approach.

The State Department denied the view, saying its policy remains unchanged.

After his departure from Washington on Thursday, Pompeo tweeted: “Looking forward to continuing our work toward the final, fully verified denuclearization of #DPRK, as agreed to by Chairman Kim. Good to have press along for the trip.”

“The president has made it hard to walk away from the talks even in the North is just stalling and prevaricating again,” said another U.S. official familiar with the talks, pointing to Trump’s tweets that North Korea no longer poses nuclear threats.

“Kim may be betting – maybe gambling – that just as he agreed to meet after threatening fire and fury, the president may back down again and let Pyongyang set the agenda and the timetable,” the official said.

Pompeo’s talk will be closely watched in the region. He is due to meet officials from allies South Korea and Japan in Tokyo on Sunday.

A spokesman for South Korea’s presidential office would only say South Korea and the United States were working to formulate “constructive measures” on North Korea’s denuclearization.

Trump Wants Kim to Commit to Disarmament Timetable in Singapore

June 6, 2018
Mar-a-Lago summit possible if talks go well between leaders — White House hasn’t described schedule beyond first meeting
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The White House wants North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to commit to a timetable to surrender his country’s nuclear arsenal when he meets President Donald Trump next week in Singapore, a high-stakes summit that could last as long as two days — or just minutes.

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Trump has been advised not to offer Kim any concessions, as the White House seeks to put the onus on the North Koreans to make the summit a success, one U.S. official said. The president is determined to walk out of the meeting if it doesn’t go well, two officials said. Alternatively, Trump is toying with the idea of offering Kim a follow-up summit at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida — perhaps in the fall — if the two men hit it off.

Other than announcing that the two leaders will first meet at 9 a.m. Singapore time June 12 at the Capella Hotel on Singapore’s Sentosa Island, the White House has described no schedule for the summit. If the first meeting goes well, there will be further events that day and perhaps even on June 13.

The Capella Hotel stands on the island of Sentosa in Singapore.

Photographer: Nicky Loh/Bloomberg

Trump will be joined in Singapore by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, his Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser John Bolton. The U.S. delegation also tentatively includes the CIA’s top Korea expert, Andrew Kim; the National Security Council’s point person on Korea, Allison Hooker; and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin, who has negotiated much of the groundwork for the summit with the North Koreans.

How Kim Jong Un and Trump Differ on Denuclearization: QuickTake

Notably absent from Trump’s delegation: Vice President Mike Pence, who will remain in the U.S., and Defense Secretary James Mattis. Mattis said on Sunday at a defense conference in Singapore that North Korea will win relief from crippling U.S. economic sanctions “only when it demonstrates verifiable and irreversible steps to denuclearization.”

Trump’s Preparations

North Korea has publicly bristled at U.S. officials’ insistence that it must agree to disarm before receiving anything in return, instead calling for a step-by-step approach to ridding the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons. Trump has indicated flexibility in his approach, although it’s still unclear what a path to denuclearization would look like.

Mike Pompeo and Kim Jong Un.

Photographer: The White House via Getty Images

Pompeo, who has traveled to Pyongyang twice since March, has prepared Trump for the summit in about eight-to-ten hours of briefings per week for several weeks, two U.S. officials said. The CIA’s Kim has helped with the Trump briefings. On Tuesday, former senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar briefed Trump and Pence on their lessons learned co-sponsoring a law aimed at securing and dismantling nuclear weapons after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Typically, the president’s preparations for meetings with foreign leaders are shaped by several administration officials and result in a pair of briefing books, one person familiar with the process said. One, on customs and protocol, primarily is assembled by the State Department and shared with much of the U.S. delegation. The other is a more exclusive document for the president that includes a biography of the foreign leader assembled by the U.S. intelligence community. It also sometimes includes memos from individual Cabinet members with their private assessments of the leader.

U.S. vs North Korea: A Fraught History in Pictures

Trump’s aides consider him ready for a summit in which the White House believes he holds an advantage — while 12 hours ahead of Washington, Singapore is a Westernized metropolis and will be the farthest Kim Jong Un has traveled since taking charge of his country in 2011.

Kim’s Worries

U.S. officials believe Kim is extremely worried about security at the summit and is fearful of assassination attempts, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Frustrated after the North Koreans cut off communications for about five days last month and snubbed Hagin at a preparatory meeting in Singapore, Trump canceled the summit on May 24. Talks resumed, however, and Kim dispatched an envoy — his spy chief Kim Yong Chol — to Washington on Friday to deliver a letter to Trump.

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The letter, handwritten by Kim Jong Un in Korean, expressed the dictator’s desire for the summit. Trump said later that day that the Singapore meeting was back on. Kim Yong Chol also brought Trump a gift, and Trump reciprocated with a gift for Kim Jong Un. White House officials declined to describe either present.

— With assistance by Keith Zhai, and Nick Wadhams

Bloomberg

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-06/trump-wants-kim-to-commit-to-disarmament-timetable-in-singapore

North Korean negotiation tactics reflect new era — “Kim Jong Un could make a historic deal.”

June 4, 2018

With nuclear capabilities established, Kim Jong Un has more space for diplomacy and bargaining

Pyongyang’s outreach indicates a “strong desire to become a normal country”.

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North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un has taken a different diplomatic approach than his predecessors © AFP

Bryan Harris in Seoul

The legacy of US negotiations with North Korea is so fraught that it has etched an enduring scepticism onto most assessments of Pyongyang’s desires and intentions.

But for those who have dealt directly with the regime, its latest diplomatic efforts with the US and South Korea represent something new: an evolution in negotiating tactics and overtures, which they say demonstrates a fundamental difference between North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and his predecessors.

With the country’s nuclear expertise permanently established, the 34-year-old dictator has more space for diplomacy and bargaining as he charts the next phase of his regime’s survival, according to former negotiators and officials.

The question of motive is a crucial one as the world gears up for what is set to be a historic summit next week between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore.

Mr Trump hopes to strike a deal leading to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula — a prospect that North Korea at least in principle claims to support.

Major questions remain, however, over what denuclearisation entails, how far verification would go and what Pyongyang wants in return for abandoning its atomic weapons.

“Kim Jong Un could make a historic deal,” said Chun Yung-woo, a former South Korea negotiator with North Korea.

“He is playing a lifetime game. What he needs now is to make concessions to achieve his goal of economic development. And it would be so easy to rebuild his nuclear arsenal later even if he chooses to abandon it now,” said Mr Chun, who headed the South Korean delegation to six-party talks between 2006 and 2008.

Pompeo: North Korea talks ‘moving in right direction’

Negotiations with North Korea have historically tended to follow a tumultuous pattern. The regime would initially ratchet up tensions to coax the US and South Korea to the negotiating table, before then dragging out talks with demands for economic compensation at every stage.

“Their playbook is raising tensions when they see fit, then conducting engagement when it serves their purposes,” said Mintaro Oba, a former US diplomat. “It always puts the US in the position of dealing with them on their terms or being seen to be acting in bad faith.”

But a series of recent moves by the regime has raised hopes among some analysts that Mr Kim has a fundamentally different objective to his father and grandfather, both of whom ruled the reclusive nation before him.

Last week, Kim Yong Chol, the country’s No. 2 official, met Mr Trump in Washington for a visit that analysts said was aimed at building trust between the two sides. Mr Kim was the highest ranking North Korean to visit the White House in almost two decades.

Days later, in an apparent attempt to tame its powerful army, Pyongyang reshuffled its top military brass, bringing in a more moderate defence minister.

For many analysts, however, a key signal that Kim Jong Un was adamant about pursuing a diplomatic track was North Korea’s message of conciliation after Mr Trump initially cancelled the Singapore meeting.

For close watchers of the reclusive regime, this missive was a dramatic departure that was “not consistent with the typical North Korean way of dealing with the US”.

“Kim Jong Un realised the consequences of irking the US and decided to back down. He did not lose sight of his big goal,” said Mr Chun.

Analysts remain divided about whether Mr Kim is using the Singapore summit as a diplomatic feint, a ploy for sanctions relief or a genuine attempt to re-engage the international community after years of isolation.

Kim Jong-bong, former head of the North Korea division of South Korea’s national intelligence service, said the current diplomatic situation was different from previous years due to the North’s completion of its nuclear programme.

“[Kim and Trump] might be able to come to the some sort of big framework agreement with the a vague definition of denuclearisation. But the problem will be with implementation,” he said.

“Kim Jong Un seems to have confidence in his ability to reproduce nuclear weapons [even if he chooses to give them up now],” he added.

Unlike the “military first” leadership of his father Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un has pursued a dual-track ideology of economic growth and nuclear weapons development known as the Byungjin Line.

The result has been tentative reforms that are slowly giving rise to the marketisation of the formerly Stalinist economy.

Following Pyongyang’s announcement last year that it had completed its “state nuclear force”, some experts now believe Mr Kim wishes to focus on economic development.

Lee Jong-seok, an adviser to South Korean president Moon Jae-in, said North Korea’s recent diplomatic overtures to the US were “unthinkable” in the past and were being driven by Pyongyang’s “strong desire to become a normal country”.

Additional reporting by Kang Buseong

https://www.ft.com/content/17a4b136-6549-11e8-90c2-9563a0613e56

International Recation To Netanyahu’s “Iran Lied” on Nuclear Program

May 1, 2018

It is clear that the international community had doubts that Iran was carrying out an exclusively peaceful nuclear program,” Steffen Seibert, the spokesman of the German government, told journalists, commenting on the Israeli prime minister’s speech. “It was for this reason the nuclear accord was signed in 2015, including the implementation of an unprecedented, thorough and robust surveillance system by the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

Germany’s position was partly echoed by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, who also said in a statement that “the deal was put in place exactly because there was no trust between the parties, otherwise we would not have required a nuclear deal to be put in place.” She further noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is responsible for verifying Iran’s compliance with the deal.

Mogherini also said that the IAEA, which is “the only impartial, international organization that is in charge of monitoring Iran’s nuclear commitments,” has previously published 10 reports certifying that Iran has fully complied with its commitments. She then added that one has to wait for the IAEA assessment of Tel Aviv’s claims before making any conclusions on the matter.

European External Action Service – EEAS 🇪🇺

@eu_eeas

“IAEA is the only impartial international organisation in charge of monitoring Iran’s nuclear commitments. If any country has information of non-compliance of any kind should address this information to the proper legitimate and recognised mechanism” @FedericaMog

At the same time, the EU foreign policy chief noted that she found no evidence of Iran’s non-compliance with the deal in Netanyahu’s arguments so far. A similar assessment of the Israeli prime minister’s presentation was given by Eran Etzion, the former Israeli deputy national security adviser, who now heads the Israeli-European think tank called the Forum of Strategic Dialogue. “No ‘smoking gun’ was revealed this evening, nor was it proven that Iran is today developing nuclear weaponry or violating the [nuclear deal] in any other way,” he said in a Twitter post.

The UK, in its turn, stated that it had “never been naive about Iran and its nuclear intentions,” but emphasized that the existing framework “remains a vitally important way of independently verifying that Iran is adhering to the deal and that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.”

“That is why the IAEA inspection regime agreed as part of the Iran nuclear deal is one of the most extensive and robust in the history of international nuclear accords,” a British government spokesman said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the French ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud, went as far as to say that the claims made by Netanyahu were actually a “very convincing argument” in favor of keeping the deal and not scrapping it. “In an arms control agreement, you always foresee that the other side will try to cheat. The monitoring mechanism is to make it difficult or ideally impossible,” he said in a series of tweets on the issue, adding that “the quite extensive monitoring system of the Iran deal is precisely to check facts.”

Gérard Araud

@GerardAraud

All the agreement is based on the assumption that they may lie! That’s the reason of the monitoring mechanism. Cheaters are a risk you take into account in any negotiation. https://twitter.com/doranimated/status/991064565076111360 

Earlier, the Israeli prime minister’s office said in a statement that Netanyahu discussed the issue with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin later confirmed this fact, adding that the Russian leader still maintained that the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA), is still of “paramount importance for the international peace and security” and should be “strictly observed” by all parties.

US President Donald Trump, who was apparently a major addressee of Netanyahu’s speech, gave a much more vague response to the Israeli prime minister’s claims. “That is just not an acceptable situation,” he said, referring to the Netanyahu’s claims about Iran’s alleged aspirations to create a nuclear weapon. He also accused Tehran of “not sitting back idly” and said that “what we’ve learned has really shown that I have been 100 percent right.”

At the same time, he stopped short of saying whether he intends to abandon the deal. “So we’ll see what happens,” he said, referring to his plans. “I’m not telling you what I’m doing. [A lot] of people think they know. And on or before the 12th, we’ll make a decision,” the US president added.

In his Monday speech accompanied by a presentation involving a video and big-screen slides, Netanyahu claimed that Iran lied about its nuclear program and was actually trying to create a nuclear bomb. After the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran “continued to preserve and expand its nuclear weapons knowledge” for future use, he added, citing intelligence allegedly obtained by the Israeli security services.

The Israeli prime minister’s statements come as Trump is expected to take a decision on whether to renew a waiver on sanctions against Iran. If he does not do it, that would effectively mean the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement. The deadline for this decision expires on May 12.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif already slammed Netanyahu’s presentation, as he called it a “coordinated timing of alleged intelligence revelations by the boy who cries wolf” just before the deadline date.

https://www.rt.com/news/425548-netanyahu-iran-world-reaction/

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un has a plan and it’s coming to pass — Leaders of Iraq and Libya didn’t last long after giving up nuclear weapons

April 30, 2018

Updated 

Kim Jong-un (left) and Moon Jae-in walk together at the border village of Panmunjom.

For many, last Friday was the first time they heard the voice of the Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.

It was — to some — a surprisingly steady voice, far from the cartoonish image of North Korean leaders fixed in our minds from too many Hollywood films and ill-informed media commentary.

It took me back to April 2012, the birth anniversary of North Korea’s founding father and eternal President, Kim Il-sung.

Kim Jong-un’s six year plan

Kim Jong-un was then in his late 20s and new to the leadership. He marked his grandfather’s birthday with his first speech to the North Korean people.

Reporting for CNN, I watched the young leader stride on stage in a stadium filled with tens of thousands of soldiers.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

Here is what I wrote at the time:

“The adoring crowd who have been chanting his name falls silent. Kim Jong-un, not yet 30 years old, appears slightly nervous. His voice doesn’t waver but his body moves back and forth restlessly and his eyes dart around. If his nerves betray him slightly, his words stay strong.

“He stands atop the shoulders of the men who have gone before him, his grandfather and father. Directly below him hang the huge portraits of the man North Koreans call the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung, and his son the so-called Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il.”

In hindsight, that speech was a road map to drag the nation into the 21st century, to make it strong and prosperous.

He laid out a commitment to build his nation’s military, reunite the Korean Peninsula, bring peace and reform North Korea’s economy.

It is clear to me now that this man had a plan and so much of what he spoke of has come to pass.

Reunification a key step

“We have suffered the pain of separation for nearly 70 years,” Kim Jong-un declared in his 2012 speech.

“We have lived as one people on the same land for thousands of years. To suffer like this is heartbreaking.

“Our party and our government will work with anyone who truly wants reunification,” he said.

It is impossible to overstate the pain of separation felt by the Korean people.

These are families torn apart by war, who haven’t seen each-other for more than half a century.

So many have died with the dream of reunification unfulfilled.

Mr. Kim and Mr. Moon at the line that divides the two Koreas. CreditPool photo

It is no surprise that the communique released after the meeting of the North and South Korean leaders last Friday sets out peace and reunification as the first goal: “South and North Korea will reconnect the blood relations of the people”.

It stresses that they will “determine the destiny of the Korean nation on their own accord”.

Peace plan, military action

But back in 2012, Kim Jong-un was under no illusions that he was leading a nation at war.

As he told his assembled troops:

“Our military has become a powerful military able to handle any kind of modern warfare, with complete offensive and defensive capabilities.

“The foreign powers are not the only ones with monopoly on military supremacy, and the days of their threatening and lying to us with atomic weapons is forever gone.”

What has he done since? Mr Kim has accelerated his nuclear program.

US intelligence estimates put his nuclear arsenal at as many as 60 bombs.

He has also fast-tracked his missile program, testing long-range delivery systems that could strike as far away as the western coast of the United States.

North Korea is at its most powerful position in its history.

Mr Kim has learnt the lessons of the past: he has watched as other regimes and other leaders — Iraq, Libya — with no nuclear capacity, have fallen.

He has vowed that will not happen to him: regime survival is paramount.

Image result for Kim Jong un and Moon plant a tree, photos

Feeding North Korea

In 2012, Kim Jong-un presided over a nation that could not feed itself.

He knew the clock was ticking, his power could collapse if he could not build his economy.

Mr Kim made a pledge for his people to suffer no more and came as close as he could to admitting the regime had failed the people in the past:

“Our fellow citizens, who are the best citizens in the world, who have overcome countless struggles and hardships, it is our party’s firmest resolve not to let our citizens go hungry again,” he said.

Military might, reunification, economy: this has been Mr Kim’s strategy, he has pursued his plan from that day to now.

Can we trust Kim Jong-un?

The man who spoke to the world last Friday, is slightly older and no doubt wiser but his aim is the same.

He is shrewd and calculating, he is clever and too easily underestimated.

He is also brutal: he jails his opponents, crushes dissent, silences freedom of speech — countless people languish in unimaginably cruel gulags — and has allegedly had his uncle and half-brother assassinated.

This is the man Donald Trump will sit down with. There are many good reasons to tread warily; North Korea has played this game before.

But this is a different leader, in a different era: he sees himself as a man of history.

He has styled himself on his grandfather; same hair, same mannerisms.

Kim Il-sung is still hailed as a hero; the man who built the nation.

In 2012 Kim Jong-un told us he wanted to be the man to finish his grandfather’s work.

Matter of Fact with Stan Grant is on the ABC News Channel at 9pm, Monday to Thursday.

Topics: government-and-politicshistoryunrest-conflict-and-warworld-politicskorea-democratic-peoples-republic-of

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-30/kim-jong-uns-border-crossing-all-part-of-the-plan/9710016

Trump administration has its ‘eyes wide open’ on whether to trust North Korea: Secretary of State Pompeo

April 29, 2018

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration has its “eyes wide open” on whether to trust North Korea in any negotiations to end the country’s nuclear program.

ABC News Includes video:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/kim-jong-prepared-us-achieve-denuclearization-secretary-state/story?id=54804400

Pompeo was responding to a question from ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl on “This Week” Sunday in an exclusive first interview of the new secretary of state.

“Can you really trust anything that comes out of a meeting with Kim Jong Un?” Karl asked.

Pompeo responded, “This administration has its eyes wide open. We know the history. We know the risks. … We’re going to negotiate in a different way than has been done before.”

“We’re not going to make promises,” added Pompeo, who was sworn in as the top U.S. diplomat on Thursday. “We’re not going to take words. We’re going to look for actions and deeds.”

Pompeo met with Kim over Easter weekend to lay the groundwork for President Donald Trump’s planned summit with the North Korean leader, to be held in May or early June.

Asked by Karl on Sunday whether he believes Kim is ready to give up “the pride of that country right now — their nuclear program,” Pompeo said the North Korean leader “has a decision to make.”

“Kim Jong Un is going to have to make a decision,” Pompeo said. “Does he want the pressure campaign [against his country] to continue? … Or is he looking for something big and bold and different, something that hasn’t happened before?”

“I don’t know which way it will go,” the secretary of state continued. “As the president has said, only time will tell. But we have … an obligation to engage in diplomatic discourse to try and find a peaceful solution so that Americans aren’t held at risk by Kim Jong Un and his nuclear arsenal.”

PHOTO: CIA director Mike Pompeo shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in this undated image in Pyongyang, North Korea. The White House via Getty Images
CIA director Mike Pompeo shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in this undated image in Pyongyang, North Korea.

The Trump administration wants “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization” with North Korea, Pompeo said.

The secretary of state — who is now on a diplomatic trip to the Middle East with stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Jordan — said that in his recent visit to Pyongyang he and Kim had a “good conversation” and that Kim is “prepared to… lay out a map that will help us achieve that objective.”

“He was very well prepared. I hope I matched that. We had an extensive conversation on the hardest issues that face our two countries,” Pompeo said. “I had a clear mission statement from President Trump. When I left, Kim Jong Un understood the mission exactly as I described it today.”

Asked what he learned about Kim in the meeting, Pompeo said, “Anytime you get the chance to meet face to face with someone, you get a better read about what they’re thinking, whether they’re really prepared to do something that is historic and different … My goal was to try and identify if there was a real opportunity there. I believe there is.”

President Trump said in an interview with Fox News on Thursday, “He wasn’t supposed to meet with Kim Jong Un, but he did.”

PHOTO: CIA Director Mike Pompeo testifies on worldwide threats during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in this Feb. 13, 2018 file photo.Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
CIA Director Mike Pompeo testifies on worldwide threats during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in this Feb. 13, 2018 file photo.more +

Asked by Karl on “This Week” how the meeting with the North Korean leader came about, Pompeo said, “I was there on a mission. I was aiming to achieve the goals that the president set forward to me. It became clear that I was going to get the chance to meet with Kim Jong Un to discuss some of the details. But most importantly, to take a read on whether there was an opportunity here for our two countries to achieve this.”

“If diplomacy fails on this, is there a military option?” Karl asked.

“The president has been very clear, Jonathan. We’re not going to allow Kim Jong Un to continue to threaten America,” Pompeo said.

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http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/kim-jong-prepared-us-achieve-denuclearization-secretary-state/story?id=54804400

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See also:

Jon Karl to Mike Pompeo: “How Can You Build A Relationship With Someone Who Is Seen As A Madman?”

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/04/29/jon_karl_to_mike_pompeo_how_can_you_build_a_relationship_with_someone_who_is_seen_as_a_madman.html

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on negotiations with North Korea: “This administration has its eyes wide open. We know the history. We know the risks. We’re going to be very different. We’re going to negotiate in a different way than has been done before. We’re going to require those steps – we use the word irreversible with great intention. We’re going to require those steps that demonstrate that denuclearization is going to be achieved. We’re not going to make promises. We’re not going to take words. We’re going to look for actions and deeds.”

KARL: So, that was obviously before John Bolton became national security adviser. He is now working on this meeting but given all of the broken promises on the nuclear issue that we have seen under President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, three different North Korean leaders now. Can you really trust anything that comes out of a meeting with Kim Jong-un?

POMPEO: Jonathan, this – this administration has its eyes wide open. We know the history. We know the risks. We’re going to be very different. We’re going to negotiate in a different way than has been done before. We’re going to require those steps – we use the word irreversible with great intention. We’re going to require those steps that demonstrate that denuclearization is going to be achieved. We’re not going to make promises. We’re not going to take words. We’re going to look for actions and deeds. And until such time, the president has made it incredibly clear we will keep the pressure campaign in place until we achieve that. That’s different and so in each case both countries will have to do more than words, will have to actually deliver an outcome that is the one that Kim Jong Un and I had the chance to talk about at the direction of the president.

KARL: So, you looked into his eyes, you spent an hour with him and you said it was a good conversation. The president said it was a good relationship that was developed. The president also called him a madman. The president is not alone in calling Kim Jong Un a madman. How do you build a relationship with somebody who is seen as a madman?

POMPEO: You know, I’m not one to do much about naval gazing or eye staring. I’m looking for actions. And that’s what President Trump is asking for to. We have built a coalition — a diplomatic coalition has come together to put pressure on Kim Jong Un. President Trump and that pressure campaign are the reasons Kim Jong Un want this meeting. It’s the objective of our administration to achieve the outcome. That – that’s what we’ll be looking for between the president and Kim Jong Un.

KARL: Did you really think he had a change of heart on this? I mean if you look at Kim Jong Un this is somebody who assassinated his uncle right after coming into power, poisoned his half-brother. Did more to advance North Korea’s nuclear facilities, its missile capabilities. And his father did more to advance the military than his grandfather. Do you really think that he had a change of heart on this issue? And that he is ready to give up the pride of that country right now: their nuclear program?

POMPEO: Kim Jong Un’s going to have to make a decision. He’s going to have to make a big decision. Does he want the pressure campaign to continue? Does he want President Trump to continue to place him in the location that he finds himself today? Or is he looking for something big and bold and different, something that hasn’t happened before? I don’t know which way it will go. As the president has said, only time will tell. But we have a mission set – we have an obligation to engage in diplomatic discourse to try and find a peaceful solution so that Americans aren’t held at risk by Kim Jong Un and his nuclear arsenal. That’s the mission. That’s the goal. Only time will tell if we’re going to be able to achieve it.

KARL: And you have been clear this is completely irreversible dismantlement of their nuclear programs. Get rid of the nukes, get rid of the capabilities. Is he going to get anything in return before he does that? Is there any lifting, any easing of sanctions, any reward given before the total irreversible dismantling of that nuclear program?

POMPEO: Jonathan, the administration’s been very clear. We’ll see how the negotiations proceed, but we’re going to do it in a fundamentally different way than the previous efforts to persuade the North Koreans to get rid of their nuclear weapons program.

Iran president: we don’t intend any aggression — “We want friendly and brotherly relations with our neighbors”

April 18, 2018

Image may contain: 1 person, hat and beard

TEHRAN: President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that Iran “does not intend any aggression” against its neighbors but will continue to produce all the weapons it needs for its defense.

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“We tell the world that we will produce any weapons that we need, or if necessary we will procure them. We have not been waiting… and will not wait for your remarks or agreement,” said Rouhani at a military parade in Tehran to mark the annual Army Day.

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“But at the same time we announce to our neighboring countries in the region… we do not intend any aggression against you.”

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The United States and its allies have been demanding that Iran curb its ballistic missile program, but Tehran sees this as crucial to its defensive posture.

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US President Donald Trump has threatened to tear up the 2015 nuclear deal that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs to its atomic program unless new restrictions are imposed on its missile program and other areas by May 12.

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“We want friendly and brotherly relations with our neighbors and we tell them that our weapons, our equipment, our missiles, our planes, our tanks are not against you, it is for deterrence,” said Rouhani.

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“The only way to resolve problems is political negotiation and peaceful behavior,” he added.

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Regional rival Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of seeking to dominate the Middle East through the expansion of proxy forces in countries like Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

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Iran argues these forces operate with the permission of allied governments to fight jihadist groups and prevent the disintegration of states.

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Rouhani did not appear to reference Israel, which Iran considers an “illegitimate regime” and whose dissolution is a top priority for the country’s Islamic rulers.

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Israel has expressed concern over the growing presence of Iranian forces along its borders and has recently launched air strikes against Iranian positions in Syria.

Reuters

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1286856/middle-east