Kim Jong Un Reveals Timeline To Denuclearize. Wait, There’s More
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signaled he wanted to “achieve denuclearization” during U.S. President Donald Trump’s first term during meetings with South Korean officials but America’s top diplomat indicated more work may need to be done.
Kim told visiting South Korean envoys Wednesday he was ready to accept “stronger measures” to restrict his nuclear program and wanted a declaration with the U.S. to formally end the Korean War, the officials said. A separate account by North Korean state media said Kim told the delegation that he wanted progress on denuclearization, without mentioning the U.S. or Trump.
Speaking in New Delhi on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo was cautious, declining to comment on Kim’s remarks and adding that a lot of work remained.
“We haven’t had any nuclear tests, we haven’t had any missile tests, which we consider a good thing,” Pompeo said. “But the work of convincing Chairman Kim to make the strategic shift that we’ve talked about for a brighter future for the people of North Korea continues.”
Kim’s remarks about Trump’s term, if conveyed accurately, would represent his first commitment to something resembling a timetable for nuclear talks with the U.S. leader. But interpreting them required several caveats: Kim only said that he wanted to realize denuclearization before early 2021 — not commit to doing it — and he didn’t provide a clearer definition for the term, something that has emerged as a sticking point with the U.S.
“He wanted to end some 70 years of animosity between North Korea and the United States and achieve denuclearization within President Trump’s first term,” South Korean National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong, who led the one-day trip to Pyongyang, told reporters Thursday in Seoul. South Korean President Moon Jae-in also agreed to meet Kim in the North Korean capital on Sept. 18-20, the first such trip in 11 years.
Kim made clear he had “unwavering trust” in Trump, Chung said. “Kim especially emphasized that he has never said anything bad about Trump to anyone including his close aides,” Chung said.