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What happened to the US-North Korea talks?




We had such great hopes for an end to the mutual threats of nuclear destruction by the United States and North Korea, after their leaders appeared to be making big progress in their peace talks. They seemed ready to sign an agreement in a summit meeting they held in Hanoi, Vietnam, last January 8, 2019. But US President Donald Trump unexpectedly left it, saying he could not accept Kim’s demand to lift all economic sanctions before committing to a specific denuclearization plan.

Now it looks like it’s back to square one. After hearing nothing substantial from Trump for months, North Korea has resumed its testing of missiles at a satellite launch site it had promised to close down.

Trump responded last Sunday with a statement on Tweeter that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un risks losing “everything” if he resumes hostility. He reminded the North Korean leader that he had signed “a strong denuclearization agreement” when they met in their first summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018. It was actually a joint statement that the two leaders signed calling for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

Nothing came out of that first meeting in Singapore in 2018. The next time they met — in Hanoi, Vietnam, last January 8, 2019 — Trump abruptly left without signing any agreement. And there has been been no further movement in the talks since then.

Last Monday, a senior North Korean official, former nuclear negotiator Kim Yong Chol, said his country would not yield to US pressure as it has nothing to lose. “Trump has so many things that he doesn’t know about (North Korea).

We have nothing more to lose,” he said. “Though the US may take away anything more from us, it can never remove the strong sense of self-respect, might, and resentment against the US from us.”

It looks like the two nations are back to their old war of words. We just hope it will not degenerate further to the original state of nuclear confrontation, when North Korea was actually testing intercontinental missiles that landed in the Pacific close to the US mainland. And it was testing nuclear warheads with which it said it would one day arm its missiles. And Trump had replied in a speech at the United Nations on September 21, 2017, that he would “totally destroy” North Korea.

That was a time that brought great fear to our part of the world, for any exchange of nuclear warheads would spread radiation over our entire region. We recall how one of North Korea’s test missiles actually landed in the waters near Batanes.

So now we are back to the old war of words. There was so much promise in the summit meetings between Trump and Kim Jong Un in Singapore, then in Hanoi. What happened that it has returned to this new exchange of insults and threats?


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