After two days of discussions with North Korea regarding denuclearization, U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, hailed the meeting as solid “progress on almost all of the central issues,” and “good-faith negotiations.” North Korean representatives begged to differ. In fact, the kindest thing they had to say was that the talks were “regrettable.”
An unnamed North Korea Foreign Ministry spokesman released a statement within hours of the meeting, ending which refuted almost everything that Pompeo had said about the negotiations. The differences are so stark, that it seems like they are discussing two different meetings almost. North Korea claimed that the U.S. violated the spirit of the agreement reached at the June 12 Singapore summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
As more and more questions began to arise regarding just what went on at a meeting which was described as of being of the utmost importance, it was disclosed that Pompeo never even met with Chairman Kim Jong Un. Not even to deliver the Elton John CD, Rocket Man, to Un, which Trump had autographed. The Washington Post confirmed that there is no tangible evidence of the breakthrough or anything game-changing, that Pompeo claimed took place during the negotiations he didn’t have with Un.
The reality of the meeting is that it was less exciting and far more unproductive than the American public had been led to believe. No agreements were reached other than to talk again at a later date regarding different issues and set up some working groups to handle that. Since the Trump meeting with Un, North Korea has appeared to actually try to bolster their nuclear program and add in long-range submarines to their arsenal making them even more dangerous. Armchair analysts say it is to strengthen their bargaining chips with the U.S., while long-time intelligence analysts tend to be more reality-based and believe it is because they have no intention of weakening their military strength in any way.
When pressed for details, Pompeo wasn’t willing to deliver any, and instead often spoke in the vaguest terms he could.
“I’m not going to get into details of our conversations but we spent a good deal of time talking. . . and I think we made progress in every element of our discussions.”
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, has openly expressed his concerns regarding the manner in which the negotiations are taking place, and also with the people doing the negotiating.
“What concerns me at this stage is the secretary of state flying all the way from Washington to Pyongyang to try to engage in detailed working-level negotiations as an ongoing approach to negotiating denuclearization, That’s unsustainable.”
All concerns aside, most agree that now that Trump has opened the door to North Korea, the best thing to do is try to negotiate with them to help stabilize the region. While negotiations are going slow and mostly unproductive to this point, U.S. officials are pointing out negotiations with any nation are often slow and that it is the lower level diplomats who usually do the heavy lifting before the executive branches are involved. Whether that is the case, or North Korea is just stringing Trump along remains to be seen.