An explosive new report from Reuters alleges that President Donald Trump asked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to surrender all his country's nuclear weapons and bomb fuel to the United States at a summit in Hanoi last month.
The letter, which Trump gave copies of to Kim in both English and Korean, called on the nation to transfer all weapons and bomb fuel to the United States, declare the scope of its nuclear program and submit to inspections by American and international inspectors, immediately cease all nuclear-related activities and construction, destroy all nuclear infrastructure, and to move all nuclear program personnel into civilian occupations.
The delivery of the letter on February 28 coincided with the breakdown of talks and hasty collapse of the summit. After the letter was delivered in the morning, a scheduled lunch between Trump and Kim was abruptly canceled. Neither side has offered any official explanation for the cancelation, but in light of the new report, it seems safe to assume the letter played a significant role.
Reuters also reported that the letter was the first time Trump had explicitly enumerated his demands regarding North Korean denuclearization. The White House was reportedly prepared to lift all sanctions against North Korea if the deal was accepted.The aggressive approach was compared by some insiders to the tactics used by the United States to denuclearize Libya in the early 2000s -- of course, under the control of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya fared poorly after surrendering its weapons. Seven years after signing an agreement with the United States, the U.S. assisted a NATO military operation which led to Gaddafi's overthrow and eventual death at the hands of rebels.
National Security Advisor John Bolton has long advocated for taking the "Libyan approach" against North Korea; North Korean officials called the plan "absurd" and stressed Libya's "miserable fate" after denuclearizing.
President Trump was keen to stress the differences.
"The Libya model was a much different model. We decimated that country," he bluntly stated. Trump had also stated beforehand that he would only employ a Libyan approach if he could not reach another sort of deal with Kim, per the Reuters report.
Jenny Town, a North Korea expert at the Washington-based Stimson Center think tank, gave her input on the situation and criticized the Trump administration for their obtuse approach to the situation.
"This is what Bolton wanted from the beginning and it clearly wasn't going to work. If the U.S. was really serious about negotiations they would have learned already that this wasn't an approach they could take. It's already been rejected more than once, and to keep bringing it up... would be rather insulting. It's a non-starter and reflects absolutely no learning curve in the process."A North Korean official reportedly stated after the conclusion of the summit that the United States' demands were "gangster-like," and that the North Korean government was considering stopping all talks with the U.S. and possibly re-initiating missile and nuclear tests.