March 08, 2019 14:01
North Korea is reportedly rebuilding a missile launch site in Tongchang-ri and U.S. President Donald Trump said, "I would be very, very disappointed in [North Korean leader Kim Jong-un] -- and I don't think I will be -- but we'll see what happens. We'll take a look. It'll ultimately get solved."
Satellite images show a mobile structure at the site has returned to its original location eight months after the North claimed it shut down the facility. While efforts to force North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons have hit a snag, Trump wants to take the credit for at least getting the North to halt test launches of long-range missiles. That is why he has thrown Kim yet another gift by scrapping joint military exercises with South Korea. Now Trump is sending Kim a warning amid signs of resumed activity at Tongchang-ri just two days after their summit in Hanoi ended abruptly without an agreement.
The latest summit clearly showed that Kim's denuclearization pledge was a lie. It also became clear that Kim's hopes of faking denuclearization to get the international community to ease sanctions have failed. Another fact that became evident is that Kim is under enormous pressure at home due to the sanctions and the North is in a critical situation. From now on, North Korea's denuclearization must be addressed solely based on these facts.
North Korean officials, who were full of beans ahead of the Hanoi summit, appear to have been caught completely off guard when Trump got up and walked away. They had fallen victim to the same brinkmanship that had served them so well in negotiations with the U.S. so far. In fact, the North Koreans practically clung on to Trump's trouser legs as he was packing his bags and offered to expand the scope of facilities they could scrap at Yongbyon. What they were most scared of, of course, was Kim returning home without winning any concessions on the sanctions. Now the North Korean regime is going all out to ensure that its people do not find out that the summit collapsed. In other words, the sanctions are proving extremely effective.
Kim will give up his nuclear weapons only when he realizes he could be toppled unless he relinquishes them, and at present, sanctions are the only way to make him realize this. The U.S. Congress has begun looking into ways to bolster existing sanctions against North Korea, while the White House has begun to fix weak points in its ship-tracking system that the North has used to evade sanctions. The U.S. has it in its power to achieve North Korean denuclearization after all.
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