U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday (local time) hinted at a phased dismantling of and compensations for North Korea’s nuclear weapons program if the North begins “complete denuclearization.” His remarks suggest that he was willing to accept the “phased and synchronous” measures championed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump also said he would guarantee the security of the North Korean regime and Kim’s safety on the condition of its denuclearization. “(The denuclearization) would certainly be better if it were all in one,” he said. “Does it have to be? I don’t think I want to totally commit myself. You do have some physical reasons that it may not be able to do exactly that. So for physical reasons, over a very short period of time.”
While reaffirming the principle of an “all in one” approach, Trump has hinted at a “Trump-style denuclearization model,” which would set stages in the process. Trump distanced himself from the “Libya model” of denuclearization followed by compensations championed by his National Security Advisor John Bolton, who is hawkish toward the North.
Trump also reassured the North Korean leader of Kim’s “safety” in exchange for complete denuclearization. “We will guarantee his safety. And we’ve talked about that from the beginning. He will be safe. He will be happy. His country will be rich.” While reaffirming that Washington will guarantee the safety of Kim’s regime in exchange for “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization,” the U.S. president declared an economic compensation for the North through private investment.
Still, Trump also made it clear that he would make no concession about complete denuclearization by saying he has a “very strong idea” about denuclearization. “There are certain conditions we want to happen,” he added, referring to his planned summit with Kim. “I think we’ll get those conditions. And if we don’t, we won’t have the meeting.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in told Trump during the meeting on the day that there would be no need to question Pyongyang’s commitment to holding a summit with the United States, stressing that it is necessary for Washington and Pyongyang to discuss ways to implement practical and concrete denuclearization and guarantee the North’s regime stability. Moon also said talks with the North will resume, including the stalled high-level inter-Korean talks,” after Friday, when the South Korea-U.S. Max Thunder joint military exercise denounced by the North ends.
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