Pres. Trump declares NKorea still poses "extraordinary threat"

Lester Mason
Июня 23, 2018

President Donald Trump cited an "unusual and extraordinary threat" to US national security as he acted Friday to maintain long-standing economic restrictions on North Korea, including the freezing of any assets in the United States.

Last month, footage appeared to show North Korea blowing up tunnels at a nuclear test site, hours before President Trump canceled the planned summit.

According to the Pentagon, North Korean officials have indicated in the past that they have the remains of as many as 200 USA troops.

The two sides, however, still have to negotiate the terms under which the North would give up its nukes and win relief from sanctions - a goal that has eluded US administrations for a quarter-century.

FILE PHOTO: Caskets that contain the remains of U.S. soldiers from the Korean War that were discovered in and repatriated from North Korea arrive at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S. April 12, 2007.

In reality, the statement going along with the executive order is practically a form letter, closely mirroring what is issued annually since the Bush-era as a justification to give the executive branch power to impose a series of sanctions on North Korea.

Asked on Wednesday if North Korea had done anything toward denuclearisation since the summit, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters: "No, I'm not aware of that. obviously, it's the very front end of a process". Since then, presidents have routinely renewed that status - and the anti-Pyongyang sanctions that go with it. "No longer - sleep well tonight!"

But on Friday, the White House released a declaration - signed by Trump - revealing that his outlandish claim was a complete lie.

Negotiations between the United States and North Korean teams are continuing in an attempt to iron out the details of what was a vaguely worded agreement between the two leaders in Singapore.

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In May, prior to the summit, North Korea demolished tunnels at its sole underground nuclear test site, although outsiders have not inspected the result.

Also Friday, the US and South Korea agreed to indefinitely suspend two exchange program training exercises, to support diplomatic negotiations with North Korea, the Pentagon said. Some could be lifted as negotiations progress.

North Korea has furiously objected to the exercises for many years, branding them provocative and a rehearsal for invasion.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon said on Friday evening that it has "indefinitely suspended" a major military exercise with South Korea, known as Freedom Guard and scheduled for August, as well as two Korean Marine exchange training exercises.

Republican Senator John McCain has criticised the president's stance on the exercises, calling the suspensions a mistake.

This is not the first time that the USA and South Korea have delayed joint exercises.

It is not yet clear if major United States drills slated for spring 2019 will also be suspended.

Pompeo told the same Cabinet meeting Kim had made a personal commitment, and added: "He has got his reputation on the line".

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