Flashpoints

Trump declares North Korea still poses ‘extraordinary threat’

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Friday that North Korea still poses an “extraordinary threat” to the United States.

In an executive order, the president extended for one year the so-called “national emergency” with respect to the nuclear-armed nation, re-authorizing economic restrictions against it.

While expected, the declaration comes just nine days after Trump tweeted, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” following his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

The order appears to undermine the president’s claim.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center, shakes hands with Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of United States Forces Korea, upon his arrival at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek Wednesday, June 13, 2018. South Korea's presidential office said Pompeo will meet President Moon Jae-in Thursday morning to discuss the meeting, which made history as the first between sitting leaders of the U.S. and North Korea. (Jung Yeon-je/Pool Photo via AP)
Trump claim raises eyebrows: North Korea no longer a nuke threat?

President Donald Trump stretched credulity at home and abroad Wednesday by declaring there is “no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea” after his summit with Kim Jong Un that reduced tensions but produced no details on how or when Pyongyang might disarm.

It states that “the existence and risk of proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material” and the actions and policies of the North Korean government “continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

The national emergency has been in place since 2008 and is a sign of the enduring tensions between the U.S. and North Korea that spiked last year as the North moved closed to perfecting a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach American soil, but ebbed with the June 12 summit where Kim agreed to “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.

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 U.S. administrations for a quarter-century.

In this April 21, 2018, file photo, people watch a TV screen showing an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. The signs read:
Road to North Korea’s denuclearization is littered with failure

While Seoul and Washington welcomed Pyongyang’s declaration on Saturday to suspend further intercontinental ballistic missile tests and shut down its nuclear test site, the past is littered with failure.

Trump claimed at a Cabinet meeting Thursday that denuclearization had already begun, although Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters a day earlier that he wasn’t aware that North Korea had taken any steps yet toward denuclearization, and that detailed negotiations have not yet begun.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon said 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.

Officials had announced Monday that planning for Freedom Guard had been suspended in line with Trump’s decision to halt what he called U.S. “war games” in South Korea.

A Pentagon spokeswoman, Dana W. White, said further decisions about military exercises in South Korea “in support of diplomatic negotiations” led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will depend on North Korea “continuing to have productive negotiations in good faith.”

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