Enough of the Platitudes, Trump Needs to Get Action From Kim Jong Un on Nuclear Weapons, Human Rights

The last time president Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un met, the United States president said he “fell in love” with North Korea’s mercurial dictator. For the sake of the world, let’s hope that love means not having to say we’re sorry.A second summit between Trump and Kim next month must yield results on stopping the north’s nuclear program. The first one didn’t. Yes, in response to Trump’s gushing, Kim returned three American hostages, turned over the remains of Americans killed in the Korean War and destroyed an obsolete nuclear testing site. But on his existing nuclear and missiles programs or human rights reforms, Kim hasn’t budged. The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, recently reported the existence of a previously undisclosed secret ballistic missile base, one of about 20 that North Korea hasn’t declared.The president must be clear-eyed and look beyond the “beautiful letters” wooing from Kim. Trump’s misguided tweeted assessment that "there is no longer a Nuclear Threat. ... Sleep well tonight!" upon his return to Washington after the first summit suggests he is playing into Kim’s hands.The stark truth is that while the war of elementary school taunts between the two leaders has quieted, North Korea’s nuclear threat hasn’t. And North Korea remains every bit the human rights pariah that it has been through several generations of the Kim autocratic family dynasty.Trump’s so-called agreement with Kim from the first summit called for "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" with no specifics or timetables. Months later, there is no evidence that North Korea has even thought about dismantling weapons and disposing of nuclear material.From North Korea’s perspective, talk is a cheap, reliable tactic that keeps it from having to do anything with its weapons cache. But from the U.S. perspective, talk is expensive: it elevates Kim’s profile on the world stage; gives the perception that he’s a reasonable diplomat and distracts from the human rights abuses that label North Korea a desperate outlaw nation.Trump has to get something specific and measurable from Kim. Last time, Kim got Trump to do what no other American president has ever contemplated -- suspending a joint military training exercise with South Korea and uttering the possibility that U.S. troops could exit South Korea.If Trump has a strategy beyond a personal charm offensive, we don’t see it. He must stop chatting aimlessly while allowing Kim to manipulate him as Kim’s father and grandfather attempted to do with other presidents. Nor should we have a repeat of the first meeting when Trump kept his own administration officials and the public in the dark on the details of what occurred between the two leaders behind closed doors.Each time Trump allows empty conversations to take the place of disarmament, Kim gains the time and leverage he needs to threaten his neighbors in Asia and the United States. A rogue nation with nukes and broken promises can’t be given the benefit of the doubt.   Continue reading...

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