Trump receives ‘nice letter’ from Kim Jong Un — is North Korea deceiving us?

· August 2, 2018  
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Trump and Kim shake hands
Anthony Wallace | Getty Images

Is the North Korean regime deceiving us once again?

In a tweet Thursday, President Trump announced that he had received a second letter from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. The president praised Kim for releasing the supposed remains of American soldiers who were killed during the Korean War.

While top administration figures continue to tout the progress on North Korea talks, there remain great concerns about the viability of the effort in its entirety.

For many months, the Trump administration has remained true to the goal of securing the full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. However, North Korea experts across the political spectrum are becoming increasingly concerned that the latest moves from Pyongyang are nothing more than a smokescreen to buy time for their nuclear ambitions.

Earlier this week, news reports surfaced claiming that North Korea is continuing to ramp up production on its latest series of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Satellite images reportedly showed that North Korea is building liquid fueled ICBMs right outside of its capital. A regime apparently committed to denuclearization is making moves that achieve the exact opposite of that goal.

Bruce Klingner, a Heritage Foundation foreign policy scholar who served as the CIA’s Deputy Division Chief for Korea, has sounded the alarm about the current progress (or lack thereof) being made on denuclearization efforts. Earlier in the week, Klingner warned that the Trump administration may be moving in the direction of adopting the failed policies of the Obama administration.

There are also worrying signs that the maximum-pressure sanctions regime imposed against Pyongyang is starting to show signs of vulnerability.

The Trump administration, aware of the outside criticism of its strategy, is urging analysts to let the diplomatic talks play out. Over the weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the current negotiations with the Kim regime as “patient diplomacy.”

“We’re engaged in patient diplomacy,” Pompeo stated. “But we will not let this drag out to no end. I emphasized this position in the productive discussions I had with Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol. President Trump remains upbeat about the prospects for North Korean denuclearization. Progress is happening.”

However, it’s only a matter of time before more and more people start to ask what progress has actually been made on denuclearization, and whether North Korea is serious about internal reform.

Since its founding, the North Korean regime has developed a reputation for deception and for breaking the rules. The regime has long used stall tactics in order to buy time to advance its nuclear program, while simultaneously finding a way to receive an economic bailout lifeline to prop up its broken Stalinist economy. Unfortunately, it looks like Pyongyang under Kim Jong Un might be up to its old tricks again.

 


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Author: Jordan Schachtel

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review and editor of The Dossier for CRTV. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.