North Korea on Saturday shared the "technical measures" it will take to fulfill leader Kim Jong Un's promise to dismantle his nuclear test site this month. The process will be completed by May 25, and though most of the work will be done over a three-day span, some reports indicate Kim already began to shutter the facility this past fall.
International observers — journalists from the U.S., U.K., China, Russia, and South Korea — will be invited to watch the destruction of the site's underground tunnels and conduct "on-the-spot coverage in order to show in a transparent manner the dismantlement of the northern nuclear test ground." Bonnie Kristian
President Trump confirmed Wednesday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is returning from his surprise visit to North Korea with three American prisoners who have been released by Pyongyang. "They seem to be in good health," Trump said, adding that he will greet them at Andrews Air Force Base when they arrive at 2 a.m.
Kim Dong-Chul was arrested in 2015 on the charge of spying on the government while Kim Hak-Song and Tony Kim were charged last year of "hostile acts," Politico reports. The trio's release comes ahead of Trump's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un; the president also confirmed that a date and place for that meeting have been set. Jeva Lange
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un secretly met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in northern China on Monday and Tuesday, Chinese state-run media reported Tuesday after Kim returned to Pyongyang.
The two previously met in Beijing in March, Kim's first trip abroad since taking power. This new meeting follows Kim's recent summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and precedes his upcoming talks with President Trump.
"Xi held talks with Kim and hosted a welcome banquet for him," the Chinese report said. "Together, they also took a stroll and attended a luncheon. In a cordial and friendly atmosphere, the top leaders of the two parties and the two countries had an all-round and in-depth exchange of views on China-DPRK relations and major issues of common concern." Bonnie Kristian
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman likes to visit North Korea. He has traveled there five times in the past five years, most recently in the summer of 2017 to attend the birthday party of his "friend for life," North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Rodman's present for the birthday boy was a copy of President Trump's best-known book, The Art of the Deal, and now that Pyongyang is making historic offers at the negotiating table, Rodman is ready for some recognition.
"I think [Kim] didn't realize who Donald Trump was at that time," Rodman mused in a video interview published by TMZ on Sunday, "until, I guess, he started to read the book and started understanding." Rodman insisted he doesn't "want to take all the credit," to "sit here and say, 'I did this. I did that'" — but he clearly wouldn't be mad if he were to go down in history as the man who brought peace to North Korea.
"Now, since things have changed again," Rodman continued in the TMZ clip, "people are calling me and saying, 'Why are you not getting the credit because you're the one [who] brought awareness to everything?'" Perhaps those are the same people who in 2013 declared that if Rodman doesn't "finish in the top three for the next Nobel Peace Prize, something's seriously wrong." Bonnie Kristian
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday offered to denuclearize his nation in exchange for a formal end to the Korean War and a promise that the United States will not invade, a representative of the South Korean government said Sunday. Pyongyang has long cast its nuclear development as insurance against U.S.-orchestrated regime change like that in Iraq and Libya.
"I know the Americans are inherently disposed against us, but when they talk with us, they will see that I am not the kind of person who would shoot nuclear weapons to the south, over the Pacific, or at the United States," Kim reportedly told South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Bonnie Kristian
While President Trump has in public enthusiastically praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's Saturday announcement that he would cease nuclear and missile testing and shutter a testing site, behind closed doors, the Trump administration is reportedly unsure of how to interpret Kim's offer.
White House aides are skeptical of the freeze proposal, The Washington Post and The New York Times both reported Saturday evening. They worry Kim's concession will create an "illusion" of cooperation without making all the changes — including total denuclearization, which many experts consider to be an unrealistic aim — the administration hopes to secure in upcoming Trump-Kim talks.
"The reality is that North Korea has nuclear weapons, and we have to deal with that reality," Toby Dalton, co-director of nuclear policy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the Post. "The gap between reality and what we're planning for is problematic," he argues, "as it creates expectations that can't be met in the summit process, and we're back to where we were." Bonnie Kristian
North Korea "no longer needs" to test nuclear weapons and missiles, leader Kim Jong Un said Saturday, and will shut down the site of the past six nuclear tests.
Kim cast the decision as a practical matter because Pyongyang has already achieved "the proven condition of complete nuclear weapons," but the announcement was hailed by many as an important gesture of goodwill in advance of Kim's upcoming meeting with President Trump. However, Kim gave no indication he is willing to surrender his current nuclear arsenal, which he views as a bulwark against forcible regime change.
The president responded to Kim's statement on Twitter:
North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World - big progress! Look forward to our Summit.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 20, 2018
A message from Kim Jong Un: “North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles.”
Also will “Shut down a nuclear test site in the country’s Northern Side to prove the vow to suspend nuclear tests.” Progress being made for all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2018
North Korean diplomat Choe Kang Il traveled to Finland Sunday for negotiations with American and South Korean representatives, notably including former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens. The talks are seen as a preliminary step toward the direct meeting President Trump has said he will have with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this spring.
The South Korean foreign ministry compared the Finland negotiations to the indirect and secretive "Track 2" dialogue Pyongyang maintains with Washington. Choe declined to comment on his agenda. Bonnie Kristian