Don’t start rehearsing that Nobel Peace Prize speech yet, Trump.
North Korea threw President Trump’s planned summit meeting with its leader, Kim Jong-un, into doubt on Wednesday, threatening to call off the landmark encounter if the United States insisted on “unilateral nuclear abandonment.”
The statement, made by the North’s disarmament negotiator, came hours after state media warned that the summit meeting might be canceled to protest a joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea that began this week.
The warnings caught Trump administration officials off guard and set off an internal debate over whether Mr. Kim was merely posturing in advance of the meeting in Singapore next month or was erecting a serious new hurdle.
In a statement Wednesday, Kim Kye-kwan, a vice foreign minister, rejected the administration’s demand that it quickly dismantle its nuclear program as Libya did 15 years ago, singling out John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s new national security adviser, for condemnation.
“If the United States is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the D.P.R.K.-U.S. summit,” the statement said, using the abbreviation for the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Mr. Kim said his country would never follow the path of Libya and Iraq, which he said met a “miserable fate” at the hands of “big powers.”
He said North Korea had “shed light on the quality of Bolton” in the past, “and we do not hide our feelings of repugnance towards him.”
This could be just them posturing and jockeying for position, but it could also be that North Korea saw them coming a mile away and Trump and Bolton got played big time.
It will now be up to Trump et al to come up with a cogent response that assures the world that no one really meant to suggest that North Korea would have to get rid of all of their nukes, which is exactly what Trump has been saying they promised to do all along.
In other words, the Trump folks were talking results and crowing about polishing up their plans for Stockholm next winter without bothering to go to all the trouble of having a successful summit in the first place.