Posts tagged with "North Korea"

America may settle for nuclear freeze with North Korea

July 2, 2019

It was a shot seen around the world: Creating just the kind of global drama that he craves, U.S. President Donald Trump took a step into the Demilitarized Zone to shake hands with North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un on June 30, amid a swirl of Eastern and Western cameramen and security staff.

But for weeks before the meeting—which started as a Twitter offer by the president to Kim to drop by and “say hello”—a real idea has been taking shape inside the Trump administration that officials hope might create a foundation for a new round of negotiations, The New York Times reports.

No longer would America negotiate for North Korean denuclearization. The new “ask,” according to the Times, would be for a nuclear freeze—one that would essentially preserve the status quo; and, in doing so, recognize and accept the North as a nuclear state.

And while such an agreement would fall far short of President Trump’s original intention to disarm Korea, it might provide him with a retort to campaign-season critics—who say that Kim has been playing the American president brilliantly by giving him the visuals he craves while holding back on real concessions.

The administration still insists in public and in private that its goals remain full denuclearization; however it is willing to concede to a freeze as a limited first step.

American negotiators would seek to expand on Kim’s offer in Hanoi in February to give up the country’s main nuclear-fuel production site, at Yongbyon, in return for the most onerous sanctions against the country being lifted. Trump, under pressure from And it certainly would look like progress, after three personal meetings—in Singapore, in Hanoi, and now in the DMZ Zone—have accomplished little but smiles and handshakes.

However, according to the Times, on Sunday evening, the State Department’s envoy to North Korea, Stephen E. Biegun, said that this account of the ideas being generated in the administration was “pure speculation” and that his team was “not preparing any new proposal currently.”

“What is accurate is not new, and what is new is not accurate,” he said.

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump cuts Kim summit short, with no agreement on denuclearization

March 1, 2019

“We are gonna win, win, win. We’re going to win with military, we’re going to win at the borders, we’re going to win with trade, we’re going to win at everything”—has just lost ground in his negotiations with Leader Kim Jong Un of North Korea.

Trump arrived in Vietnam this week entertaining high hopes that he and Kim would strike a deal on denuclearization. Such a pact would have positioned the president firmly in the winners’ circle among global leaders following a long-term standoff with the Asian military state.

But it didn’t happen: The second U.S.-NoKo summit in a year (following a June 2018 meeting in Singapore) ended without any agreement on February 28, The Hill reported.

“Sometimes you have to walk,” Trump said at a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam. “This was just one of those times.”

Accord to The Hill’s report, Trump said the sticking point was sanctions, which Kim wanted lifted before taking all of the steps towards transparency that the United States was asking of him.

“It was about the sanctions,” Trump said at the media event. “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that. They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that.”

Nonetheless, Trump said the summit was “very productive.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that the two leaders “discussed various ways to advance denuclearization and economic driven concepts.”

“No agreement was reached at this time, but their respective teams look forward to meeting in the future,” she added.

The lack of any tangible results could give fodder to critics who have accused Trump of holding summits with Kim that are nothing more than photo ops that boost the legitimacy of the North Korean dictator, the political news outlet noted.

The summit included a one-on-one meeting and dinner Wednesday night, followed by a one-on-one meeting and meeting with aides Thursday.

Signs that no agreement was within reach became clearer, The Hill reported,  a half-hour after a working lunch was supposed to start when the White House told reporters the summit would end earlier than expected. The schedule originally called for the lunch and a ceremony to sign a joint agreement, both of which were abruptly scrapped.

At the start of Thursday meeting, Kim said he was not “pessimistic” about the ability to reach a deal and that he had a “feeling that good results would come out” of the summit.

The stand-down couldn’t have come on a worse day politically for Trump, whose former “fixer” and personal attorney Michael Cohen took the opportunity to “correct the record” before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform simultaneously with the summit—calling Trump “a racist, a conman, and a thief” during nearly a full day of testimony.

“He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time. Using Crooked’s lawyer!” Trump tweeted, referring to Cohen adviser Lanny Davis, who once worked for former President Clinton.

Research contact: @rebecca_h_k

Chances look slimmer for Singapore summit

May 23, 2018

The budding détente between North Korea and the United States hung in the balance on May 22, as the Trump administration continued pushing Pyongyang to denuclearize as a condition of the scheduled meeting in Singapore on June 12 with the hermit kingdom’s Leader Kim Jong Un.

Meanwhile, according to a report by CNN, North Korea has released three strongly worded statements—slamming Seoul and Washington for their joint military maneuvers earlier in the month and demanding that South Korea take action against defectors it claimed were sending anti-North Korea propaganda leaflets across the border.

As tempers on both continents continued to flare, South Korean President Moon Jae In flew into Washington, DC, to meet with President Trump in an effort to salvage the summit.

But should the diplomatic deliberations even be saved?

Those in the know say the White House staff is balking—both because North Korea seems to already have taken denuclearization off the table; and because Trump has not taken the time or trouble to learn about the nuclear program, something necessary to have a substantive conversation.

South Koreans, however, blame Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton for the problems with the summit, according to The Washington Post.

Bolton has said that his goal is for the North Korean denuclearization process to go like the one that took place in Libya in 2003, when Colonel Muammar Gaddafi agreed to give up his country’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. That didn’t end well for the Libyan leader, who eventually found himself in the midst of a coup that led to his capture and execution.

While Trump continues to hold firm on the denuclearization demands, about three-quarters of Americans (77%) approve of his original decision to meet with Kim Jong Un, according to a CNN poll conducted by SSRS and released on May 10.  Trump’s approval rating for handling the situation with North Korea has jumped ten points since late March.

At press time, there were no reports coming out of the POTUS’s meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae.

Research contact: @jgriffiths

Nearly 80% of South Koreans now trust Kim Jong Un

May 3, 2018

The rapprochement between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which took place at the border between the two countries on April 27, has had a radical effect on the people of South Korea, Bloomberg reports.

Just over a month ago, the polling organization Gallup found that just 10% of South Koreans approved of Kim. However, findings of a poll of 1,023 South Koreans released on May 1 by the Korea Research Center, show that, now, 78% of respondents trust the controversial ruler.

In turn, The Week reports that Moon is well-liked in South Korea, where he has an 86% approval rating. Respondents to the Korea Research Center poll cited several key moments in the summit between the two leaders as impressive—including the pledge to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. Thirty percent of respondents said Moon’s decision to cross the border was the most impressive part.

Nearly 90% of South Koreans said the summit was a productive step forward.

Later this month, U.S. President Donald Trump may have the opportunity to create his own détente with Kim at the same location—the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas. That site makes the most sense for the North Korean leader, News 4 Jacksonville reports, because media facilities and equipment already are in place.

Will the proposed Trump-Kim talks open up the Hermit State? Only time will tell.

Research contact: @Jee_vuh

Voters don’t give Trump a pass on gun control, healthcare, or Dreamers

March 21, 2018

Americans are paying close attention to several policy areas—among them, immigration, healthcare, gun violence and North Korea—in which they think President Donald Trump has taken the wrong approach, based on findings of a George Washington University Battleground Poll released on March 12.

Specifically, the poll of 1,000 registered U.S. voters nationwide found that a majority are worried about the POTUS’s handling of immigration (42% approve, 56% disapprove), healthcare (38%/56%), gun violence (39%/55%) and North Korea (41%/53%). 

Chief among the areas of concern is gun control. When asked how closely they’ve been following a given topic, almost all respondents said they were “closely” (72%) or “somewhat closely” (22%) following the aftermath of the premeditated mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a month ago.

On the Russia investigation, a slightly large number of respondents now believe that “members of the Trump campaign committed crimes and actively assisted Russia’s efforts”—up  to 39% from 31% in the previous edition of the GW Battleground Poll in August 2017. However, voters were split over how much the issue will matter to them when they enter their polling places next November: 41% said it was” not at all important” in the context of their 2018 voting decisions. About the same amount said it was “extremely important” (27%) or “very important” (13%) important to them. More Independents said it was “extremely important” (28%) or “very important” (12%) than “not important at all” (36%).

“The composition of the poll’s respondent universe reminds us that, even as issues rise and fall swiftly in the news these days, the electorate remains heavily skewed toward middle-aged and older voters,” said Michael Cornfield, associate professor of Political Management and research director of the GW Center for Political Management. “Candidate positions on issues that matter greatly to young people, starting with the heavily followed Parkland shooting story that stars high school activists, could be significant in enlarging the traditionally small voter pool for the midterm elections.”

Moving to the economy—a marginally brighter spot in the public’s perception—opinions still were split. The poll found that about half (52%) of likely voters approved of the approach that the president has taken with respect to jobs, with 41% disapproving. The split was similar for his handling of the overall economy (51% approve, 45% disapprove).

Voters are conflicted about the state of the American dream. Almost three-quarters (72%) think that they will be financially better off in five years, but only one-third (37%) believe that the next generation will be better off economically.

Looking ahead to this year’s congressional elections, the GW Battleground Poll found a slight shift in voters’ attitudes toward the candidates. Presented with a generic ballot, 49% of voters chose a Democrat and 40% chose a Republican. In the previous edition of the GW Battleground Poll, those figures were 44% and 38%, respectively. Undecided voters decreased to 12% from 1%.

Democrats also appeared more enthusiastic than did Republicans ahead of the midterm elections. Among voters who say they are “extremely likely” to vote in the upcoming midterms, 51% prefer Democrats, while 39% prefer Republicans. Among voters who say they are “very likely” to vote, Democrats enjoy a 10-point advantage (48% to 38%).

The George Washington University Battleground Poll is a series of surveys conducted by Republican pollster Ed Goeas of The Tarrance Group and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners. GW’s Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) and the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) serve as the university’s home for the partnership.

Research contact: jshevrin@gwu.edu