After spending a day trying to reach an agreement with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, President Donald Trump ultimately walked away from the negotiating table last night unable to agree to Kim’s demands that the U.S. drop all economic sanctions before Kim dumps his nukes.
Trump did the right thing, here, by all logic. The sanctions are the main way we have to force North Korea to stay true to its agreements. But if all sanctions are dropped before North Korea does anything, we will not have any means to force his hand later.
Trump is also right not to rush into anything. His efforts to reach out to Kim are the first ones to find any concrete results with the Norks at all. So, why should he rush?
The Washington Post explained the end of the summit:
Trump said Kim promised he would not conduct missile launches or test nuclear weapons. And he said Kim was willing to close the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Complex, the site of North Korea’s main nuclear reactor and its only source of plutonium to make bombs. But Trump said other covert facilities to enrich uranium had not been offered up.
Trump zeroed in on sanctions as the key sticking point in his talks with Kim.
“It was about the sanctions,” he said. “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 that we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that.” (snip)
“Chairman Kim and myself, we want to do the right deal. Speed is not important,” he said.
And Kim said he was ready to denuclearize, at least in principle. “If I’m not willing to do that, I wouldn’t be here right now,” he said through an interpreter. (snip)
Asked if he were confident that the pair would reach a deal, Kim was equally guarded.
“It’s too early to tell. I won’t prejudge,” Kim said in reply to the question from a Washington Post reporter, a rare response from a North Korean leader to an independent journalist. “From what I feel right now, I do have a feeling that good results will come.”
But despite the left-media’s claims that things “collapsed” or that there was “bitterness” between the two leaders, a closer look finds this is not the case. The meetings were cordial and it does not seem that Kim had any bitterness toward Trump.
The fact is, this is just the next phase in the discussions. Kim must now go back and explain to his own supporters why Trump would not sign the agreement. There is no telling where it will go from here. Realizing that their ploy was a failure, the Norks may next soften their approach.
This is just as likely as any other outcome. But whatever the case, Trump was right to walk away and not sign something just to make it look like he had a victory.
After all, remember that Ronald Reagan walked away from the Russians at Reykjavik and we later made a better, more amicable deal.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.Don't forget to Like Godfather Politics on Facebook and Twitter, and visit our friends at RepublicanLegion.com.
Become an insider!
Sign up for the free Godfather Politics email newsletter, and we'll make sure to keep you in the loop.