The optimism generated by President Trump’s meeting last month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is giving way to the reality of just how difficult it will be to persuade North Korea to surrender its nuclear weapons. In fact, it’s difficult even to understand what Kim and Trump actually agreed to.
Recent reports said U.S. intelligence agencies suspect that North Korea has, according to NBC News, “increased its production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites;” has also, 38 North adds, made “improvements to the infrastructure at … Yongbyon,” the plutonium-production reactor; and, The Washington Post reports, is “considering ways to conceal the number of weapons it has and secret production facilities.” Separately, The Wall Street Journal reported that North Korea was expanding a facility to build solid-fuel ballistic missiles, even as Kim was meeting with his South Korean counterpart in April and preparing for his meeting with Trump in June.
These assessments would seem to contradict Trump’s initial public pronouncements about his meeting with Kim. Soon afterward, Trump said the nuclear threat “will be gone.” He then tweeted: “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” But the president conceded Sunday on Fox News that “it’s possible” that a deal won’t work out.