Sat, Jun 23, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Trump: N Korea blowing up test sites

REVERSIBLE ACTIONS:The US president said that he had forged a ‘very strong’ relationship with Kim Jong-un, while admitting that the situation could change

Reuters, WASHINGTON

US President Donald Trump on Thursday said that North Korea was blowing up four of its big test sites and that a process of “total denuclearization ... has already started taking place,” without providing any details.

“They’ve stopped the sending of missiles, including ballistic missiles. They’re destroying their engine site. They’re blowing it up,” Trump said at a meeting of his Cabinet at the White House. “They’ve already blown up one of their big test sites, in fact it’s actually four of their big test sites, and the big thing is it will be a total denuclearization, which has already started taking place.”

It was not immediately clear which North Korean test sites he was referring to.

Asked on Wednesday whether North Korea has done anything toward denuclearization since a landmark summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said: “No, I’m not aware of that. I mean, obviously, it’s the very front end of a process. The detailed negotiations have not begun. I wouldn’t expect that at this point.”

Mattis sat next to Trump at Thursday’s Cabinet meeting.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s remarks.

The US-based North Korea monitoring group 38 North said in an analysis at the end of last week there had been no sign of any activity toward the dismantling of any missile test site.

Trump, who has been leading an international drive to press North Korea to abandon development of nuclear missiles capable of reaching the US, told reporters after the June 12 summit that Kim had pledged to dismantle one of his missile installations.

A US official on Wednesday said that the site Trump referred to then was the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, a major facility in the western part of the country that has been used for testing engines for long-range missiles.

North Korea announced ahead of the Singapore summit the suspension of its ICBM testing and also closed its nuclear bomb test site, where it conducted several explosions in front of visiting media that it said were to destroy testing tunnels.

However, US officials have said that such actions are reversible.

In the Cabinet meeting, Trump said that “things can change.”

“Personalities can change. Maybe you end up with conflict. Maybe you don’t,” he said, adding that both he and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had established a “very strong” relationship with Kim that he thought would lead to “tremendous success.”

Trump went on to say that the “No. 1 statement” in the document he and Kim signed in Singapore was “we will immediately begin total denuclearization of North Korea,” although there was no such statement in the text.

In the joint statement, Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” but did not refer to a time line.

Going into the summit, Pyongyang repeatedly rejected unilateral nuclear disarmament.

Kim had made a personal commitment, Pompeo said at the Cabinet meeting, adding: “He has got his reputation on the line.”

US allies and North Korea’s neighbor and ally China remain supportive of the US policy of maintaining sanctions on Pyongyang until its denuclearization is complete, Pompeo said.

Trump repeated his thanks to Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) for supporting sanctions, adding that the border between China and North Korea is “getting a little weaker now.”

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