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Trump wants Kim to know he likes him and will fulfill his wishes, South Korean leader says

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, December 3rd, 2018

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un walk together before their working lunch during their summit at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) – Donald Trump wants North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to know that he likes him and will fulfill his wishes, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said on Sunday, a day after meeting the U.S. president at an economic summit in Argentina.

Moon, who is hoping to host Kim soon on the first ever trip to Seoul by a North Korean leader as agreed earlier this year, said Trump had asked him to pass on a message.

“The message is that President Trump has very favorable views toward Chairman Kim and he likes him,” Moon told reporters aboard a flight from Argentina to New Zealand, where he started a three-day state visit on Sunday.

“As such, he asked me to tell Chairman Kim that he wants to implement the rest of their agreement together and he will fulfill Chairman Kim’s wishes.”

Trump, who met Kim in Singapore in June, said on Saturday that he is likely to meet the North Korean leader for a second time in January or February, with three sites for their meeting under consideration.

“We’re getting along very well. We have a good relationship,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on his return from the G20 summit. Trump added that at some point he will invite Kim to the United States.

Kim and Trump pledged at their first meeting to work towards denuclearisation, although the two sides have since made little progress agreeing on a timeline or concrete steps.

The White House said in a statement on Saturday after Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping that they and Kim will strive “to see a nuclear free Korean Peninsula”. The statement said Xi and Trump “agreed that great progress has been made with respect to North Korea.”

Trump has frequently described a warm personal relationship with Kim, arguing that this rapport would help him succeed at a diplomatic breakthrough that has eluded U.S. presidents since the 1950s.

In September Trump drew applause from a crowd of supporters at a campaign rally by describing “beautiful” letters he had exchanged with Kim, saying: “We fell in love, ok?”

Trump’s critics say such warm words have so far failed to yield concrete concessions from one of the world’s most authoritarian states.

Trump’s latest praise for Kim, in the formal setting of a summit with Moon, shows that he is still emphasizing his personal rapport despite stalled nuclear talks.

Moon said a second summit between Kim and Trump will prove to be the “most critical moment” for North Korea’s denuclearisation.

Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Peter Graff

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North Korea leader sincere, must be rewarded for move to abandon nuclear weapons: South Korean president

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, October 15th, 2018

FILE PHOTO – South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walk during a luncheon, in this photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 21, 2018. KCNA via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is sincere and really means to abandon nuclear weapons, South Korean President Moon Jae-in told a French newspaper, adding that the international community needed to reward him for that.

Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump pledged at a landmark summit in Singapore in June to work toward denuclearization. But the agreement was short on specifics and talks have made little headway since, with the North refusing to declare its nuclear weapons and facilities or agree to a concrete timeline.

“This year I have discussed in depth with Kim for hours. These meetings have convinced me that he has taken the strategic decision to abandon his nuclear weapon,” Moon told Le Figaro in an interview before a state visit to Paris.

Moon is to meet President Emmanuel Macron on Monday.

While Pyongyang has stopped nuclear and missile tests this year, it failed to keep its promise to allow international inspections of its dismantling of the Punggye-ri site in May, stirring criticism that the move could be reversed.

But Moon said Kim was “sincere, calm and polite” and “felt frustrated by the international community’s continuing mistrust”.

“It is now time to respond to these efforts that were hard to agree to,” Moon said. “We need to assure Kim Jong Un that he took the right decision in deciding to denuclearize and we need to accompany him in his wish for a durable and solid peace.”

Washington wants concrete action, such as a full disclosure of North Korea’s nuclear and missile facilities, before meeting Pyongyang’s demands, including an official end to the Korean war and the easing of international sanctions.

Moon said he hoped another Trump-Kim summit would allow the two leaders to go further than the statements they made at their first meeting in Singapore.

“Declaring an end to the Korea war would be a start to establishing a regime of peace,” he said, also calling for the United States to take “reliable corresponding measures to guarantee the security of the regime”.

“We could also in the future discuss the easing of sanctions, in accordance with progress on denuclearization,” he added.

Reporting by Ingrid Melander; editing by David Stamp

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Explainer: Why nuclear disclosure is key first step in North Korea’s denuclearization

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, September 24th, 2018

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un acknowledges the audience after watching the performance titled “The Glorious Country” at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 19, 2018. Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool via REUTERS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RC155595F230

 

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New pledges made last week by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to curb his nuclear weapons program may have opened the door to further talks with Washington, but just how much impact would they have on the North’s nuclear arsenal?

At last week’s summit with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, Kim promised to allow outside inspections on key missile facilities, and expressed a willingness, for the first time, to “permanently” scrap North Korea’s main nuclear complex.

Graphic: Nuclear North Korea – tmsnrt.rs/2lE5yjF

While these are positive first steps, experts say they would do little to damage the country’s larger nuclear and missile capabilities, nor demonstrate whether Kim is serious about giving up his nuclear arsenal.

The agreement by Kim and Moon also does not stipulate any plans by North Korea to declare a list of its nuclear weapons, facilities and materials, or a concrete timeline for denuclearization.

With U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expected to meet his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho to restart nuclear talks as soon as this week on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, here is a summary of Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile capabilities at stake.

YONGBYON

In the joint statement, the North expressed its willingness to “permanently dismantle” the Yongbyon nuclear complex if the United States takes corresponding action. Moon said this would include a declaration of an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

A sprawling complex located about 100 km (60 miles) north of the capital, Yongbyon is the country’s main nuclear facility and the birthplace of its nuclear programs.

Built in the late 1950s with Soviet aid, it houses at least three reactors, fissile materials, fuel re-processing plants and a multitude of research labs, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a Washington-based think tank.

An operational five-megawatt reactor there produces weapons-grade plutonium, while there is also a facility to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU), also used to make atomic bombs, experts say.

Dismantling Yongbyon would slow the production of fissile material, but not reduce the current stockpile of plutonium and HEU, nor clear suspicions of other secret production sites, says Joshua Pollack, a North Korea missile expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California.

“Yongbyon is where all of North Korea’s plutonium production has taken place, so this step would effectively cap their stockpile of plutonium,” Pollack said.

“Unfortunately, it would neither reduce their current plutonium stockpile nor address the production of highly enriched uranium, which most experts believe happens both at Yongbyon and at one or more other sites.”

North Korea has denied the existence of other secret sites, but U.S. media reports, citing intelligence sources, said in recent months the North has been running at least one covert uranium enrichment facility just outside of Pyongyang, known as the Kangson enrichment site.

“But there is still value in being able to verifiably shut down the known facilities with a negotiated mechanism for inspecting suspected sites,” said Jenny Town, managing editor of the Washington-based Stimson Centre’s 38 North project, which provides satellite imagery analyses of the North’s weapons facilities.

TONGCHANG-RI

North Korea also said it will “permanently dismantle” its missile engine testing site and launch platform in the northwestern town of Tongchang-ri in the presence of experts from “concerned countries”.

Also known as the Sohae satellite launching station, this site has been the country’s primary site for rocket launches since 2012. It is where the North last year test-fired intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) designed to reach the U.S. mainland.

The facility consists of a missile assembly building, a launch pad with a gantry and mobile launch platform, fuel and oxidizer storage, a rocket engine test stand and an instrumentation stand, according to NTI.

In July, after the Singapore summit between Kim and Trump, satellite imagery indicated the North has begun dismantling the engine test site in Tongchang-ri, but without allowing outsiders access for verification.

While it has served as a key test center for liquid fuel engines designed for long-range missiles and played an important role in the country’s ICBM development, Sohae’s importance may be diminishing, experts say. Pyongyang, having declared its newest ICBM complete in November, has called for mass production to begin.

The North has also been moving toward solid-fuel missiles that can be fired from harder-to-detect mobile launchers, making a fixed stand increasingly unnecessary. There is also at least one other operational missile launch station, Tonghae or Musudan-ri in the northeast, though it has not been used since 2009.

“Neither that engine test site nor launch platform would be U.S. priorities,” said Lee Ho-ryung, head of North Korea military studies at the Korea Institute for Defence Analyses in Seoul. “Maybe a political message to the United States, but that would hardly make meaningful steps toward denuclearization.”

EXISTING NUCLEAR STOCKPILE
Estimates on how many nuclear weapons North Korea vary. U.S. intelligence officials have put it at between 30 and 60 warheads, while South Korea’s intelligence agency said last month the North may have as many as 100 warheads.

38 North, which estimates North Korea has 50-60 nuclear warheads, said last year the operational Yongbyon reactor is capable of producing around 6 kg of plutonium every year, enough to make about two bombs.

The suspected continuation of production makes it an urgent task to get Pyongyang to first freeze nuclear and missile production, as well as convince it to declare all related facilities for verification, experts say.

“How far the North would go to disclose its facilities would be key,” said Kim Dae-young, a military analyst at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy in Seoul.

“Though it may be implausible to rid them completely of nuclear capabilities, it’s crucial to make it impossible for them to build the bombs again, including through regular inspections.”

Reporting by Hyonhee Shin in SEOUL and David Brunnstrom and Matt Spletanick in WASHINGTON; Additional reporting by Haejin Choi and Jeongmin Kim in SEOUL; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Lincoln Feast.

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Trump thanks Kim as North Korea hands over Korean War remains

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, July 30th, 2018

A soldier carries a casket containing the remains of a U.S. soldier who was killed in the Korean War during a ceremony at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Pool

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – North Korea on Friday handed over 55 boxes carrying remains thought to be of U.S. soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War, a first step in implementing an agreement reached at a landmark summit in June.

The handover of the boxes, draped in the blue and white flag of the United Nations, represents a modest diplomatic triumph for U.S. President Donald Trump from his June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore that was aimed primarily at persuading North Korea to give up a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States.

“I want to thank Chairman Kim for keeping his word,” Trump said at a White House event, at which he hailed “great fallen heroes from America.”

“We have many others coming. But I want to thank Chairman Kim in front of the media for fulfilling a promise that he made to me. And I’m sure that he will continue to fulfill that promise as they search and search and search,” Trump said.

The transfer of the remains coincided with the 65th anniversary of the 1953 armistice that ended fighting between North Korean and Chinese forces and South Korean and U.S.-led forces under the U.N. Command. The two sides remain technically at war because a peace treaty was never signed.

More than 7,700 U.S. troops remain unaccounted for from the Korea War. About 5,300 were lost in what is now North Korea.

The pledge to transfer war remains was seen as a goodwill gesture by Kim at the summit. While it has taken longer than some U.S. officials had hoped, the handover will rekindle hopes for progress in nuclear talks, which so far has appeared scant.

Kim committed in a broad summit statement to work toward denuclearization but Pyongyang has offered no details, raising doubts about whether he is willing to give up his weapons unilaterally, as Washington has demanded.

In a statement on the remains handover, the White House said it was “encouraged by North Korea’s actions and the momentum for positive change.” South Korea called it “meaningful progress that could contribute to fostering trust” between Pyongyang and Washington.

A U.S. military transport plane flew the remains from North Korea’s northeastern city of Wonsan to Osan air base in South Korea.

At Osan, soldiers in dress uniforms with white gloves slowly carried the 55 cases to waiting vans.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters the remains would be reviewed initially in Korea before being flown to Hawaii for forensic identification.

While there was no indication of anything amiss, he said, it was still not known who was in the boxes.

“You noticed there was a U.N. blue flag on each of the boxes. Many of the U.N. nations with us also have missing,” he said.

“As we discover it, they’ll be returned and they could go to Australia; they have missing. France has missing. America has – there’s a whole lot of us,” he said.

“We have families when they got the telegram have never had closure. They’ve never gone out and had the body returned. What we’re seeing here is an opportunity to give those families closure, to make certain that we continue to look for those remaining.”

JOINT SEARCHES
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 15 that Washington and Pyongyang had agreed to recommence field operations in North Korea to search for the thousands of Americans who never returned home from North Korea.

Mattis said the U.S. military was “absolutely” considering the possibility of sending personnel to North Korea for this purpose. He told reporters Friday’s handover set a positive tone for broader diplomatic negotiations.

The United States and North Korea conducted joint searches from 1996 until 2005, when Washington halted the operations, citing concerns about the safety of its personnel as Pyongyang stepped up its nuclear program.

More than 400 caskets of remains found in North Korea were returned to the United States between the 1990s and 2005, with the bodies of some 330 other Americans also accounted for, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

The program helped bring in vital hard currency to North Korea, which has been under U.S.-led sanctions for decades. However, reviving it could complicate U.S. efforts to persuade countries around the world to maintain economic pressure on Pyongyang.

Pyongyang has renewed calls for a declaration of the end of the Korean War, calling it the “first process for peace” and an important way Washington can add heft to security guarantees it has pledged in return for North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons.

The U.S. State Department says Washington is committed to building a peace mechanism to replace the armistice when North Korea has denuclearized.

Pompeo said on Wednesday North Korea was continuing to produce fuel for nuclear bombs despite its pledge to denuclearize, even as he argued that the United States was making progress in talks with Pyongyang.

Pompeo said North Korea had begun to dismantle a missile test site, something Kim also promised in Singapore, and called it “a good thing, steps forward.”

However, he said North Korea needed to follow through on its summit commitments to denuclearize and stressed the need to maintain sanctions until it did so.

Reporting by Eric Beech, David Brunnstrom, David Alexander and Phil Stewart in WASHINGTON and Joyce Lee and Hyonhee Shin in SEOUL; Editing by Nick Macfie and James Dalgleish

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