President Donald Trump continues to defy the critics with his diplomatic brilliance in North Korea. After befriending dictator Kim Jong-un, he conducted a historic summit in Singapore last week that is already yielding tangible results.
Trump announced at a rally in Minnesota that the North Koreans have returned the remains of approximately 200 soldiers that were killed during the Korean War. Days earlier, US officials claimed that the transfers would be conducted through the UN Command in South Korea. Trump’s remarks suggest that the process is already well underway.
In addition, the denuclearization process is also well underway. Trump said today that North Korea is blowing up four of its largest test sites and that “total denuclearization … has already started.”
“They’ve stopped the sending of missiles, including ballistic missiles. They’re destroying their engine site. They’re blowing it up. They’ve already blown up one of their big test sites, in fact it’s actually four of their big test sites,” Trump said today, according to a Reuters report.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis poured a little bit of cold water on Trump’s optimistic pronouncement though. He said to reporters, “The detailed negotiations have not begun. I wouldn’t expect that at this point.”
North Korea has in fact pledged to destroy their Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, and Trump remains confident they will live up to their end of the bargain. Veteran foreign policy analysts are pleased with these recent developments, but ultimately want to see how the progress continues before declaring victory.
“Destroying testing sites is a key first step in denuclearization, as it has a lasting impacting on development capabilities,” said Jason Ditz of Antiwar.com. “While the total denuclearization is also going to require dismantling the existing nuclear arsenal, that’s going to take quite a bit of time, and slow progress won’t have the same diplomatic pop that the test sites’ destruction will.”