Trump denied ‘tolerating North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons’… Possibility of negotiations on sanctions relief when returned to power.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump dismissed reports that he would tolerate North Korea’s possession of existing nuclear weapons if he takes office again in next year’s U.S. presidential election, calling it “disinformation created by the (ruling U.S.) Democratic Party.” Permitting North Korea’s nuclear weapons runs counter to the long-standing policy stance of South Korea and the United States toward North Korea, which is based on North Korea’s ‘complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization (CVID)’, so they believed that there would be significant repercussions and launched a direct rebuttal.
However, former President Trump emphasized that he could handle North Korea better than President Joe Biden, saying, “Kim Jong-un (North Korea’s State Affairs Commission Chairman) is acting again, but we have a very good relationship.” Unlike the Biden administration, which strengthened trilateral cooperation between Korea, the United States, and Japan to suppress and respond to threats from North Korea, he plans to pursue ‘top-down’ negotiations similar to the North Korea-US summit during his first term in office.
Trump directly denied ‘tolerating North Korean nuclear weapons’…Politico, a U.S. political media outlet, quoted three anonymous sources on the 13th (local time) and said, “Former President Trump is providing financial incentives to North Korea to allow it to possess (existing) nuclear weapons but to stop manufacturing new nuclear weapons.” “We are considering a plan,” the report said.
Politico reported that a plan to lift sanctions against North Korea and provide economic support in exchange for a freeze on North Korea’s nuclear program and verification of this is being considered. Through this, former President Trump is trying to focus on the competition for hegemony with China rather than wasting time on talks about North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
As the repercussions spread, former President Trump posted his social media ‘Truth Social’ ‘I claimed that Politico’s fake news weakened my position on North Korea’s nuclear program. He refuted, “This is false information concocted by Democratic Party operatives to cause confusion.”
He then claimed, “The only accurate thing about this report is that I get along well with Kim Jong-un.” Fred Plaitz, deputy director of the Center for American Security at the America First Institute, a think tank that is preparing Trump’s pledge to return to power, also told Radio Free Asia, “Trump knows exactly that denuclearization should be the goal.”
The reason former President Trump directly refuted certain reports was because the theory that North Korea’s nuclear weapons were tolerated not only unsettled key U.S. allies such as South Korea and Japan, but also ran counter to public opinion within the Republican Party, which favors hard-line policies against North Korea. There is also an intention to distance ourselves from North Korea’s claim to recognize it as a nuclear state.
Despite his denial, there are observations that an exchange of sanctions relief for a freeze on North Korea’s nuclear program could become a powerful way to negotiate denuclearization with North Korea if former President Trump returns to power.
A nuclear freeze. is one of the measures discussed to revive the momentum of North Korean nuclear negotiations after the second North Korea-US summit held in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2019 ended in ‘no deal’. At the time, the Trump administration was known to have pursued a comprehensive agreement with North Korea, including an end state and roadmap for denuclearization, and also discussed a ‘snap back’ clause that would reinstate sanctions if North Korea refused to verify its nuclear weapons. North Korea rejected the proposal for phased denuclearization, insisting on ‘pre-sanctions relief’.
Former President Trump repeatedly emphasized his close relationship with Chairman Kim and raised the possibility of resuming top-down negotiations. This is also a factor that will bring about major changes in the situation on the Korean Peninsula when he returns to power. Former President Trump also said at a campaign rally in Iowa that day, “Kim Jong-un respected me and we had no problems.” He then mentioned the nuclear weapons of North Korea, China, and Russia and said, “We could easily head into World War III.” “(This situation) cannot be left to Biden, an incompetent negotiator.”
Considering this, if former President Trump returns to power, the Biden administration’s stance to strengthen security cooperation between Korea, the United States and Japan and extended deterrence will weaken. There are observations that this could happen. North Korea is prioritizing direct communication with the United States while ‘passing’ South Korea on major issues, and in this process, the deployment of U.S. military strategic assets and ROK-U.S. training may be reduced. A government source expressed concern that “this is a North Korean nuclear approach that is highly likely to send the wrong signal to Kim Jong-un.” There are also observations that the debate over the theory of nuclear armament could be reignited in Korea.