Expert 'would not be surprised' if US-North Korea summit rescheduled
- Ellen Mills
US President Donald Trump has said his summit with North Korea's leader could still happen on 12 June, despite earlier cancelling the meeting. By destroying it, "They're giving away the least useful part of their nuclear program", she says.
Punggye-ri is located in the remote, mountainous northeastern section of the country.
Trump's letter was released publicly within hours of Western journalists confirming they had witnessed the demolition of North Korea's remote nuclear test site at Punggye-Ri. "From a geologic perspective, it's a really good choice", says Frank Pabian, an imagery analyst at 38 North with a long background in studying nuclear testing. Most of the test tunnels lie under Mount Mantap, a granite mountain that is flawless for containing powerful nuclear explosions.
The senior US official said the North violated a pledge to allow global inspectors to monitor the supposed implosion of the test site. On Thursday, Tracy was among the journalists allowed to tour the facility before it was blown up.
Immediately after the test, he notes, satellite images revealed the North stepped up digging in another tunnel, the so-called West Portal.
Fire and fury North Korean leader Kim Jong-un
The U.S. stands "ready if necessary", including militarily, if North Korea lashes out, the president later warned at the White House.
"As we've seen countless times before, the president tends to walk back some of his more boisterous rhetoric time and time again", said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA. "You don't need to do a whole lot more if you can do that - at least, not anytime soon".
Cheshire said: "If you think back to a year ago, when he was a pariah, well, he's had all these meetings where he has become more of an global (figure) than a despot back home, especially that historic meeting in the Demilitarised Zone between North and South Korea". In 2008, it demolished the cooling tower for its main reactor at a nuclear complex known as Yongbyon.
While the past few months of diplomacy have been a boon for Kim, Trump's cancellation of the summit has damaged South Korean president Moon Jae-in's standing.
In his letter to Kim, Trump cited "tremendous anger and open hostility" from North Korea as reasons for pulling out of the summit.
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April 27: Kim holds a summit meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. There are 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea and the two regularly hold military exercises that infuriate Pyongyang. That quote was relayed to the press by Yoon Young-chan, a spokesman for Moon.
Despite hints in recent statements of the old fiery rhetoric from both the United States president and Pyongyang, both sides have left the door open for talks.
"It's been more than 10 years now but I still think about my life in the North and I long to see my friends and relatives who I left behind".
However, letting in a smattering of foreign journalists is different from North Korea's original pledge following the April 27 summit, in which Pyongyang announced it would let in worldwide journalists as well as nuclear experts to observe the dismantling of its test site.
"It won't be like a year ago when South Korea and the USA stressed their firm alliance and pressured North Korea", he told AFP. At the end of the meeting, the two declared a commitment to "complete denuclearisation" of the Korean peninsula. (News1/Pool via Reuters) A North Korean official talks about the dismantling process prior to the detonation of explosives.
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Trump also warned North Korea the U.S. military was ready in the event of any reckless acts, and when asked if the summit cancellation increased the risk of war, he replied: "We'll see what happens". But our team confirmed that the translator said what I said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the parties to keep talking, as did host Singapore, while Russia's President Vladimir Putin held out hope that dialogue would resume and the talks would eventually take place. "I think that would be pretty disastrous".
Trump's cancellation of the summit came amid mounting skepticism about the North's sincerity after the country's earlier threats to scrap the Kim-Trump summit.
Meanwhile, commenting on what lies ahead, Dr Sojin Lim, a senior lecturer in Korean studies told The Independent that "It will now be up to South Korea to try to bring the two countries back into some sort of dialogue - however, North Korea's burgeoning relationship with China means that it is now far less dependent on the USA, so it will be even more hard to re-establish negotiations between the two countries".
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