President Trump asserted Wednesday that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat, raising questions in Washington about the administration’s elusive details for disarming Pyongyang, a day after the president’s historic summit with Kim Jong-un.
Returning to the White House around dawn after a nearly 24-hour journey from the summit site in Singapore, the president said the world could “sleep well” as a result of his agreement with North Korea’s leader.
“There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” Mr. Trump tweeted, adding that “everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office.”
The joint summit statement signed by the two leaders committed North Korea to the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” but doesn’t specify a process or timetable.
Democrats said the president was spiking the football in celebration before crossing the goal line, some even comparing it with President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” banner during the Iraq war, years before fighting ended.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, called Mr. Trump’s claim “truly delusional.”
“It [North Korea] has same arsenal today as 48 hours ago,” he tweeted. “Does he really think his big photo-op ended the [North Korea’s] nuclear program? Hope does not equal reality.”
Former Clinton administration special envoy George Mitchell called the president’s comment “unwise and premature.”
In a survey released Wednesday by Reuters, 39 percent of Americans believe the summit has lowered the threat of nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea, while 37 percent said they don’t believe it has changed anything....Slightly more than half of all Americans say they approve of how Mr. Trump has handled North Korea, but only a quarter think that his summit this week with Mr. Kim will lead to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.The administration and its Republican allies defended the terms of the agreement, saying “complete” denuclearization means just that — complete.“This president wants North Korea to completely denuclearize so obviously that has to be complete, verifiable and irreversible,” said White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.Vice President Mike Pence, speaking at the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the rest of the U.S. team working on North Korea are now moving into the “trust but verify” phase.“Now comes vigorous negotiations to implement the agreement . as soon as possible,” Mr. Pence said. “Our sanctions will remain in place until North Korea’s nuclear weapons are no longer a factor. We will not repeat the mistakes of the past.”He also noted that North Korea hasn’t tested a missile in about seven months. Mr. Kim has pledged not to conduct any more tests.Before taking office, Mr. Trump tweeted, “people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea.”“President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer — sleep well tonight!” he said in another tweet.In South Korea, Mr. Pompeo told reporters there were other understandings reached between