Trump Says Nuclear Threat is Over; North Korea Experts Skeptical

A former foreign service officer who served in North Korea while Kim Jong-Un’s father ruled is skeptical of President Trump’s claim that “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.” David Lambertson who worked as American liaison to the Korean Economic Development Organization in North Korea told me that the threat is over only in Trump’s “imagination.”

Early yesterday, President Trump congratulated himself in this tweet:

Lambertson spent five years as a part-time KEDO representative and was also an ambassador to Thailand during his career. He was in North Korea as a part of the project negotiated during the Clinton administration with Kim Jong-Il, the father of Kim Jong-Un. In exchange for a promise of halting North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, a consortium of nations agreed to build a nuclear power plant in North Korea. Eventually, the project ended without a completed plant and without the promises being kept by North Korea.

Lambertson told me that Trump returned from his summit with Kim Jong-Un “with very little of substance to show us.” Moreover, Trump gave up a couple of “substantive points, namely the halt to ‘provocative war games,’ and simply the elevation to world statesman of the world’s worst dictator.”

Making a comparison to the Iran treaty, Lambertson said that the meeting was “the beginning of a ‘process,’ we are told–one that will bear close watching.”  He added that “every milestone along the way needs to be looked at carefully and skeptically.”

Lambertson said “we should be thankful” that “tensions with North Korea are lower than they were” but added, “until there is actual, verifiable progress toward denuclearization, we should keep our enthusiasm under control, despite Trump’s bloviating.”

Lambertson concluded:

The North Korean nuclear threat has not disappeared, except perhaps in the President’s imagination.

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations concurs with Lambertson:

Since Trump has returned from Singapore, he has praised Kim Jong-Un as a ruler who loves his people. This of course will come as a surprise to the people of North Korea.

15 thoughts on “Trump Says Nuclear Threat is Over; North Korea Experts Skeptical”

  1. Both Kim and Trump got what they wanted: Kim got international recognition of his rule of North Korea, and Trump got a big publicity coup that looks good if you don’t look very closely. Both of them are liars; neither of them signed onto anything concrete or verifiable. They’ll be back to calling each other names by Christmas. The nuclear threat from either North Korea to the US or the US to North Korea is pretty much unchanged.

  2. I, for one, would have liked to see Fox New’s reaction (not to mention any of the other right wing press outlets) to Obama meeting with North Korea’s dictator without pre-conditions, lavishing praise upon him, co-opting North Korea’s propagandist language, obtaining an “agreement” that does nothing concrete, declaring the threat over, and then congratulation himself for saving the world. This, after treating our long standing G7 allies like garbage.

    If I had to guess, in that alternate universe, the amount of outrage would be a sight to behold. And the conspiracy theories would come fast and wild.

    ETA: And now we have pictures of Trump saluting a NK general. I can’t wait to hear about how it’s so great and respectful of Trump to salute an adversarial military leader, but Obama was weak bowing to a Saudi king, who, say what you want, is at least officially our ally.

    1. To be excruciatingly fair to Trump, it looks like the salute was an instinctive reaction to being saluted rather than any premeditated — presumably because that’s what he’s gotten used to doing when receiving salutes from US generals — and frankly, after all the praise he’s already heaped upon that mass-murdering dictator, it didn’t (couldn’t) make the situation any worse.

      1. It’s not so much the act itself. It’s possible that Trump made a “mistake” by reflexively saluting in return like he might otherwise do in any other situation. Again, it’s the fact that had Obama done this Fox News would run the footage 24/7 with headlines like “Why does Obama love the NK military?”, “Obama embarrasses country, some say”, “Did Obama shows more respect for NK than G7?”. Hannity would be in tears lamenting Obama embarrassing us and imagining our country being laughed at. He would probably be suggesting that a real man would have punched Un in the face.

  3. There is no earthly reason to believe anything either of them say. They both have proven track records as liars.
    And this morning, I was greeted with a picture of the president of the United States SALUTING a NK general.
    I need a day away from political news.

  4. I’d like to see the press focus their energy on the South Koreans who impeached their miliraristic president in favor of progressive leader Moon Jae-In. And the South Korean movement against U.S.-backed dictatorships deserves greater coverage.

  5. I’d like to see the press focus their energy on the South Koreans who impeached their miliraristic president in favor of progressive leader Moon Jae-In. And the South Korean movement against U.S.-backed dictatorships deserves greater coverage.

  6. It does leave the impression that Trump gave away the house and got nothing but vague promises in return.

    It seems that Trump and Kim see eye to eye. They are both bullies and con men. We should not trust either of them.

    Reagan: Trust but verify;
    Trump: Just trust — no need to verify.

  7. “Trump Says Nuclear Threat is Over”

    Even Trump can’t be that stupid. The real question is he that delusional enough to believe it or is this more of his gas-lighting of his devoted fans.

    1. Yes, he believes it, and no doubt that belief is being reinforced by those around him given that he’s ditched almost everyone who was willing to tell him the truth.

  8. Too early to say anything conclusive. The old approach certainly hasn’t worked. Trump’s good cop/bad cop routine is a different tack that might backfire or might accomplish something. We shall see.

    1. You imply some level of planning and forethought from Trump, which is doubtful. More likely, Kim saw an opening (meeting one-on-one with the US President on equal terms is a massive coup for his regime), threw out the carrot, and Trump took the bait.

      If a meaningful change for the better happens, I’ll gladly give credit where credit is due, but so far, aside from Trump giving Kim everything he’s asked for, North Korea has yet to promise anything they haven’t promised before.

  9. I don’t think anyone should feel safe until this delusional man is out of power, and the same goes for Kim Jong-Un too.

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