Talks between North Korea Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un, and US President, Donald Trump, have collapsed after a disagreement between the two leaders regarding nuclear disarmament.
The talks were happening in Hanoi, Vietnam, and the two leaders were expected to announce progress on denuclearisation. Two contradicting stories have emerged from either side regarding who is at fault for the failure of the summit. President Trump claimed that Kim Jong Un made the significant offer of closing the Yongbyong complex, the research and production facility central to North Korea’s nuclear programme, in exchange for the removal of all sanctions currently in place on North Korea.
However, foreign minister Ri Yong Ho claims Kim Jong Un has demanded the removal of only some of the sanctions in exchange for the shutting of its main nuclear complex. President Trump stated in a press conference, ‘It was all about the sanctions. They wanted sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that.’ Ri Yong Ho has stated that Kim Jong Un was ready to offer a permanent halt to the country’s nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests and that Washington has wasted an opportunity that ‘may not come again.’ He also claimed that North Korea’s stance would not change should the US resume another round of talks.
The economic sanctions on North Korea are currently in place due to increasing international pressure to denuclearise the nation. The sanctions come from a number of powers that include the United States and the United Nations. In regards to North Korea’s nuclear programme, they believe it is crucial to guarantee their survival. This is currently the second summit between the US and North Korea, with the first occurring in Singapore during June 2018, leading to improved relations between the two nations and allowing room for further talks.
Trump has stated the latest talks were ‘very productive, but sometimes you have to walk and this was just one of those times’, claiming it was a ‘friendly walk’. It is unclear as to when the next round of negotiations will happen, but the White House has claimed both sides look forward to future talks.
Meanwhile, upon his return to the US, the President launched a stunning attack on his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, claiming that his congressional testimony against Trump may ‘may have contributed’ to the collapse of the summit. However, the President gave no explanation for how Cohen’s testimony could have any impact on negotiations regarding North Korea’s nuclear programme.
Despite the result of the event being one of no deal, the two leaders reportedly appeared to get along in Hanoi, much like in Singapore. It appears that this summit could still leave opportunity for a third, with the apparent building on the newly found relationship between the two nations evident still. However, the international reaction is still one of concern, with the Wall Street Journal claiming that South Korea is ‘pressing the two sides to return to negotiations to prevent the diplomatic detente from unravelling’, and if the two sides fail to do so then the ‘rapprochement that began last year risks losing steam, and North Korea may opt to exit the talks.’
Before this summit, there was a feeling that there may be a possible political declaration of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. However, after this result, it appears that this objective is further away from being achieved than hoped. It is impossible to predict what might lay ahead, but the world will continue to watch as it all unravels.