Trump-Kim Summit Cut Short Over Refusal to Budge On Sanctions

Chris Menahan
Feb. 28, 2019

The Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi, Vietnam ended early last night over a dispute on lifting sanctions.

While Trump claimed Kim "basically" wanted "sanctions lifted in their entirety" the North Koreans reportedly said they were "seeking partial relief of sanctions from the United States, not complete relief, in exchange for the dismantlement of its main nuclear facility and other actions."

Here's how Trump said it went down during his press conference in the early morning hours on Thursday as transcribed by the State Department:
THE PRESIDENT: All right, Major, please.

QUESTION: Has this process been more difficult than you thought? And was the North Korean demand for lifting of some sanctions the real sticking point here —


QUESTION: — in that you did not want to do that and they did? And will there be —

THE PRESIDENT: It was about the sanctions.

QUESTION: Will there be a third summit, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that. They were willing to denuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted, but we couldn’t give up all of the sanctions for that.

So we continue to work, and we’ll see. But we had to walk away from that particular suggestion. We had to walk away from that.

QUESTION: Will all the sanctions that are currently in existence remain, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: They’re in place. You know, I was watching as a lot of you folks over the weeks have said, “Oh, we’ve given up.” We haven’t given up anything. And frankly, I think we’ll end up being very good friends with Chairman Kim and with North Korea, and I think they have tremendous potential.

I’ve been telling everybody: They have tremendous potential. Unbelievable potential. But we’re going to see.

But it was about sanctions. I mean, they wanted sanctions lifted but they weren’t willing to do an area that we wanted. They were willing to give us areas but not the ones we wanted.


QUESTION: As we know, I mean, there’s an incredibly complex set of issues that are at play here in terms of lifting the sanctions and what denuclearization is.


QUESTION: Did you get any distance toward sort of what Kim’s vision of denuclearization is?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we did. We did.

QUESTION: Because there is a lot — a line of thinking that he wants to keep some nukes.


QUESTION: I mean, would you allow him to do that? And if you can’t —

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don’t — John, I don’t want to comment —

QUESTION: If you can’t get —

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, I don’t want to comment on that exactly, but he has a certain vision and it’s not exactly our vision, but it’s a lot closer than it was a year ago. And I think, you know, eventually we’ll get there.

But for this particular visit, we decided that we had to walk, and we’ll see what happens. Okay?


QUESTION: So can you just give us a little more detail? Did you get into the question of actually dismantling the Yongbyon complex?

THE PRESIDENT: I did. Yes. Absolutely.

QUESTION: And does he seem willing, ultimately —


QUESTION: — to take all of that out?

THE PRESIDENT: Sure. Totally.

QUESTION: He does? He just wants all the sanctions off first?

THE PRESIDENT: He would do that, but he wants the sanctions for that. And as you know, there’s plenty left after that. And I just I felt it wasn’t good. Mike and I spent a long time negotiating and talking about it to ourselves. And just — I felt that that particular, as you know, that facility, while very big, it wasn’t enough to do what we were doing.

QUESTION: So he was willing to Yongbyon, but you wanted more than that? I assume —

THE PRESIDENT: We had to have more than that, yeah. We had to have more than that because there are other things that you haven’t talked about, that you haven’t written about, that we found. And we have to have — that was done a long time ago, but the people didn’t know about.

QUESTION: Including the uranium —

THE PRESIDENT: And we brought — yeah.

QUESTION: Including the second uranium enrichment plant?

THE PRESIDENT: Exactly. And we brought many, many points up that I think they were surprised that we knew. But we had to do more than just the one level. Because if we did the one level, and we gave up all of that leverage that’s been taking a long time to build. And I want to tell you, by the way —

QUESTION: So he was not willing to take out that second —

THE PRESIDENT: David, I want to take off the sanctions so badly, because I want that country to grow. That country has got such potential, but they have to give up, or we could’ve done that deal.

Mike, you want to speak to that?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Only, David, there are also timing and sequencing issues that were associated with that as well, which we didn’t quite get across the finish line as well. But remember, too, even that facility, even the Yongbyon facility and all of its scope — which is important, for sure — still leaves missiles, still leaves warheads and weapons systems. So there’s a lot of other elements that we just couldn’t get to.
The North Koreans gave a press conference of their own to say they did not ask for all sanctions to be pulled but only asked for some to be removed:
HANOI, March 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is seeking partial relief of sanctions from the United States, not complete relief, in exchange for the dismantlement of its main nuclear facility and other actions, Pyongyang's top diplomat said Friday.

Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho made the remark at an impromptu press conference at his hotel in Hanoi, hours after a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump failed to produce an agreement.

Ri said the North is specifically seeking the lifting of sanctions under five United Nations Security Council resolutions adopted in 2016 and 2017.

He said those measures were particularly damaging to the North Korean people's livelihoods.

At the summit, according to Ri, the North Koreans also offered to permanently halt their testing of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

But the U.S., he said, insisted that the North go "one more" step beyond the dismantlement of its main nuclear facility in Yongbyon.

Pyongyang's position won't change even if the U.S. seeks further talks, he added.
As MoonOfAlabama reported on Thursday:
The U.S. demanded the destruction of Yongbyon and of other complexes before any change in the sanction regime. North Korea insisted on following the sequencing that was agreed upon during the first summit. The joint statement by the two leaders signed in June 2018 defined four clearly sequenced steps:

President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:

- The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.

- The United States and DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

- Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

- The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Eight month later new relations in form of the opening of embassies or a lifting of sanctions were not established. No peace treaty was signed. North Korea destroyed nuclear testing tunnels and a missile test stand. Some POW/MIA remains have been repatriated. But the U.S. side has taken no steps that could be seen as fulfilling its commitments.

Since the first summit Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. media have done their best to ignore the sequencing. North Korea on the other side has insisted on it again and again. It made absolutely clear that it would not budge on the issue.
You kinda of have to assume it was Kim who abruptly walked out on the talks.

Trump did say, "Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety..."

There's basically zero chance Kim is going to give up his nukes considering what the US has done in the past.

Senator Marco Rubio just threatened Maduro with the same fate a few days ago:

Giving the North Koreans relief from sanctions is not unreasonable but I suspect Mike Pompeo or John Bolton may have managed to convince Trump it's a bad idea.

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