According to sources who spoke to the Washington Post, President Trump is growing increasingly irritated with North Korea, which, by canceling meetings with administration officials, refusing to turn over the remains of U.S. soldiers, and expanding their nuclear enrichment facilities, appears to be playing games instead of negotiating in good faith. Trump was optimistic about the denuclearization possibilities after his summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore last month, but sources say that he is not pleased with the (lack of) progress that has been made in the weeks since.
Diplomats say the North Koreans have canceled follow-up meetings, demanded more money and failed to maintain basic communications, even as the once-isolated regime’s engagements with China and South Korea flourish.
Meanwhile, a missile-engine testing facility that Trump said would be destroyed remains intact, and U.S. intelligence officials say Pyongyang is working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program.
The lack of immediate progress, though predicted by many analysts, has frustrated the president, who has fumed at his aides in private even as he publicly hails the success of the negotiations.
The Post spoke to Duyeon Kim, a scholar on North Korea, who said: “I worry that Trump might lose patience with the length and complexities of negotiations that are common when dealing with North Korea, and walk away and revert back to serious considerations of the military option.”
That’s the way they end the article, naturally, because the Washington Post doesn’t go to press with any story unless they can find a way to spin it to their narrative: Trump is a reckless buffoon who doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. We don’t doubt that they spoke to a lot of North Korea experts before finally finding a quote they could use for that last-paragraph slam dunk.
In truth, the fear is not that Trump lacks the patience to see this process through to the end. If there’s one true thing about this process, it’s that the president has every reason to want to see it succeed. Not only would it be a major achievement for world peace, but it would put a feather in the cap of his legacy that not even his fiercest critics could ever take away.
On the other hand, you can’t really characterize North Korea’s shenanigans as a hallmark of the “length and complexities of negotiations.” No one expects this process to be simple or short, but there’s a huge difference between serious negotiations and a country playing games with the U.S. for the sake of buying time. If Trump begins to suspect that Kim Jong Un is exploiting his olive branch…well, all we can say is that there are plenty of figures in this administration who would LOVE to take a more aggressive approach. If Trump finds himself holding the bag after that celebrated summit, he may very well start listening to those people.
At that point, “fire and fury” won’t begin to describe what will happen to Kim’s regime.