President Donald Trump said Wednesday morning that there is “no longer a nuclear threat” from North Korea, prompting outrage from experts who point to a lack of evidence.
A day after assembly with Kim Jong Un at a historic summit in Singapore, the president tweeted that “everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office.”
He added that his predecesor, Barack Obama, had viewed North Korea as America’s “most perilous problem,” but that this is no longer the case.
Trump later accused the media of “downplaying” his deal with North Korea and called fake news “our country’s biggest enemy.” He said that the media would possess “begged” for this deal 500 days ago.
Trump and Kim signed a document agreeing to set up modern relations for “peace and prosperity” between the US and North Korea on Tuesday. As portion of the agreement, North Korea committed to “work toward total denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula — a pledge Kim had already made at an earlier summit with South Korea.
Trump told reporters in a brief exchange after the signing that the process of denuclearization would start “very, very quickly.”
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted he believes North Korea is “negotiating in advantageous faith.”
His claim suggests an conclude to more than 70 years of hostilities between the two countries over nuclear weapons. North Korea has carried out six nuclear tests since its first in 2006, five years before Kim succeeded his father as leader, culminating in what is understood to be its largest ever in September. As recently as January, Trump and Kim were threatening each other with nuclear war.
Experts and commentators reacted furiously to Trump’s latest tweets.
Abraham Denmark, director of the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars research institute, pointed out that North Korea still has its nuclear weapons and potentially the power to strike the US and its allies.
Susan Rice, who served as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser and US ambassador to the UN, called the tweet “preposterous” on radio.
And Richard Haas, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, called the claim “patently incorrect.”
Some reporters pointed out that Tuesday’s summit did not result in a finalized deal, and that there is long way to travel before that became a reality.
Others suggested that Trump’s drive to “pocket” a victory after the summit means that he will be reluctant to sustain tabs on the realities behind Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
Other world leaders exercised far more caution as they responded to the summit.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he supported the agreement as a “first step” to the “comprehensive resolution” of tensions.
“I want to hear the details by phone (from Trump),” he added. “I will continue aiming to resolve concerns such as the abduction, nuclear and missile issues.”
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said “we can only welcome” the news as “an principal step forward.”
“Of course the satan is in the detail, and we possess yet to delve into specifics. But the impulse, as far as we understand, has been given,” he said, according to TASS news agency.
Antonio Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, stressed that implementing the agreement will require “patience and support” from the global community.
South Korea had specific reason for concern after the agreement, since Trump unexpectedly said that he intended to conclude joint military exercises with South Korea after the summit.
“At this point, we need to find out the precise meaning or intentions of President Trump’s remarks,” a spokesperson for President Moon Jae-in said.