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:
Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
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.”
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:
.@realDonaldTrump claim there is no longer a NK nuclear threat patently false. The summit changed nothing. Worse yet, overselling the summit makes it harder to keep sanctions in place, further reducing pressure on NK to reduce (much less give up) its nuclear weapons and missiles
— Richard N. Haass (@RichardHaass) June 13, 2018
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.