President Donald Trump said Wednesday there is “no rush” in its negotiations with North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.
“Russia has agreed to help with North Korea, where relationships with us are very good and the process is moving along. There is no rush, the sanctions remain! Big benefits and exciting future for North Korea at end of process!” Trump tweeted.
The tweet came in a series of early morning messages from the President as he defended his inflammatory news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, earlier in the week.
On Tuesday, while clarifying remarks he made at the news conference, Trump also said there was “no time limit” on North Korea and that sanctions would remain in place.
“A major topic of discussion was North Korea and the need for it to remove its nuclear weapons. Russia has assured us of its support. President Putin said he agrees with me 100%, and they’ll do whatever they have to do to try and make it happen,” Trump said.
“Discussions are ongoing and they’re going very, very well. We have no rush for speed … We have no time limit. We have no speed limit. We have — we’re just going through the process. But the relationships are very good. President Putin is going to be involved in the sense that he is with us.”
Although the Trump administration formerly called for an immediate denuclearization of North Korea, Trump and administration officials in recent months have backed off that demand.
It has been almost six weeks since Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held an unprecedented summit in Singapore, the first-ever meeting between a sitting US president and North Korean leader.
The discussions resulted in a signed joint statement that committed both sides to establishing new relations and a path to peace on the Korean Peninsula. But critics said it only reiterated previous commitments and failed to lay out a timeline for denuclearization.
While Trump asserted that North Korea was “no longer a nuclear threat” upon his return from Singapore, North Korea has not publicly confirmed that it has dismantled any of its nuclear weapons or ballistic missile infrastructure since the June 12 meeting.
Some reports have even suggested that Pyongyang is pushing ahead with construction at sites affiliated with its nuclear and missile programs, based on satellite images. But some of those report’s authors have cautioned against reading too much into the various analysis.
As tensions between North Korea and the US rose in 2017, senior diplomats and administration officials in Washington said diplomacy with North Korea was an option. However, they said that dialogue was contingent on the condition that North Korea give up its nuclear weapons.
But since the summit, Trump and his top aides have been preaching patience when it comes to working with Kim.
Experts in nuclear proliferation and former diplomats with experience negotiating with the North Koreans have long held that any negotiation over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program would take years.
An analysis co-authored by a prominent nuclear expert and a respected Korea analyst at Stanford found that it could take as long as a decade to implement an agreement in which Pyongyang gives up its nuclear weapons.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to concur with that assessment earlier this month. He said negotiations with North Korea are a “decades-long challenge” that involves North Korea making a fundamental shift in its strategic decision making.
“(North Korea) for decades told their own people that without nuclear weapons their country was at risk of being attacked by the West, by America, by some other country,” Pompeo explained.
The job for the US now, he said, is “to get the entire country to understand that they have that strategically wrong. Chairman Kim told President Trump he understood that. I was there. I saw it.”
But Pompeo has cautioned that there are dangers in making what he believes are the same mistakes of past administrations — namely, providing any relief from sanctions until North Korea completely gives up its nuclear weapons.
The two sides could meet again July 27, when the US is expecting North Korea to return possible remains of US service members who died in the Korean War.