US President Donald Trump’s media conference after his much-anticipated summit with North Korean dictator Kim jong-un in Singapore was an exercise in hyperboles. He hailed it as a “very important event in world history” and declared that Kim had given his “unwavering” commitment to denuclearisation.
But the world has learnt to take Trump’s claims with a pinch of salt. He is known to praise profusely and criticise scathingly, depending on what suits him when.
The proof of the pudding would lie in its eating and that Kim left soon after the meeting with Trump for his country leaves only the documents they signed to testify to Trump’s claim of undiluted success.
Indeed, he claimed denuclearisation of North Korea’s “very substantial” nuclear arsenal could be achieved very quickly but gave few details or a specific timeframe.
When asked whether Kim would allow international inspections of his nuclear facilities, Trump said ‘yes’ but there was apparently no reference to this aspect in the joint statement. He qualified his statement by saying that “denuclearisation takes a long time scientifically.”
The US president said he looked forward to lifting sanctions once “nukes are no longer a factor”. But in the absence of a time commitment, the claim of denuclearisation itself could well be hollow.
He agreed to stop US-South Korea war games adding that they were provocative, inappropriate and very expensive. There again there was no time frame committed.
Both South Korea and the US forces there were surprised by Trump’s abrupt agreement to stop joint military exercises.
The maverick president defended Kim by saying that North Korea had already demonstrated its commitment to denuclearisation by destroying a missile engine site. He also repeatedly praised North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics in South Korea. But with no parallel hyperboles from Kim, one is left wondering what to believe and what to surmise.
In an effusive mood, Trump praised Kim for ushering in a “glorious new era of prosperity for his people”. In a complete turnaround of his earlier denunciation of Kim, he said he trusted Kim and got on with him. The world’s most powerful head of State said he believed that Kim was a “very talented” negotiator.
It was all one big show of patting himself on the back in true Trump style.
The US President said he would invite Kim to the White House at an appropriate time. The president also agreed to travel to Pyongyang at a suitable time.
Trump was asked by a journalist whether North Korea’s human rights record was discussed at length during the talks to which he answered in the affirmative. He said the 100,000 people in North Korean gulags would be among the big winners from the summit.
But that is difficult to believe with the world having known how ruthless Kim has been as his country’s dictator, executing people at will without adequate grounds.
The Guardian summed it up succinctly when it said: “Any president of the last 30 odd years could have met the dictator of North Korea, they didn’t because they did not want to legitimise them without concrete commitments to something beneficial. Trump has legitimised Kim, getting nothing in return, apart from a promise to work toward denuclearisation.”
One of Trump’s failings as President has been his failure in managing the media. Consequently, such an assessment should not surprise anyone.
Iran, which saw its nuclear deal with the US being rescinded, said it has warned Kim that Trump could nullify the deal with North Korea. "We are facing a man who revokes his signature while abroad," a government spokesman was quoted as saying.
It is now time to see how the future unfolds—whether North Korea actually denuclearises and how much of the mutual promises are honoured.