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Menendez on Trump-Kim Summit: When it comes to North Korea, don’t trust – verify

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a joint statement in Singapore without setting timelines or providing any details on a pathway forward on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

“I share the desire to achieve a true, sustainable path towards peaceful diplomacy and would welcome a serious commitment to denuclearization from Kim Jong Un. 

“History has repeatedly shown that when it comes to North Korea, we can’t trust – we must verify. Unfortunately, this anemic agreement provides no details and no verification. With no commitments from North Korea, this agreement is less of an accomplishment than anything any previous administration ever negotiated with Pyongyang. As I’ve said before, getting a deal is the easy part. Executing a strategy with verifiable steps is the hard part. 

“Thus far, North Korea has already extracted concessions.  The meeting with the President gave Kim his long-sought legitimacy and acceptance on the global stage. In exchange for selfies in Singapore, we have undermined our maximum pressure policy and sanctions. No sooner was the ink dry on the agreement then China stated that ‘adjustments’ were needed to the sanctions.

“And, in exchange for promises to make promises the President also pledged to end our alliance’s defensive military exercise with South Korea, critical to the stability of the Korean Peninsula and for our regional security and strategy. 

“While the President publicly chastises and insults leaders of countries whose citizens have fought with and died alongside Americans, he smiles and shakes hands with a brutal dictator. We have given a free pass to an international pariah who abuses his own people, kills his own relatives, and routinely threatens our national security. 

“The Singapore summit leaves me concerned that this all appears to be unfolding according to North Korean conditions, on a North Korean timeline, and for North Korea’s ends.  It is now incumbent on Administration to tell us what their strategy is to get us on a genuine pathway for denuclearization, peace and stability. The devil will always be in the details and we have none.  The President may be finding out that the art of diplomacy is harder than the art of the deal. He needs to demonstrate that he, in fact, has a strategy for North Korea.”